Separation of Church and State

Jackson: IRS Regulations Designed To Silence Black Churches

Earlier this month, hundreds of pastors across the nation participated in the Alliance Defense Fund's annual "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," during which they openly endorsed or opposed political candidates from their pulpits in a direct challenge to the IRS.

Among those participating pastors was Bishop Harry Jackson who, along with Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was featured in a short video from Odyssey Networks about the effort.

In the video, Jackson provided a rather unique explanation for his involvement in opposing IRS regulations that prohibit churches from engaging in politics, asserting that such regulations were put in place in order to prevent black churches from speaking out in support of the civil rights movement:

Of course, the reality is that the prohibitions grew out of an amendment inserted into the tax code by Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954 (years before he became president) in response to attacks on him by tax-exempt groups that accused him of being soft of Communism during his re-election campaign.

If Jackson is going to be involved in leading this challenge to the IRS, it might be helpful for him to actually know what he is talking about.

New Religious Right Video: Secularism Means Doom For America

One of the sessions at the recent Values Voter Summit featured a showing of a new half-hour video produced by the American Family Association called “Divorcing God: Secularism and the Republic.” (Back in the summer it was being promoted as "Divorcing God: Secularism, Sexual Anarchy, and the Future of the Republic.") The video features an array of Religious Right leaders and academics, whose argument can be summarized this way:  America, whose greatness is decaying because the country has turned its back on the God who inspired the founding fathers, is doomed if it continues to allow secularists to push religion into the closet.  It's time for Christians to fight back.

And just to be clear, the God in “one nation under God” isn’t any old generic God, but the same Christian God who made western civilization possible.  It’s familiar to anyone who has followed the Religious Right’s “Christian nation” rhetoric, filled with founders’ quotes about religion and  attacks on the Supreme Court’s rulings on church-state separation.

Among the stars of the video is Princeton University’s Robert George, the Religious Right’s favorite intellectual. George, a leader of the National Organization for Marriage, is one of the authors of the Manhattan Declaration, whose signers fancy themselves potential martyrs for opposing abortion and LGBT equality in America. Others include Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute; Michael Farris, homeschooling advocate and chancellor of Patrick Henry College; and Matthew Spalding, of the Heritage Foundation. The founders clearly believed that God punishes nations, says Dacus, and when countries allow their societies to become amoral, there’s a price to be paid, not just by those individuals but society as a whole.  The video suggests that the current fight between secularists and those who want to preserve the country’s divine foundation is the last stand for the future of freedom on planet earth.

Another DVD being handed out at the Values Voter Summit hit similar themes about the importance of the nation’s foundation on biblical principles.  It features a 2010 “State of the Nation” speech delivered by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis at the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  Ham argues that the nation is threatened by the teaching of evolution and by the Supreme Court. “There really is no such thing as separation of church and state,” says Ham, who warns that “Christianity in this nation is becoming outlawed more and more in various quarters.”  Ham blames the decline more on church leaders than on secularists.  The Bible is the “absolute authority,” he says, but too many Christians have undermined the authority of scripture by compromising on the truth of the 6,000 year-old earth and great flood described in Genesis.  And that means quoting the Bible in policy debates on abortion and gay marriage has lost its effectiveness.

Meanwhile, French scholar Denis Lacorne has just published Religion in America: A Political History (Columbia University Press, 2011), in which he examines two competing narratives about American identity.  One derives from the secular values of the Enlightenment and reflects a desire to preserve liberty by freeing it from the power of an established church.  The second ties American identity to the Puritans and Protestantism.  These two narratives are reflected in competing notions of church-state separation evident today in our politics and on our Supreme Court.  At a presentation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. this week, Lacorne suggested that what he calls the neopuritan narrative was developed in the first half of the 19th century by historians who wanted to resurrect the influence of the Puritans, who he says were generally ignored by the founding fathers in their debates over religious liberty and whether or not to make the Constitution an explicitly Christian document.  (They chose not to.)

 

Fischer: Rights Endangered If President Believes In Evolution

The theory of evolution was a central topic in Bryan Fischer's speech to the Values Voter Summit, where he argued that the presidential candidates should reject evolution. "I submit to you that not a single one of our unalienable rights will be safe," Fischer said, "in the hands of a president who believes that we evolved from slime and that we are the descendents of apes and baboons." Fischer called the separation of church and state "mythical" and argued that a result of secular government and the theory of evolution result in mass murder like in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China.

Watch:

Fischer: All Will Be Lost If Gay Marriage Passes

On Focal Point today Bryan Fischer says that everything, even the country's economic future and national security, relies on whether Americans can defeat marriage equality. Fischer went on to say that George Washington would view LGBT rights activists and groups that support the separation of church and state are "anti-American":

Fischer: Our survival as a civilization, as a culture, depends on protecting the institution of marriage, everything is at risk here: our economic prosperity, our survival, our national security, all of it hinges on our willingness as a culture to protect monogamy and to protect the institution of marriage. You know, George Washington says 'In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who would labor to subvert these two great pillars,' you push these pillars over, you undermine the foundation of these pillars, you cause them to weaken, you cause them to crumble, you are not a patriot. So George Washington would have no hesitation of looking at groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State, ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation, all of these gay rights groups, George Washington would have absolutely no hesitation saying these groups are unpatriotic, they are un-American, in fact they are anti-American because they are laboring to subvert the pillars which this civilization rests.

Barber: Gay Community Will Ruin America With Their "Flamboyant Narcissism, Moral Relativism And Plenty Of Gyrating Nude Bodies"

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber took to the Washington Times this morning to lay out yet another anti-gay screed. According to Barber, the future of the country will be determined over a conflict between the conservative movement’s patriotism and the left’s supposedly unpatriotic support for equal rights and the separation of church and state. Barber, who has argued that liberalism is the “hatred for God” and that gay children commit suicide because they know homosexuality is “unnatural,” said that gay rights will bring about the country’s moral collapse as “the ‘gay pride’ parade leaves nothing behind but a huge mess for the rest of us to clean up”:

Indeed, the “gay pride” parade, perhaps more than any other, best encapsulates the values embraced by today’s secular-progressive left.

Think about it. It’s got it all:

c Obscenely expensive, taxpayer-funded actions-without-consequences gaiety.

c Celebration of a caution-to-the-wind, enjoy-now-pay-later lifestyle.

c Men who act like women and women who look like men.

c Flamboyant narcissism, moral relativism and plenty of gyrating nude bodies.

c Colorful public sex displays to forever confuse, desensitize and sexualize the kiddos. (Mustn’t forget: “Childhood events permanently impact beliefs and behavior.”)

c Lots of anti-Americanism.

c And a total absence of God.

Oh, and much like the homosexual lobby’s No. 1 cheerleader, President Barack “downgrade” Obama, the “gay pride” parade leaves nothing behind but a huge mess for the rest of us to clean up.

So which America do you live in? The one with public displays of patriotism or the one with public displays of perversion? The one with lots of flag-waving or the one with lots of, well, whatever waving?

As the Good Book says: “Pride cometh before the fall.”

We’re falling.

Can we get back up?

I don’t know, but for starters, we sure could use a lot less pride and a little more patriotism. More important, though, let’s take a lesson from those who came before us.

If we don’t turn back to God, our best days are done.

Perkins: Advocates of Church-State Separation Are "Cultural Terrorists"

While the Family Research Council tries to paint itself as one of the Religious Right’s more mainstream and respectable lobbying organizations, its extreme rhetoric continues to gain exposure. Just yesterday, for instance, FRC president Tony Perkins called the anti-suicide It Gets Better Project “immoral” and “disgusting” in a fundraising letter.

Now, Perkins is calling advocates of church-state separation “cultural terrorists.” Yesterday during Today’s Issues with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon on the AFA’s American Family Radio, Perkins portrayed liberals as unpatriotic and attacked legal organizations that support secular government as un-American, comparing them to terrorists.

Earlier this month, Perkins joined FRC Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell in expressing outrage about a questionable report that Vice President Joe Biden likened Tea Party activists to terrorists. As Kyle pointed out at the time, the FRC had itself produced a documentary which described the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as “economic terrorism” for adding job protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now, Perkins is using the ‘terrorist’ language to depict people who believe in the separation of church and state:

Perkins: It’s still ok to pray before a football game, it’s still ok to stand for the American flag, it’s still ok to be an American, yes, it’s tea party country, it’s people that love this country, it’s people that send their sons and daughters to fight for these liberals who enjoy all the liberties and the freedoms but won’t lift a finger to protect it and they want to come down here and intimidate these folks. And the school board’s strapped for money, don’t want to take on these expensive cases to defend themselves with these out of town, carpet bagging lawyers.

Wildmon: You preach it brother.



Perkins: That’s what these groups are banking on, because in these financially difficult times, administrators wanting to be prudent, some of them not having enough backbone, will say, ‘ah we shouldn’t challenge this let’s just give in and appease them.’

I like President Reagan’s view, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. These are cultural terrorists.

They want to remake America in their own godless image, and we should not tolerate that. You know Tim, enough is enough. It’s time that Christians be bold and stand up for the rights that we have, rights that were won with the blood of patriots and sustained by patriots and by those that love this country, and it’s time that we in this generation stand up and defend those rights as well. We have those rights in this country but if we don’t stand up and defend them, using the laws, using our voice, and a lot of time that’s all it takes Tim, just stand up and say, I don’t care what you think, I don’t care about your atheist agenda. Take a hike, we’re gonna pray, we’re gonna acknowledge God, and if you don’t like it, so what?

Jackson: There Is No Separation Of Church And State

Earlier this month Harry Jackson appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network to talk about his commitment to Seven Mountains dominionism, the ideology that calls on fundamentalist Christians to take control key sectors of society: business, media, education, arts and entertainment, family, religion and the church, and government. Jackson has emerged as a regular Religious Right spokesman and is a vociferous opponent of abortion rights and LGBT equality. He was even co-chair of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response prayer rally.

Yesterday, Jackson was the guest on TBN’s Praise The Lord yesterday and discussed how he thinks God is using him to help fundamentalists seize the ‘government mountain’ because the separation of church doesn’t exist and “Jesus came not to take sides, but to take over”:

Jackson: It’s one thing to be in a church preaching all these messages, seeing people shout and whatever it is. But it’s another thing to command the attention of the nation, and then begin to tell these folks, ‘we vote too.’ We don’t just dance and sing, we vote. And some of what you’re doing has to be accountable to us, the people of God. There really is no separation of church and state. In God’s mind, the word of the Lord should impact everything that happens out there in the state. So time and time again we got folks who want us to say our place is just behind these four walls. But Jesus came not to take sides, but to take over.

Robertson: Perry "Founded His Administration On The Bible"

Today on The 700 Club, Pat Robertson praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry for leading The Response prayer rally in Houston on Saturday. Perry did an interview with The 700 Club just days before the event to publicize it, disclosing that he would be praying against the “over-taxed, over-regulated, and over-litigated” economy. Robertson lauded Perry’s much disputed handling of Texas’s economy, arguing, “He has founded his administration on the Bible, and if I might add it works.” Robertson went on to say that Perry is trying to bring America “back to the roots of our nation” against forces that are trying to “separate this country from God.”

Watch:

Robertson: Is it any wonder that man was elected for three terms to lead one of the largest states in our nation, and if I might add a very prosperous states, a state that has low unemployment, paying the bills. He has founded his administration on the Bible, and if I might add it works. Man, it took courage for him to do this. All this ‘blurred the lines of separation of church and state,’ no it doesn’t. We had never, never had a time in our country where we separated this country from God, but it looks like we’re trying to do it as hard as we can. And I appreciate Gov. Perry, bringing that emphasis to come back to the roots of our nation.

Perkins Tries And Fails To Downplay The Extreme Views Of 'The Response' Organizers

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews on Friday to discuss The Response. During the show, Matthews played a number of videos, first posted on Right Wing Watch, of Response organizers Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer, John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church, and John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lynn said Perry’s links to such extreme figures don’t represent “guilt by association” but “guilt by construction.” Perkins, on the other hand, tried to distance the import of Bryan Fischer, saying, “Look, he has a talk show on the American Family Association.”

While Perkins may be trying to downplay Fischer’s role at the AFA, he knows full well that Fischer isn’t just some radio talk show host but is in fact the public face of the American Family Association. In fact, his official bio lists him as the “spokesman for AFA.” He represented the AFA at Perkins’ Values Voters Summit and had a prime speaking slot, although as Kyle notes Fischer is not a listed speaker this year. Fischer is the group’s Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy, hosts AFA’s flagship radio program Focal Point and is the go-to voice of the AFA for inquiring journalists. Perkins himself co-hosted Today’s Issues with Fischer on AFA radio.

Perkins acknowledged that he knew the background of Fischer and other organizers, commenting, “Look, I don’t, as I said before, not everybody that’s on that platform agrees with what others have said or what they hold to believe.”

But no one has suggested that Rick Perry agrees with Bryan Fischer’s argument that gays and lesbians should be banned from holding public office, Mike Bickle’s claim that Oprah is the harbinger of the Antichrist or John Benefiel’s belief that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol. The problem is that a sitting governor and likely presidential candidate is effectively endorsing and promoting individuals and organizations with such far-right and extreme views in an exclusively fundamentalist Christian prayer rally.

While Perkins attempted to give Perry cover about the extreme views of the prayer rally organizers, The Response represented the extent Republican leaders and Religious Right groups will go to jockey for the support of even the most fringe figures and elevate their voices.

Interfaith Clergy Speak Out Against Perry's Prayer Rally

Banding with the discriminatory American Family Association, advocates of the radical Seven Mountains Dominionism ideology, and a litany of anti-gay zealots and End Times preachers to put on his The Response prayer rally, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is orchestrating an event that rejects both non-Christians and Christians who don’t embrace the organizers’ far-right politics and religious fundamentalism.

Over fifty clergymen from the Houston area are questioning the appropriateness of Perry’s exclusionary prayer rally, which will be held in Houston’s Reliant Stadium this weekend, in a letter organized by the Anti-Defamation League:

One of Houston's greatest strengths is its religious diversity. As part of the Anti-Defamation League's Coalition for Mutual Respect, we are keenly sensitive to the fact that Houstonians may pray differently or not pray at all. We cherish the fact that we can pray freely in our own way, because our founding fathers wisely envisioned and provided for a nation grounded in the principle of separation of church and state. This freedom from government imposed religion allows all religions to flourish in our democratic society. It is with this thought in mind that we express our concern that Governor Rick Perry has called for a full day of exclusionary prayer on August 6, 2011. This religious event is not open to all faiths, as its statement of beliefs does not represent religious diversity.

Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. His official involvement with the Response at minimum violates the spirit of that duty. By his actions, Governor Perry is expressing an official message of endorsement of one faith over all others; thereby sending an official message of religious exclusion and preference to all Texans who do not share that faith. We believe our religious freedom is threatened when a government official promotes religion, especially one religion over all others. We urge our elected leaders, who have the privilege of representing us, to practice their own religion as they choose without seeking to impose their beliefs on others or using their official offices to divide citizens along religious lines. They should be role models for all Americans, and can be by honoring and respecting our constitutional freedoms.

In June, the Houston Clergy Council released a statement decrying Perry for organizing the rally with the AFA and rebuffing “Houston’s vibrant and diverse religious landscape”:

We believe in a healthy boundary between church and state. Out of respect for the state, we believe that it should represent all citizens equally and without preference for religious or philosophical tradition. Out of respect for religious communities, we believe that they should foster faithful ways of living without favoring one political party over another. Keeping the church and state separate allows each to thrive and upholds our proud national tradition of empowering citizens to worship freely and vote conscientiously. We are concerned that our governor has crossed the line by organizing and leading a religious event rather than focusing on the people’s business in Austin.

We also express concern that the day of prayer and fasting at Reliant Stadium is not an inclusive event. As clergy leaders in the nation’s fourth largest city, we take pride in Houston’s vibrant and diverse religious landscape. Our religious communities include Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, and many other faith traditions. Our city is also home to committed agnostics and atheists, with whom we share common cause as fellow Houstonians. Houston has long been known as a “live and let live” city, where all are respected and welcomed. It troubles us that the governor’s prayer event is not open to everyone. In the publicized materials, the governor has made it clear that only Christians of a particular kind are welcome to pray in a certain way. We feel that such an exclusive event does not reflect the rich tapestry of our city.

Our deepest concern, however, lies in the fact that funding for this event appears to come from the American Family Association, an organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The American Family Association and its leadership have a long track record of anti-gay speech and have actively worked to discriminate against the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. The American Family Association and its leadership have also been stridently anti-Muslim, going so far as to question the rights of Muslim Americans to freely organize and practice their faith. We believe it is inappropriate for our governor to organize a religious event funded by a group known for its discriminatory stances.

As religious leaders, we commit to join with all Houstonians in working to make our city a better place. We will lead our communities in prayer, meditation, and spiritual practice. We ask that Rick Perry leave the ministry to us and refocus his energy on the work of governing our state.

Coming Soon: AFA 'documentary' could save the Republic from secularists and gays

Another reason to get your tickets for this year's Values Voter Summit: a fundraising letter from the American Family Association promises that its new "documentary" -- Divorcing God: Secularism, Sexual Anarchy and the Future of the Republic -- will debut at the VVS, the major annual political gathering for the Religious Right movement.

The letter from AFA President Tim Wildmon indicates that the group is eager to maintain its status at a top source for over-the-top anti-gay rhetoric and religious bigotry. Wildmon writes that Divorcing God "connects the dots" among three movements that have "contributed to America's moral decline" -- the secular/humanist movement, the sexual revolution, and the homosexual movement. But it's really about the latter.  "In the relentless drive to convince our society that homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality, we see the convergence of all three movements. The New York [marriage equality] vote is a potent case-in-point."

Wildmon cites a verse from the biblical book of Jeremiah in which he says God complains about humanity's rebellion against His law, and then Wildom writes:

Doesn't this describe the past 60 years of America's attempt to run from God?

It began when the humanists insisted that God be driven from the public square through the so-called 'separation of church and state.'

It continued into the 1960s with the transformation of the marital embrace from an act of love and creativity to an act of mere self-pleasure and self-worship that ultimately led to the legalization of abortion.

Now our nation's rebellion has reach [sic] the point that homosexuality is seen as normal, and same-sex marriage is embraced as a civil right.

In Romans 1, Paul uses homosexuality to describe the ultimate idolatry and rejection of God and His dominion over us, since it is a violation of the natural law that God wrote on the hearts of all mankind.

Fortunately, says Wildmon, God hasn't abandoned America...yet.  God is "calling us back to Himself," says Wildmon, "And one way He is doing so is through the voice of the AFA, especially the message of Divorcing God: Secularism, Sexual Anarchy and the Future of the Republic."  And if the AFA can raise "literally hundreds of thousands" of dollars to get Divorcing God onto cable networks and into churches across America, it just might be possible to save the Republic.

Right Wing Round-Up

Tim Pawlenty Wants You To Know That He Is A Christian

Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign has released a six-minute video dedicated entirely to Pawlenty and his wife Mary talking about the importance of their Christian faith, criticizing the separation of church and state, and highlighting their opposition to abortion and marriage equality:

AFA Says "No Political Candidates Will Be Speaking" At Gov. Perry's Prayer Rally

Sure, Gov. Rick Perry's key advisers may be laying the groundwork in Iowa for his increasingly likely presidential campaign and leading Religious Right activists might be privately rallying behind that possible campaign ... but just because he is also organizing a massive public prayer rally with dozens of Religious Right activists doesn't mean that his "The Response" event is in any way a political event:

American Family Association sponsors the Response, a national prayer event planned for Reliant Stadium in Houston on August 6. Donald E. Wildmon, founder and Chairman Emeritus of AFA, said those who oppose the event are wrong.

"The Response is an open event. Anyone who wants to pray to Jesus for a nation in crisis is welcome to attend. Next, The Response is a prayer event, not a political event," Wildmon says. "No political candidates will be speaking. Finally our critics say The Response violates the separation of church and state. The event will be held at a public stadium which has no connection to a religious body."

Doug Stringer, founder of Somebody Cares America and president of Turning Point Ministries International, is serving as the National Church and Ministry Mobilization Coordinator for The Response. When he was asked to serve, he admits he was initially reluctant to join forces with Perry. But after discussing the event with other leaders was satisfied that there was no political agenda.

“I didn’t want to officially be a part of The Response if there was any inkling that this would be anything political or that preaching pontificators would use this as an agenda for their individual denominations or political aspirations,” Stringer says. “But the governor said it’s going to stay pure. You can’t buy your way or influence your way to the platform.”

So does that mean that Gov. Perry, the man who is responsible for the entire event and is serving as its public face, will be not be speaking at the event?  Or does it mean that he will speak because he is not going to be a political candidate running for office?

Or, more likely, does it merely mean that Perry is going to remain coy about his plans until after the prayer event and then use it as a launching pad for his presidential campaign? 

Marriage Equality Opponent: Real Jews Don't Wear Rainbow Yarmulkes

Pastor Joseph Mattera is one of the most outspoken opponents of marriage equality legislation in New York, and has condemned gays and lesbians for, among other things, their supposed ties to Nazism and lack of concern for the poor. Reacting to dueling rallies in Albany between the bill’s supporters and detractors, Mattera blasted religious leaders who support marriage equality and cast doubt on their religiosity. He even criticized one “supposed rabbi” for wearing “a rainbow Yakama [sic].”

In anticipation of the state Senate's vote, various groups held rallies Monday -- one side requesting the "separation of church and state," while the other chanted, "God says no!" Joseph Mattera, overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, tells OneNewsNow many of those who support same-sex marriage were irreverent and antagonistic toward the Christian faith.

"The other side was very belligerent. There were ministers, there were people dressed in Catholic garb, and there were supposed rabbis -- at least one with a rainbow Yakama," Bishop Mattera accounts. "So they tried to bring out so-called 'clergy' who were in favor of what they call 'marriage equality.'"

Perkins: Separation Of Church And State Is Provoking God's Judgment On America

Family Research Center president Tony Perkins joined James Robison on Life Today to discuss the dire consequences of the separation of Church and State that has allowed the “unrighteous” to rule. Perkins and Robison, who was Mike Huckabee’s mentor and recently addressed FRC’s Watchmen on the Wall summit, both agreed that God will judge America for not voting for politicians aligned with the Religious Right.

Watch:

Minnesota Republican Candidate For Senate Rejects Separation Of Church And State

The first announced Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state. According to the Associated Press, former state representative Dan Severson will announce later today that he is challenging Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar in the state Capitol after running unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 2010. During his race for Secretary of State, Severson told religious broadcaster Brad Brandon of Word of Truth Radio that the separation of church and state “just does not exist.”

Andy Birkey of The Minnesota Independent reports:

“Quite often you hear people say, ‘What about separation of church and state?’ There is no such thing,” Severson told Brandon. “I mean it just does not exist, and it does not exist in America for a purpose, because we are a Christian nation.”

He continued, “We are a nation based on Christian principles and ideals, and those are the things that guarantee our liberties. It is one of those things that is so fundamental to the freedoms that we have that when you begin to restrict our belief and our attestation to our Christian values you begin to restrict our liberties.”

He added, “You simply cannot continue a nation as America without that Christian base of liberty.”

Severson says voters must know his position on the matter.

“Look, this is what I stand for. If you don’t like that, don’t vote for me, and then the majority of the people will have their voice heard,” he said. “It’s wrong for politicians to do one thing on the campaign trail to get the vote and do exactly the opposite once they get to office. To me that is an impeachable offense.”

Scott Walker’s Latest Pro-Voucher Gambit Exposes Dishonesty Of The Voucher Movement

Private school voucher advocates and their allies in the so-called “education reform” movement readily talk about the need for rigorous, constant testing along with the application of free market principles to education: reward high-performing schools and teachers and punish bad ones.

Over the last decade, Milwaukee has been a laboratory for private school vouchers, and the results have been poor: numerous studies have shown that vouchers failed to make any difference in student performance. Just like in Washington, DC and Cleveland, private school vouchers in Milwaukee failed to produce the gains their supporters promised as students, with students in the Milwaukee voucher program actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

But now Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants to expand the ineffective voucher program while cutting funds to public schools. And so much for the emphasis on testing -- voucher students will now be exempted from the tests that revealed the program’s failure.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports:

Milwaukee’s voucher school program would be expanded under a Republican-backed bill expected to pass the state Assembly on Tuesday.



State Superintendent Tony Evers has questioned expanding the voucher program at the same time Walker is proposing cutting public school aid by more than $800 million over the next two years.



Walker is also proposing eliminating in his budget that voucher students take the same statewide achievement tests that public school students must take.

This year, results were released for the first time comparing public school and voucher students. They showed voucher students lagging behind their peers in public schools.

That’s right, even though voucher students are “lagging behind their peers in public schools,” voucher programs are being rewarded with expansion while public schools are punished with cuts. With little care for accountability and testing, this move by Walker and the Wisconsin GOP demonstrates how the push for private school vouchers is really about the Right’s ideological war against public education.

The pro-voucher American Federation for Children is even launching an ad campaign to defend Wisconsin Republicans facing recall votes, and recently hosted an event where they honored Walker for his voucher advocacy. AFC was founded and funded by Betsy Devos, a Religious Right activist and wife of Dick Devos, the son of the founder of Amway and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. Today, AFC is one of the most aggressive pro-voucher groups, and aims to fully privatize public education.

Through their advocacy for private school vouchers, the Devos family merged their anti-union and anti-public school beliefs with their mission to chip away at the separation of church and state. The Devos family is a key benefactor of Religious Right groups across the country, financing major social conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Council for National Policy, and provided almost the entire funding for Maggie Gallagher’s Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

With Scott Walker admitting that the private school voucher movement’s emphasis on testing, results and accountability is hogwash, it is abundantly clear what the real goal is: privatizing public education.

Fact Checking Barton Part I: Texas Textbooks

With no academic credentials as a historian, David Barton toldThe Daily Show host Jon Stewart that his involvement in editing textbooks around the country was proof that he is a respected and esteemed historian. However, his work with textbooks if anything reveals his blatant partisanship and pseudo-scholarship.

As Mariah Blake writes in The Washington Monthly, Barton’s Christian nation mythology was indeed just one aspect of his role shaping the Texas textbooks as a consultant for the Texas School Board. Barton wanted to give a positive spin to Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist politics and “purge the standards of key figures of the civil rights era, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall.” As Blake writes, Barton tried to diminish the work of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther Ling Jr. by arguing “that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, ‘Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.’ Ergo, any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites—in his view, mostly white Republican men.”

Barton, who was once vice-chair of the Texas GOP and a paid surrogate of the Republican National Committee, tirelessly works to convince black audiences that they should vote for Republicans and oppose the Democratic Party because the GOP is responsible for black civil rights.

But Barton’s claims that he writes about more than just America as a “Christian nation” shouldn’t distract from the reason Texas School Board members invited Barton to edit their textbooks in the first place. In fact, then-Texas School Board member Cynthia Dunbar admitted that it was the board’s goal to promote religion through the state’s textbooks to counteract “a Biblically illiterate society,” and another ex-member Don McLeroy said that it was his job at the School Board to fight “secular humanists” because “we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles” and “the way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel.”

Barton also told Jon Stewart that he was used to help write textbooks in other states, namely California. However, this is quite an exaggeration. Rob Boston writes that while Barton was invited by a conservative to advise California in its development of textbooks, his proposals went nowhere:

In 1998, a conservative member of the California Academic Standards Commission appointed Barton to an advisory position, asking the Texan to critique proposed social studies/history standards. From that perch, Barton attacked the portion of the standards that discussed the development of religious freedom, trying to remove every reference to separation of church and state.

He almost pulled it off. Commission members, unfamiliar with Barton’s agenda, seemed open to adopting his suggestions. They changed course only after intervention by Americans United’s Sacramento Chapter, AU’s national office and others.

Chris Rodda of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation notes that this isn’t the only time Barton embellished his work with other states, as he also worked with Michele Bachmann when she was a Minnesota state legislator to ensure that schools display the Declaration of Independence.

Such a record of exaggeration demonstrates why real historians, including Christian historians, who have followed David Barton have repeatedly criticized and dismissed his faulty “scholarship.”

Exposing David Barton's Bunk

Today, People For the American Way released a new report entitled "Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America" written by PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery that exposes David Barton's shoddy pseudo-history and why it matters: 

Barton’s growing visibility and influence with members of Congress and other Republican Party officials is troubling for many reasons: he distorts history and the Constitution for political purposes; he encourages religious divisiveness and unequal treatment for religious minorities; and he feeds a toxic political climate in which one’s political opponents are not just wrong, but evil and anti-God.

Scholars have criticized Barton for presenting facts out of context or in misleading ways, but that hasn’t stopped him from promoting his theories through books, television, and, yes, the textbooks that will teach the next generation of Americans. He promotes conspiracy theories about elites hiding the truth from average Americans in order to undermine the nation from within. Last summer, he declared that liberal and media attacks on the Tea Party were just like attacks on Jesus. In February, Barton spoke at the Connect 2011 Pastors Conference, where he said that Christians needed to control the culture and media so that “guys that have a secular viewpoint cannot survive.” Said Barton, “If the press lacks moral discrimination, it’s because we haven’t been pushing our people to chop that kind of news off.”

Barton’s work is not just an academic exercise. It is meant to have a political impact. For Barton, “documenting” the divine origins of his interpretations of the Constitution gives him and his political allies a potent weapon. Barton promotes a false reality in which anyone who opposes any element of his political agenda stands in opposition to both the Founding Fathers and to God. He believes that everything in our society – government, the judiciary, the economy, the family – should be governed according to the Bible, and he promotes a view of the Bible and Jesus that many Christians would not recognize. Opponents, even Christians, who disagree with Barton about tax policy or the powers of Congress are not only wrong, they are un-American and anti-religious, enemies of America and of God.

President Obama is a particularly frequent target of Barton’s. In January, one of his WallBuilders Live radio shows was titled “Why is Obama Trying to Remove God from the United States?” In March, right-wing “news” service WND quoted Barton accusing Obama (falsely of course) of being “engaged in a pattern of ‘willfully, deliberately’ repudiating America's Christian heritage.”

Those are the kind of accusations long favored by the Religious Right, and they are destructive. Claims that political opponents are evil and are actively trying to destroy Americans’ freedoms poison the public arena, make constructive civic discourse nearly impossible, and have the potential to incite acts of violence.

Elected officials who endorse Barton give his claims credibility they do not deserve. He in turn gives cover and a veneer of legitimacy to right-wing politicians interested in putting their notions of a nation created by and for Christians into public policy. Both Barton and his backers are undermining understanding of, and respect for, vital American values and constitutional principles like separation of church and state and equal treatment under the law.

And last night, Peter appeared on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell to discuss Barton and his influence:

Syndicate content

Separation of Church and State Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Thursday 12/11/2014, 4:15pm
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... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 12/09/2014, 4:10pm
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... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/29/2014, 3:46pm
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.... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 10/22/2014, 12:50pm
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... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 10/03/2014, 3:39pm
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... MORE
Drew Courtney, Monday 09/22/2014, 11:37am
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.... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 09/19/2014, 4:41pm
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... MORE