Threats

Respect for women, VVS-style

During Saturday morning’s plenary session at the Values Voter Summit, anti-choice activist Lila Rose bragged about her organization’s attacks on Planned Parenthood, and its success in denying the family planning group some state and city funds.  Rose, whose remarks rivaled Carrie Prejean’s in self-satisfied smugness,  included the standard threats against pro-choice legislators. But the most memorable moment was her suggestion that, as long as abortion remains legal, women should be forced to have the abortions done in the public square. Nice.

Going Out of Business? OR's Newman Says "No," While His Letter Says "Yes"

The other day, we posted on a Washington Post article highlighting a recent fund-raising letter from Operation Rescue warning that it was on the verge of shutting its doors if it didn't get donations and financial help soon.

Now, OR's Troy Newman is complaining that the letter "is being misreported by the media":

Media obtained a copy of the letter and then started placing stories indicating Operation Rescue "is very close to shutting down unless emergency help arrives soon" (Associated Press). That report quotes Operation Rescue's Troy Newman as saying: "We're so broke (as the saying goes), we can't even pay attention."

But Newman tells OneNewsNow that report is an exaggeration. "Rumors of Operation Rescue's demise are grossly overrated -- and it's something that the liberal left-wing media loves to salivate over," he states.

One report theorized the pro-life group suffered financially because of its long campaign against late-term abortionist George Tiller, who was murdered in May. AP refers to the murder as "a public relations nightmare" for the group. But Newman says that is not true.

"The real impact upon us and all non-profits is that the economic crisis, the recession that we're in that began late last year, has impacted everybody, across the board, 30-40% down in their giving -- and Operation Rescue is no different," he adds.

Newman says there have been good and bad times during his 20 years of ministry, but they rely first on the Lord and secondly on donors. The end result, he shares, is that no bills have gone unpaid.

Really?  Because if you read the letter Newman sent out it seems as if the media reports were entirely accurate.  After all, how else are you supposed to interpret Newman's assertions that the organization was "now so broke (as the saying goes), we can't even pay attention," admissions that "we struggle to pay every bill [and] had to borrow money just to send you this letter," and warnings that "we're completely out of money" and that "we're getting very close to the point of shutting everything down if emergency help doesn't arrive soon"?:

Dear Friend of Operation Rescue,

I need you to please stop whatever you're doing right now and read this letter. It's that urgent.

At this moment, I'm writing this from a closed abortion mill.

It's the one in Wichita, Kansas, where more than 50,000 innocent babies were brutally murdered from 1983 to 2006, until we at Operation Rescue bought the building and kicked the baby-killers out!

The abortion staff who worked here never re-opened. They are permanently out of business. And babies are thereby saved.

We "exorcised" this building and turned it into our national headquarters. So now, babies are being saved in this building! And I firmly believe that the souls of the 50,000 babies killed here are cheering me on.

I sure hope so. Because right now, I need cheering on.

You see, this summer has been brutal for Operation Rescue. Not only did George Tiller's death throw everybody in the pro-life movement for a loop (and especially us), but the economic crisis our nation is suffering from has brought our financial support to nearly a halt.

We're now so broke (as the saying goes), we can't even pay attention.

Seriously. We struggle to pay every bill. I had to borrow money just to send you this letter, in hopes that you will come to our rescue so that we can continue to rescue babies.

And, what's really frustrating is that this crisis couldn't have come at a worse time.

Why?

Because, in the next 30 days, we're planning to launch the most ambitious and most significant project in our entire history.

It's something that's going to devastate the abortion cartel. It could even help end abortion in America once and for all.

Basically, it centers around our unique ability to close abortion mills.

And although I can't go into detail about it -- because we need to take the abortion cartel by surprise -- I can tell you that it will be a totally NEW phase in the pro-life fight.

We've been working on it all summer. And we were planning to launch it in the next 30 days.

However, now that we're completely out of money, I'm afraid we won't even be able to launch it... ever!

And that would be the worst defeat imaginable.

The only thing that can save this project is EMERGENCY FUNDING -- and EMERGENCY PRAYERS -- so that we can move forward as planned.

Because when abortion mills get closed, babies are saved.

It's just that simple.

For instance, here at the closed abortion mill that's now my office, we recently had a young woman knock on our door.

She came for an abortion, because she thought this was still an abortion mill. The same one where she had an abortion as a teenager years ago.

What she got instead was about an hour of much-needed counseling from our staff, plus an armload of educational materials.

And, praise God, she's decided to keep her baby!

With our new project, we can continue to close abortion mills around the country -- faster and easier than ever before.

Why, just last year, we were instrumental in closing at least 10 mills!

And as you'll see on the enclosed yellow sheet of paper, we've closed more than 40 abortion mills over the years!!

Right now, there are only about 729 mills left in the United States -- down significantly from the 2,126 mills that were killing babies back in 1991...!!

Our new project can get rid of those 729 mills -- one at a time -- peacefully and legally.

No violence. No threats. Just super-effective activism that we've learned and perfected over the last 20 years.

I'll tell you all about this new project in my next letter to you. Revealing the details now would be counter-productive.

However, I can't even move forward on it unless we get out of this financial crisis immediately.

That's why I urge you to take a look at the enclosed yellow sheet with the list of closed abortion mills. You'll be pleasantly shocked.

And then I beseech you to rush a life-saving gift -- of any amount -- so that we can get back on our feet and move forward with this exciting new project.

Without your help -- and your prayers and God's grace -- this project will go nowhere.

And that means all those abortion mills will stay OPEN and continue killing the innocent little babies like the ones that were killed in this building I'm sitting in.

50,000 of them--in one abortion mill alone.

We know how to close abortion mills. And this new project is how we'll get the job done.

But we can't even get it started without your utmost help at this time.

Frankly, we're getting very close to the point of shutting everything down if emergency help doesn't arrive soon.

That would be a devastating blow -- especially at this time when we're actually WINNING the pro-life fight.

More people (a majority of Americans, in fact) identify themselves as opposed to abortion, especially younger Americans. The number of abortion mills has been cut by two-thirds since 1991. The total number of abortions is down by 400,000 per year! The abortion cartel can't find new abortionists, and the average age of the existing abortionists is 72. All this adds up to VICTORY for the babies and for our country -- but ONLY if we can keep moving forward.

And that, unfortunately, takes money.

So please prayerfully consider what size gift you can afford to send to us right away.

There's no time to lose.

I thank you for being there for us in the past.

And I thank you in advance for helping us now.

God bless you.

For the Babies,

Troy Newman

President, Operation RescueP.S. I can't emphasize this enough...

This is the worst financial crisis we have ever faced. And it's hit us at the worst time possible.

Without emergency help from our loyal supporters like you, I hate to think what kind of situation we'll be forced into.

But let me tell you: Our enemies in the abortion cartel would rejoice. And the angels would weep.

Please don't let that happen. Please send your emergency gift TODAY.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Rifqa Bary and the Plot To Destroy Our Constituion

Yesterday we noted that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation into the wild allegations made by right-wing activists who have rallied in defense of 17 year-old Christian convert Rifqa Bary reported that their claims were false and that Bary would face no danger if she were returned to her parents in Ohio.

The summary has been posted on-line [PDF] and the St. Petersburg Times' Michael Kruse provides this report on its findings:

In her interview in the FDLE's investigation, Bary said her father threatened her by holding her laptop over her head, saying he was going to kill her. Her father denied threatening her. He said he grabbed the laptop and lifted it to throw it, but reconsidered because it was expensive.

Bary also said her father once hit her in the face for interrupting a conversation, and on another occasion hit her for not wanting to wear the Islamic head scarf called the hijab, but that he hadn't hit her since middle school. Her father denied ever having hit her. Her mother and her brother said they had never seen him hit her. A spokesman at the school district where the girl goes to school told the FDLE investigators that no abuse or suspected abuse was ever reported.

Bary told investigators that she had told a teacher at her school about her fears and that the teacher offered her home as a haven. The teacher told investigators that she made the offer because Bary had told her she was uncomfortable with some of the parties her older brother was having when their parents weren't home.

Bary told investigators that she hitchhiked to the Greyhound station. One of her friends, Brian M. Williams, told FDLE that he picked her up from another friend's house and took her to the bus.

Bary told investigators she used money she had saved from her part-time job at a Chinese restaurant to buy her bus ticket. But someone in Orlando bought the ticket, according to the report, using "a fictitious name."

Bary told investigators that her parents didn't know that she was a cheerleader. Her father told the FDLE investigators that he knew about her cheerleading, approved of it, and sometimes took her to practice. In the Bary home in Ohio, the report noted, pictures of the girl in her cheerleading uniform were "prominently displayed in the family living room."

It appears as if just about every claim made by right-wing activists in this case has turned out to be unsubstantiated according the FDLE investigation, which concluded that there is no evidence of any abuse and no indication that she's in danger if she is returned to her Muslim parents in Ohio.

So, of course, that means that the FDLE report itself is now a danger to Bary and places the United States on the road to Islamic totalitarianism, as Frank Gaffney explains:

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is supposed to be in the business of saving lives. Yet, a just-released report by FDLE investigators may prove to be a death sentence.

...

Unfortunately, the Florida investigators failed to perform their assignment. They found “no conclusive reports of threats” against Rifqa Bary. At best, their report is incomplete. At worst, it is misleading, possibly fatally so.

...

Should such a restoration take place in this case, it will be further evidence that America is succumbing to the stealth jihad that is inexorably insinuating that seditious Islamic program into our society, in Florida and elsewhere across this country. In that event, the result of failing to fight the Islamists in this case may prove to be not just a death sentence for Rifqa Bary. It could turn out as well to be an important milestone in the submission of all Americans to the program that explicitly seeks to replace our Constitution and the liberties it enshrines with the brutal and repressive program known as Shariah.

So, in short: the FDLE report concluded that Bary was in no danger and that pretty much everything her right-wing supporters had been claiming was false, which, according to those right-wing supporters, only proves that the FDLE and others are engaged in a conspiracy to kill Bary and "replace our Constitution and the liberties it enshrines with the brutal and repressive program known as Shariah."

Rifqa Bary and the Right Wing Holy War

Back on September 3, the judge overseeing the case involving Rifqa Bary sealed the findings from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation into the wild allegations made by right-wing activists who have been claiming that she'd be she'd be murdered if she were sent back to her parents in Ohio, alleging that the mosque her parents attend is a terrorist hotbed, and even throwing around allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

The report was to be sealed for ten days to give all parties a chance to read it over. Well, the ten days are up and early reports on its contents say the report has not substantiated any of the right-wing claims:

The FDLE report on the case of a teenage girl who ran away from home fearing an honor killing for converting to Christianity shows local church officials likely had a role in getting her to Orlando.

The report, which was under a 10-day seal that expired Monday, alleges 17-year-old Rifqa Bary misled investigators about most of the details about how she arrived in Florida.

Bary initially claimed she hitchhiked her way to the Greyhound bus station in Columbus, Ohio and used money she had saved up from her job to buy the ticket to Orlando. Instead, investigators say she was driven to the bus station by a young pastor named Brian Williams. He baptized Bary in Columbus but has since moved to Kansas City. And the ticket, they say, was purchased under a fake name by someone in Orlando.

Once here, authorities say she was met by the Law family, apparently leading members of the Global Revolution Church, and taken to the home of the church's Pastor Blake Lorenz. She stayed there for 2-and-a-half weeks before her first hearing in juvenile court that placed her in foster care. The report does not say that the Lorenz family, or the church as a whole, had an explicit role in getting Bary to Orlando.

The Global Revolution Church is now "restructuring," according to reports.

The report also found no evidence to back up claims of abuse or serious threats to Bary.

Bary told investigators her father had punched her while they rode in a car because she had shown embarrassment about wearing an Islamic headscarf. Her father denied that allegation. However, FDLE says it did not investigate that specific incident, or other claims of physical or sexual abuse, because they would have occurred outside Florida's jurisdiction. Ohio authorities told them they had no reports of the abuse.

The teen also told authorities her teacher had offered to let Bary stay at her house if she needed to get away from repercussions from her family because of her Christian faith. But when the FDLE interviewed that teacher, she told them she offered up her house because Bary's brother was having parties with alcohol at the Bary home when their parents were out of town, and she had never been told about threats of danger to Bary because of her Christian faith.

Of course, the findings in this report probably won't dissuade right-wing activists like Pamella Geller of Atlas Shrugs from their crusade to save Bary from the horrors of Islam or stop her from penning diatribes like this piece entitled "Is Newsweek Trying to Kill Rifqa Bary?" any time anyone writes an article that doesn't re-confirm her biases.

In her piece, Geller attacks this recent Newsweek article as being riddled with errors and misrepresentations, such as this: 

Finally, [author Arian] Campo-Flores asked of Rifqa's family: "if they were indeed such fanatics, why would they have let their daughter prance around as a cheerleader?" But according to [Rifqa's friend Jamal] Jivanjee, Rifqa's parents never saw her in her cheerleader's uniform. The cheerleaders had a warm-up suit; when Rifqa dressed to go to games, she had the warm-up suit on, never the cheerleading skirt. But Campo-Flores never bothered to discover that.

Really?  Because if you scroll ahead about 2 minutes into this recent video from ABC News, you can see Bary's father showing ABC's Dan Harris photos of Rifqa in her cheerleading outfit:

And if there are any doubts that the right-wing activists who have rallied around Riifqa are doing so as part of their perceived battle between Christianity and Islam, this ought to dispel it:

At the Orlando prayer meeting on Sept. 2, believers talked about how God is using Rifqa as a catalyst to bring more people to Christ.

They asked God to heal her right eye, blinded in a childhood accident, as a divine sign. "It would show the world there is one true living God,"[Blake] Lorenz said. "We do believe, oh God, Jesus is preparing the world for his return."

As should this article from Charisma:

U.S., author Joel C. Rosenberg and Oklahoma pastor Reza Safa hope to educate Christians about the ongoing danger of Muslim extremism through events being broadcast tonight online.

"The leaders of racial Islam no longer simply want to terrorize us, they want to annihilate us, and they're trying to obtain the weapons to do it," said Rosenberg, author of the New York Times best-seller Inside the Islamic Revolution, which was adapted into a documentary that released today.

Rosenberg will lead a webcast town hall tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern that is to be broadcast into more than 600 churches from Calvary Chapel Philadelphia. Speakers include retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and Christian revivalist Hormoz Shariat, a former radical Shia Muslim.

Meanwhile, Safa is hosting a free conference at River of Life Assembly of God in Estero, Fla., that is aimed at reversing the ideology that birthed 9/11, which Safa says is still alive and well. The Reversing Jihad Conference begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern and will be broadcast live online at Lifestream.tv.

The event, which runs through Saturday afternoon, features such speakers as evangelist Sam Shamoun; Tom Trento, president of the Florida Security Council, a terrorist watchdog group; and pastor Jeremiah Cummings, a former member of the Nation of Islam.

Trento's Florida Security Council just so happens to be the group behind the website "The Rifqa Bary Story"

In fact, this spiritual battle against Islam seems to be a driving force behind a lot of right-wing activism, like the "Cry Out America" 9/11 prayer rally we mentioned last week:

[Billy Wilson] said 9/11 also illuminated the spiritual battle the nation is in to maintain its Judeo-Christian identity.

"There is an encroachment of Islamic thought in America, and the Islamic agenda is growing in the United States," Wilson said. "We see that the real spiritual battle in America is going to be around this particular front, the pluralism of the nation. Cry Out America is really about lifting the name of Jesus in the public square again and that wherever else we look, the real answer for us is in God and in Christ in the nation."

Dobson and Scarborough: Things Were So Great After 9/11

Last week we mentioned that Rick Scarborough was going to be a guest on James Dobson's radio program. That program aired on Friday and Dobson and Scarborough spent the half-hour lamenting everything from the current state of the nation to the passing of Dobson's generation of right-wing leaders.

It began with Scarborough and Dobson lamenting that, following 9/11, the churches were filled with Americans seeking God, but in the years since, that has fallen off and the "sense of urgency" has been lost.  Americans, but more importantly churches, need to "wake up" to the threats this country faces from President Obama's agenda. Dobson says there has never "been a time in our country where we have needed prayer more than we need it right now":

 

 

Dobson and Scarborough then voiced their worries about the sorry state of preachers in this nation, with Dobson saying that his "class" of political activists, like D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson, are passing on, and noted that he was "grateful" that there was second wave of leaders such as Scarborough whom would carry on that tradition:

 

Scarborough then declared that Religious Right leaders must take advantage of the outpouring of conservative outrage and hostility that gave rise to the Tea Parties and "get out in front of the movement and begin to define it":

 

Scarborough even related how he was using clips from Glenn Beck in his church sermons about the threat from President Obama's "czars" and the threat of the Fairness Doctrine:

 

Of particular concern is hate crimes legislation, which Scarborough vowed to defy and proclaimed his willingness to go to prison rather than stop preaching, saying "when it's illegal to preach that homosexuality is a sin, I will break that law" (of course, that is not going to happen, so this is just grandstanding):

 

Huckabee's EMP Warnings

Last month we noted that Mike Huckabee was scheduled to be one of the speakers at the "Protecting America Against Permanent Continental Shutdown From Electromagnetic Pulse" conference.

The conference was held earlier this week and Huckabee used his address to declare an EPM attack one of the greatest threats we face as a nation and lash out at the "cynics" who make "snarky" comments about the threat:

“This is a clear and present danger to our way of life in our country,” Huckabee said. “We are so dependent on electricity, its loss is a catastrophe, not an inconvenience.”

Huckabee was the keynote speaker on the second day of an EMPACT America conference exploring the threat of an EMP incident and what can be done to protect against it.

...

Huckabee said while some people would sneer at and make “snarky comments” about those predictions, it did not make them less likely.

“We should not minimize the threat of EMP,” he said. “There’s always going to be cynics. There were cynics who didn’t believe the Japanese were a threat (to attack Pearl Harbor) and there were cynics who didn’t believe radical Islam was a threat" ... Recalling the unpredicted terrorist attacks of 9/11, Huckabee said, “The greatest threat we face today is the naiveté about the threat of our enemies. Any country who has the capacity to explode a nuclear device is a threat.”

On a related note, TNR's Michael Crowley wrote an article on this whole EMP issue earlier this summer called "The Newt Bomb: How a pulp-fiction fantasy became a GOP weapons craze."

Reports: Anti-Abortion Activist Shot In Michigan

Early reports are coming in that a "well-known anti-abortion activist" was shot and killed in Michigan this morning, and that another man was shot a few miles away.  The police say the two shooting are related and that a suspect is in custody but aren't releasing any more information:

A well-known anti-abortion activist was shot multiple times and killed Friday morning in front of a Michigan high school and another man was shot and killed just miles away in what police are investigating as related incidents.

Michigan State Police have taken a suspect into custody but have not released the name of the victim, the Flint Journal reported. The school was placed on immediate lockdown, though no students were injured or involved in the shooting, Ossowo Hish School officials told the paper.

School officials say the shooting took place outside of school grounds around 7:30 a.m., when most students were already inside the building for classes. The school, located 20 miles west of Flint, is now allowing students to leave with a parental escort, WLNS News reported.

The suspect was picked up at his home at about 8:15 a.m. and is now being investigated in connection with a second killing that occurred a few miles away from the school, WNEM News reported.

Anti-abortion have already scheduled a press conference before anything is even known about the situation:

The Washington DC based Christian Defense Coalition will hold a news conference today, Friday, September 11, at 2:30 PM, in front of the US Department of Justice, on Pennsylvania Avenue.
News Conference Details---

When: Friday, September 11, at 2:30 PM
Where: In front of the U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania, Washington, DC
Who: Christian Defense Coalition director Rev. Patrick Mahoney, and other pro-life leaders
Why: To Comment on Murder of a pro-life activist in Michigan this morning

"Pro-life leaders have received numerous death threats. We call upon the Obama Administration and the Department of Justice to put the manpower and attention they have given in the past to the murder of abortion providers toward solving this case. If breaking news reports are accurate, this was a long time friend of mine." -- Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition

Priests for Life says it was a man named James Pouillon:

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement today upon learning of the shooting of longtime pro-life activist James Pouillon in front of a high school in Owosso, Michigan.

"We do not know the motive yet. But this is a time to console one another, and to renew our determination to organize peaceful protests. It is no time for fear. And I am waiting to hear the abortion advocates condemn this killing."

UPDATE: The Flint Journal confirms his identity:

An anti-abortion activist gunned down Friday morning in front of Owosso High School has been identified as James Lawrence Pouillon, 63, of Owosso.

Pouillon was a longtime abortion protester, known for his highly vocal and visible public demonstrations around the community and even outside the state.

Longtime friend and fellow activist Judy Climer, president of Flint Right to Life, described Pouillon as "just a nice, elderly gentleman who was disabled, used an oxygen tank and wore leg braces."

Climer said Pouillon had a regular weekly schedule of visits to abortion clinics in Flint and Saginaw, where he would park across the street and pray when abortions were allegedly being conducted.

"I knew him very well. He told me one time God put in his heart a passion for the little babies that have the right to be born and they were being denied that right," said Climer, who said Pouillon often stopped at her office for coffee breaks as he drove from one location to another to demonstrate.

"He even told me once he'd be willing to die for that belief. That's what I hear him saying right now."

Climer said Pouillon called her last week and told her he planned to be in Flint later today, parked across the street from the Feminine Health Care Center, 2032 S. Saginaw Street.

"He always comes. He would even go up to Saginaw at 7:30 a.m. and pray, then come here to Flint at noon," said Climer. "This was a passion he's had for 20 years, to just pray that abortion would come to an end and that women would see the truth that abortion is murder."

...

Pouillon was arrested in 1994 for disorderly conduct, in a case where he allegedly harassed parents as they took their children to day care at First Congregational Church in Owosso.

In a 2003 Flint Journal report of the case, Pouillon said that he targeted the church because it had hosted a 25th anniversary celebration for the local Planned Parenthood office.

At the time, Pouillon said he urged parents escorting children, "Don't take your kids to that church. They kill babies in there. They support abortion."

The 1994 police report indicated Pouillon was screaming at pre-school children and their mothers but Pouillon said he and a church member were shouting only because they stood hundreds of feet apart.

The state Supreme Court ordered the state Court of Appeals to rule on the case, which overturned Pouillon's conviction in 2003.

In another case, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a ruling that ordered the city of Owosso to reimburse Pouillon for legal costs from another 1994 incident in which Pouillon was cleared of charges of resisting a police officer. In that incident, Pouillon was jailed after failing to heed a police demand that he stop demonstrating on an outdoor landing near City Hall.

What Rifqa Bary Means To The Religious Right

The saga of Rafiq Bary continues to drag on.

The short version is that Bary is a 17 year old girl from a Muslim family in Ohio who converted to Christianity, reportedly 4 years ago. Several months ago, her father bought her a laptop and she started spending all of her time on Facebook and sometime during that period became convinced that her father was going to kill her in an "honor killing."  Someone eventually bought her a bus ticket and she fled from her home in Ohio to Florida where she lived for nearly two weeks Blake and Beverly Lorenz of Global Revolution Church, whom she had gotten to know through a Facebook prayer group. Her parents say she's been brainwashed, her defenders say they are just trying to save her life.

Bary's case has, in recent weeks, become a huge deal for the Religious Right and has been getting lots of coverage from places like Fox News, WorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow, and Human Events and has also been championed by several Religious Right groups like Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

It's likewise been a huge deal on right-wing blogs, and some bloggers even showed up outside of the hearing last week:

Before the hearing on Thursday, outside in front of the courthouse, Tom Trento held a news conference, as he did before the first hearing. He's from the Florida Security Council, an organization with the slogan of "Securing Florida Against Terror." This time, though, he brought a pastor from Ohio and a pair of anti-Islam bloggers.

Jamal Jivanjee, the Ohio pastor, compared Rifqa Bary to Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who was killed by Nazis in World War II and whose diary became what many consider one of the most important books of the 20th century.

Robert Spencer, who writes on a blog called Jihad Watch, told reporters Islam was here to take over America. Pam Geller of the Atlas Shrugs blog dismissed the results of the Franklin County investigation by saying things were "corrupt in Ohio."

"Forget your political correctness!" she said.

But the driving force behind this entire spectacle seems to be John Stemberger, who stepped in to represent Bary and just so happens to be the president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council, which is a state affiliate of Focus on the Family.  He was also deeply involved in passing Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment last November. 

Once he got involved, he started leveling all sorts of wild accusations, claiming that if Bary were sent back to her parents she'd be murdered and alleging that the mosque her parents attend is a terrorist hotbed and throwing around allegations of sexual and physical abuse. He even publicly revealed Bary's parent's address in Ohio.

The authorities in Ohio conducted an investigation and found there was no reason to suspect that such allegations were true and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted its own investigation and delivered it to court last week ahead of a scheduled hearing on Bary's situation. But suddenly Stemberger asked the judge to seal the report so that nobody in the press or the public could see it.  Though those involved has been barred from discussing the report's findings, Bary's parent's attorney stated that it came back "very favorable" and contained "no evidence whatsoever" of alleged abuse or threats of death made by the girl's parents. The judge ordered the FDLE's investigation into allegations against her parents was sealed for ten days and ordered Bary and her parents to seek the mediation within 30 days, scheduling another hearing for September 29 if the family is not able to resolve the conflict.

Whatever happens regarding Bary's status, it seems clear that those claiming to represent her interests will continue to utilize a strategy that hinges largely on transforming the story of a runaway girl into a full-blown war between Christianity and Islam:

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch. He was in Orlando to take part in a news conference supporting the girl's contention that she would be at grave risk if returned to her family.

"Her testimony is entirely credible. There is indeed a death penalty in Islam for those who leave Islam. Her father attended a mosque that is very devout. It's not the least unbelievable that with the death penalty for apostasy existing, this would put this girl at risk," he notes.

According to Spencer, those advocating for the family attempted to disrupt their news conference. "There was a very rude individual who was connected with the family in Ohio who disrupted our press conference and tried to spread lies about Islamic apostasy law," he adds.

While others will continue to use it an opportunity to win more converts to Christ:

Attorneys for Bary's parents have accused Stemberger in particular of using the case to attack Islam. On Monday, Stemberger filed documents alleging the Ohio mosque the Bary family attends has ties to terrorist groups, claims the mosque's leader denies.

Christian observers say Bary's case, and the media attention it has received, may be part of God's plan for the teen. If her parents had learned of her faith just a year from now, there likely would have been little uproar.

"It is possible that God wanted to do something through this for the Muslim children," said evangelist Steven Masood, a native of Pakistan whose father tried to kill him after learning of his conversion in 1973. He ultimately fled the predominantly Muslim nation in 1981 after being imprisoned for violating its anti-blasphemy laws, which are punishable by death.

"There are teenagers who are looking seriously at what has happened," Masood added. "[They say], ‘If she is doing this, why can't we?' It will bring a lot of honest teenagers out of Islam."

[Jamal] Jivanjee agrees. "I think God wants to elevate her story," he said. "He wants to use it as a wake-up call to other Christians ... and a story of hope for other Muslims. What gave her courage to stand up to her parents has been Jesus. She'd been quiet about her abuse in the past, but she's not quiet about Jesus. It needs to be talked about."

In fact, it seems as if actively seeking the conversion of Muslims is part of a growing right-wing effort:

The Christian missionaries came to Dearborn [Michigan] this summer from across the United States to win over souls for Jesus.

The evangelists handed out literature, held religious debates and met with residents in a city they sought out because of its large numbers of Muslims. It's part of an increasing effort by some Christians, mostly evangelicals, to convert the Muslims of metro Detroit -- in schools, at festivals and on street corners.

To Eric Haven, executive pastor at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, the growth of Islam in the United States gives churches a chance to convert closer to home.

"For years, Christians have sent missionaries around the world to proclaim the gospel of Christ," Haven said. "In this day and age, the world is coming to America. ... So, it's a great opportunity."

The efforts have stepped up in recent years as more Christians have become aware of the Islamic presence in Dearborn, where about one-third of the city's 98,000 residents are of Arab descent, many of them Muslim and some Christian ...

There is money behind the push. One group spent at least $67,000 on materials, airfare and lodging for Christian activists to visit Dearborn this summer.

...

Some residents said the efforts in recent months have crossed over into harassment and bigotry.

During the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn in June, for instance, some Christian evangelists were accused of openly insulting Islam's prophet. And others yelled at passersby "that they were going to hell because they were Muslim," according to a Dearborn police report.

 

Suddenly, Stemberger Clams Up

As I mentioned earlier, Rifqa Bary's case is in court today for a hearing in which a judge will likely decide her fate.

As part of the hearing, the state of Florida investigated the claims made by Bary and her representatives regarding threats to her life and other allegations ... but the report has been sealed at the request of Bary's attorney, John Stemberger: 

The findings of a state investigation into Fathima Rifqa Bary and the alleged threats made against the runaway teen by her Muslim father have been sealed by an Orange County Circuit judge.

The Orlando Sentinel tried to obtain a copy of the report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today, which is slated to be presented in court this afternoon, and was told the agency cannot release the documents because of the seal.

Rifqa's lawyer, John Stemberger, asked a judge to seal the report, and the judge agreed Wednesday. Stemberger has not returned a call requesting information on the matter.

Stemberger, who is also president of the right-wing Florida Family Policy Council, has been throwing around all sorts of wild allegations in recent days regarding Bary's Muslim parents and their supposed ties to a terrorist-infested mosque, and even upped the ante today leveling physical and sexual abuse allegations.

Given the willingness with which Stemberger has been throwing around all sorts of accusations recently, why would he suddenly move to seal the report investigating these claims and keep it from being seen by the press and the public?   

WBDO.com is liveblogging the hearing and reports that Bary's attorneys are fighting hard to keep the report and its findings secret: 

FDLE wants the seal ordered clarified, since both parties have not seen it.

The attorney for Bary's father says "there is a need for information out there" and requests the judge allow the media more access to the family court's documents.

Her attorney argues against it, saying this is a "private matter."

They judge said he did not believe the media has a right to say if a party to this case has a right to sealed documents.

The court denied the Sentinel's request to be notified of proceedings in this matter. He did not curtail the party's right to talk publicly about the case, including the release of documents filed in this case.

Rifqa's attorney, John Stemberger, said he prefers the court see the FDLE report, just completed today, and choose whether to release it to the parties. However, the judge said legal documentation usually works the opposite way with the parties getting it first.

DCF requests each party receive the FDLE report, but the contents not be allowed to be leaked to anyone else.

Judge Dawson ordered the report released to the parties, and has given them 10 days to say why they would want to release it or keep it from others. After that, the documents would be made available under the normal restrictions of juvenile court.

A video tape of FDLE's questioning of Rifqa is part of the report.

Perkins and Vitter Tag-Team The Town Hall

Last week we posted on the toolkit that the Family Research Council was distributing to its members urging them to organize town hall events in opposition to healthcare reform in their local churches.

Well, it looks like this effort has gotten off to a fast start, thanks to Sen. David Vitter, who recently participated in one of these events which was organized by and featured FRC President Tony Perkins:

On his Facebook page, David Vitter just thanked Family Research Council President and former Louisiana legislator Tony Perkins for hosting a Vitter event in a church last night.

"Last night I participated in a community wide town hall in Greenwell Springs to discuss health care reform. Was a great meeting. Special thanks to Tony Perkins and a group of local churches who partnered together to host a panel discussion on health… care, allowing over 800 in attendance to participate in this important topic."

Several videos from the event have now appeared on YouTube and they show the event to be every bit as enlightening as we would expect.

Right off the bat, after Sen. Vitter thanks "Tony," he says that he is particularly delighted to finally participate in a church-based discussion about healthcare and hopes to have several more such faith-based discussions around the state.

Then came questions from the audience about the entire effort just being a power-grab by Obama, as well as questions about abortion and conscience protections.  At no point did Vitter try to correct the audience's misunderstandings and, instead, worked to reinforce them.

Then came this fascinating statement from an audience member in which he claimed that Vladimir Putin had recently written a column for Pravda urging President Obama not to try Marxism because it doesn't work before declaring that he was one of those uninsured that politicians keep talking about, but that he was uninsured by choice.  It seems that the audience member doesn't trust medicine and doesn't see a need for it and that what is really needed is to "get Americans weaned off of the medical care system all together" ... at which point the audience bursts into applause before the speaker goes on the cite a doctor in New Orleans who has been able to cure every cancer patient he has seen in the last twenty years in just three weeks by simply using Vitamin C:

This final video starts out with an attack on Van Jones, which is reinforced by Sen. Vitter who says that all of Obama's czars are unconstitutional. The next question is about the past writings of Obama's science adviser John Holdren, which has been a topic of right-wing outrage for several weeks now. Around the 4:00 mark of this video, Perkins' voice pops up in response to the Holdren question where he decries the "influence of authors who put these crazy ideas out there and are embraced by liberal politicians" and saying that he has "no dobut" that healthcare reform would lead to forced sterilization:

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Susie Madrak posts the latest healthcare claptrap from Gordon Klingenschmitt.
  • After an outcry, Tim Hortons, a Canadian fast food chain, has pulled out of sponsoring the National Organization for Marriage's upcoming "Celebrate Marriage & Family Day."
  • Jodi Jacobson: Despite mounting threats to the clinic--and potentially to the life--of Nebraska Dr. Leroy Carhart, the U.S. Department of Justice has removed the federal marshals earlier charged with protecting him.
  • Bill Berkowitz: The National Endowment for the Arts back in conservative crosshairs.
  • Ed Brayton: Rep. Bart Stupak is proposing to hand over Coast Guard land to Michigan Christian school for free.
  • Good As You catches Mike Heath, Executive Director of the Christian Civic League/Maine Family Policy Council, claiming that marriage equality is the cause of the state's poor weather.

"They Won't Pay for My Surgery, But We're Forced to Pay for Abortions"

Last night, in conjunction with its healthcare webcast, the Family Research Council  announced the release of this new ad in which a couple complains that the man cannot get the life-saving surgery he needs while taxpayer dollars are being used for abortion:

Tonight, during a live webcast joined by more than 49,000 viewers, Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins unveiled a new TV ad which will initially run in five key states including Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and Nebraska. The hard hitting ad lays out two key threats should President Obama's plan become reality - rationing and taxpayer funded abortions. Patients, particularly the elderly, will face denial of vital treatments while at the same time be forced to pay for abortions.

The ad urges viewers to tell Congress to oppose the government takeover of health care. The ad also urges opposition to a health care plan that will deny care to 'our greatest generation' and deny life to 'our future generation.'

FRC Action President Tony Perkins had this to say:

"In a world of health care rationing, the elderly, the handicapped and the frail are the most likely to lose their lives because care was delayed or denied. Under the government-run plans in England and Canada, the countries' sick and elderly aren't getting the care they need. As a result, their system isn't improving lives but prematurely taking them. Here in the United States, President Obama's rationing would mean that you and I could be denied basic care while our tax dollars are used to underwrite a mother choosing to end the life of her unborn child.

"On the other key life-and-death decisions there is an active commitment on the part of Senate Democratic Leadership to allow the rationing of health care. This is what the White House and Congress mean when they say they will cut costs. It means cutting off your access to health care services by creating the legal authority to do so, while stopping any provision becoming law that would prevent rationing.

"FRC Action will continue to work to mobilize a coalition in opposition to the health care plan in its current form which will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate the conscience rights of medical workers, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families."

Earlier in the day, Tony Perkins joined Reps. Joe Pitts, Mike Pence, Chris Smith, Jeff Fortenberry, Trent Franks, Doug Lamborn, as well as Harry Jackson, Wendy Wright, and Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee for a press conference "to discuss how President Obama's health care takeover plan contains hidden abortion mandates."

We were on hand as well and have put together this highlights reel featuring Franks calling abortion the greatest genocide in human history and asserting that this nation's abortion policies came out of slavery, a point that was echoed by Harry Jackson, while Tony Perkins decried healthcare reform as a "bailout" of Planned Parenthood and Wendy Wright asserted that women would be forced by government bureaucrats into having abortions:

Tiller's Killer Asserts He Was An Operation Rescue Donor and Supporter

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece on the late George Tiller, who was gunned down by an anti-abortion zealot while attending church in May.  The piece focused on Tiller's resolution to continue provided badly-needed services to women in the face of relentless protests, lawsuits, threats of violence, and assassination attempts from anti-abortion activists, most notably Operation Rescue:

“His is the only abortion clinic we’ve never been able to close,” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said in an interview.

,,,

There seemed an endless supply of fresh accusations.

“Wichita shoppers unknowingly sprinkled with the burnt ash of fetal remains,” declared one news release, referring to the clinic’s crematorium.

“If I can’t document it, I don’t say it,” Mr. Newman of Operation Rescue said, moments before suggesting without any proof that Dr. Tiller had bought off the local district attorney, Nola T. Foulston, by giving her a baby for adoption. He referred a reporter to a Web site that vaguely asserted that Dr. Tiller “may have delivered the ultimate bribe to Nola Foulston.” A spokeswoman for Ms. Foulston declined to discuss the accusation.

Anti-abortion activists routinely portrayed Dr. Tiller’s campaign contributions as “blood money” that co-opted politicians. “He owned the attorney general’s office,” Mr. Newman said. “He owned the governor’s office. He owned the district attorney’s office.”

The article notes that Operation Rescue and Newman eventually changed tactics and began relying on an "obscure Kansas statute allowing residents to petition for grand jury investigations" and then gathered thousands of signatures to convene two grand juries against him. Both times the juries refused to indict him.

Eventually, Tiller was charged with 19 misdemeanor violations of state's late-term abortion law and was acquitted after the jury deliberated for a mere thirty minutes:

It was an enormous victory, but Dr. Tiller’s supporters feared a backlash. Anti-abortion activists who had attended court sessions were disgusted. Mr. Newman remembered one new face among the regulars in court — Scott Roeder, who told other protesters that the trial was a “sham” and had argued in years past that homicide was justifiable to stop abortions.

Roeder is the man charged with murdering Tiller, which brings us to this article in the Kansas City Star in which Roeder disputes Newman's repeated assertions that he was never a member or supporter of Operation Rescue, insisting that he was, in fact, both:

The Kansas City Star interviewed Roeder three times in recent weeks, including once at the Sedgwick County Jail.

In a phone interview Friday, Roeder said he was upset at the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, who had condemned the killing and said his organization had nothing to do with Roeder.

“He said that I never was a member and I never contributed any money,” Roeder said. “Well, my gosh, I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”

Roeder said he wrote Newman a letter from jail.

“I told him, ‘You better get your story straight because my lawyer said it’d be good for me to show that I was supporting a pro-life organization.’”

For his part, Newman continues to insist that they have no record of Roeder making donations to his organization in their database.

Mat Staver is Your Best Friend in Protecting Religious Liberties...But Only If You Pick the Right Religion

Mat Staver can be a prison inmate's fiercest advocate for religious liberties, so long as the inmate chooses Staver's religion. If not, your religious freedoms are more likely to be called "security threats" by the Liberty Counsel's founder.

In a suit recently filed by the Indiana chapter of the ACLU, Muslim inmates have asked that they be able to practice their faith dutifully, which in turn, means small group prayer five times a day.

Louay Safi, director of leadership development with the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North American, said Muslims try to pray in groups whenever possible.

"Muhammad said there is a much greater reward for people who pray in congregation than those who pray individually," he said.

As of now, the prison only allows the Muslim inmates to worship as a group one hour per week, though inmates are allowed to congregate for card games or to watch television multiple times a day.

To Staver, however, there is no reason the inmates should be allowed to worship in small groups, especially since a group of Muslim inmates congregating is an obvious security threat:

The lawsuit, however, in this particular case says that they are allowed to pray as a group only just one hour a week. The fact is that there is no constitutional right to assembly as a group five times a day.

But I think in the situation with regards to the Muslims, there is clearly a security issue at risk here.

While there may not be an explicit constitutional right to prayer five times a day, there isn't an explicit constitutional right to monthly baptisms at a prison either; that is because they both fall under laws protecting an inmate's right to worship. Staver must be getting forgetful, because not too long ago his Liberty Counsel threatened a New Mexico jail with a lawsuit unless monthly baptisms were allowed for inmates wishing to convert to Christianity.

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the warden and the county explaining that failure to allow the baptisms violated the inmates' constitutional right to free exercise of religion.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented, "With the high rate of recidivism, prisons are in desperate need of better ways to rehabilitate inmates and make them productive citizens. Christian conversion and faith play a key role in transforming broken lives into new beginnings. Rather than throwing up roadblocks to Christian faith and worship, prisons should welcome the positive changes that the Christian conversion brings and the role that baptism plays in the inmates making a public confession of burying the old life and being resurrected to a new life in Jesus Christ."

So, in other words, Staver believes firmly in an inmate's right to religious freedom; the religion just has to be Christianity.

A Steaming Stew of Right Wing Paranoia

I have literally just spent the last two hours trying to make sense of this claim from Focus on the Family:

House Hate-Crimes Bill May Target Pro-Life Servicemen and Women

Senate Republicans have called a hearing Thursday to discuss proposed hate- crimes legislation. The contentious language would elevate some victims of violent crimes over others.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a hate-crimes bill, and is trying to take the concept one step further.

Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings has added language that would ban the recruitment, enlistment or retention of military personnel affiliated with "hate groups." Just a month ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a study listing pro-life advocates as potential national security threats.

Does this make any sense at all?  Focus is claiming that passage of hate crimes legislation will somehow prevent anti-choice individuals from joining the military by stirring together three completely separate issues into one steaming mass of nonsense.

First of all, hate crimes legislation has already passed in the House and contains no such language regarding military recruitment, nor does the version being debated in the Senate.  And considering that the legislation has already passed in the House, there is no way that Rep. Hastings could have "added language" to it.

Secondly, what Hastings has done is add an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that "would prohibit the recruitment, enlistment, or retention of individuals associated or affiliated with groups associated with hate-related violence against groups or persons or the United States government."  The language of the amendment can be found here [PDF] and defines "hate groups" as groups that advocate violence against others based on race, religion, or ethnicity, engage in criminal activity, or advocate armed revolution against the government.

Thirdly, these two things have nothing to do with one another and neither has anything to do with the recent Department of Homeland Security report.

Yet, somehow Focus on the Family's Steve Jordahl has managed to combine all three of these issues into one claim that hate crimes legislation would somehow lead to pro-life members of the military being targeted.

And even though this claim is utterly incoherent and fundamentally nonsensical, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see it get picked up by others in the right-wing echo chamber and quickly establish itself as part of the narrative.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Judicial Watch has released a "Special Report on Judge Sotomayor's Connection to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund."
  • Rick Warren will reportedly be attending Islamic Society of North America's annual convention in Washington, D.C. over the Fourth of July weekend.
  • Carrie Prejean is seeking a book deal.
  • Gary Bauer says that Sarah Palin's feud with David Letterman "proves conservatives can fight pop culture and win."
  • Operation Rescue and other Wichita-based anti-abortion groups say they have received death threats in response to last month's killing of George Tiller.
  • The Family Research Council defends Bill O'Reilly's attacks on Tiller, saying "Something has been lost in the canonization of George Tiller--and that 'something' is the truth ... If Bill O'Reilly was fanning anything, it was the facts. We applaud him for drawing attention to a grisly procedure that even the most hardened pro-choice Democrats in Congress oppose.
  • Finally, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission explains that Tiller's murder was wrong because, even though "Tiller certainly was guilty of murder before God ... lawfully established civil authorities are the rightful ministers of God’s wrath. They have been granted a monopoly by God on the use of the sword, namely capital punishment and physical coercion. "

Is The Right Still "Proud To Be a Right-Wing Extremist"?

Back in April and May I wrote a whole series of posts about how the Right was systematically trumping-up a controversy over the Department of Homeland Security Report, "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [PDF,]" which eventually led the DHS to pull the report.

Now, in light of the murder of Dr. George Tiller and the recent shooting at the Holocaust Museum, we're seeing a variety of pieces claiming that these events validate the report's warnings.  And undoubtedly they do, but the irony here is that this report was never about run-of-the-mill conservatives or right-wing political groups - it was focused on violent, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-government extremists - but it was the conservatives and right-wing political groups who made it about them.

In the very first post I wrote about this issue, I noted that when I first read this report, I ignored it because it was of no use to me and what I do at this blog:

While I am always on the look-out for things demonstrating the extremism of the Religious Right, this report focused solely on violent racist and anti-government groups and since we tend not to cover such groups here, the report had little to offer.

Or so I thought. As it turns out, the report was apparently exactly about the Religious Right groups we follow here … or at least that is what Religious Right groups are insisting, based entirely on a single footnote that says:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

The Right immediately seized on this one footnote in the ten page report, calling it an attack on Christ and turning it into a fund-raising opportunity.  But, as I repeatedly tried to point out, the report wasn't about them and I couldn't understand why they kept insisting that it was, leading to this post asking "Why Is The Right Willingly Conflating Itself With Violent Extremists?" and doing so by intentionally misrepresenting what it said while running ads demanding DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation:

Everything about this ad is either misleading or outright false, especially this claim:

Ignoring the real threats to our security from known Islamic jihad terrorist cells currently training terrorists on American soil, DHS, instead, has declared law-abiding citizens who express their First Amendment Rights as: “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States” and has initiated domestic spying on them.

Here is what the DHS report actually says:

DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.

It's not “law-abiding citizens who express their First Amendment Rights” that DHS says are “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,” its “lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology.”

How completely unhinged has the Right become when they are now paraphrasing “small terrorist cells” to mean “law-abiding citizens” and then using that false characterization in order to play the victim?

The report was not a warning about mainstream conservative political groups or lawful anti-abortion activists or religious organizations - it was a report about violent, radical extremists.  But it was the Right that intentionally conflated the two and now, in the wake of two high-profile violent acts carried out by right-wing extremists, it is the Right that is insisting that they have nothing in common with such people.

And that is exactly the point:  the report was not about them, but they made it about them because they thought they could score some political points and raise money by doing so.

How ridiculous and crass this phony controversy became can pretty much be summed up by these cards, which the Liberty Counsel is still selling on its website, that, in light of the recent attacks, seem to be in pretty poor taste:

Constitution Party Makes a Play For the Values Voters

For years, whenever the Religious Right felt it was being under appreciated by the Republican Party, leaders would start hinting, and even sometimes openly threatening, that the socially conservative grassroots voters would utterly abandon the GOP for a third party during the next election cycle. 

Of course, that never happened and every time an election came around, the Right did what it could to mobilize in support of the Republican Party, despite all its earlier threats and whining. 

The one exception that I am aware of what back in 1996 when James Dobson cast a "protest vote" against the Bob Dole, the GOP's nominee, by voting for  Howard Phillips, the nominee of the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party (now known as the Constitution Party).

Since the Religious Right is always threatening to leave the GOP for a third party , it only makes sense that the Constitution Party would try to capitalize on the current discontent and start trying to woo disaffected "values voters" into its camp:

The fastest-growing third party in America, the Constitution Party, will discuss a nationwide effort to encourage Christians to vote "like their faith depended on it." The CP will host a number of notable values-oriented speakers at its Spring National Committee meeting June 12th and 13th at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel . The party will gather to discuss its unprecedented growth which coincides with widespread voter dissatisfaction with the Republican and Democratic parties. The Constitution Party, the only political party in America which is 100% pro-life is challenging all Believers to put an end to the "lesser of two evils" approach to voting.

"Christians must vote their values and leave the results to God," noted Constitution Party National Committee Chairman Jim Clymer adding, "Our country was founded on Biblical principles, that's why it was so blessed. Without returning to God's law, we cannot expect America to change for the better."

Outside of former Congressman/crackpot Virgil Goode, and professional conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, the event doesn't have any big name draws to speak of. 

Nonetheless, it'll be interesting to see if the Constitution Party's efforts to win over Christian voters will pay off, especially in light of the on-going tension between the GOP and its right-wing base.

The Same Hate Crimes Lies, From a New Source

Until I saw this article in WorldNetDaily, I was completely unaware of the Reclaiming Oklahoma For Christ:

[Pastor Paul Blair of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla.] is founder of a group called Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, an outreach to pastors that encourages church leaders  to take a stand against the spread of immorality in American culture. He is urging pastors across the nation to stop being silent and muster the courage to speak out against efforts to criminalize Christianity. He said church leaders have abandoned the prophetic call and have chosen instead to be CEOs of competitive church businesses rather than proclaiming "faith in Christ alone and repentance from sin."

"Pastors used to speak strongly about issues – like when Billy Sunday led a crusade, and the next thing you know, liquor was outlawed. So they made a difference," he said. "The year 1954 is when pastors began to grow timid because, all of the sudden, they had this misguided notion that they might lose their tax exemption if they made too much noise."

Shortly after ministers grew silent, prayer and Bible reading were taken out of schools. The sexual revolution immediately followed, along with Roe v. Wade. Now, he said, attacks on Christian liberty and morality have become more brazen and coordinated than ever – with widespread movements to legalize homosexual marriage, the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to profile Christians as "potential terrorists" and strategies to silence pastors through hate crimes legislation.

...

Blair is stepping up the effort by calling on "patriot pastors" to lead their congregations in three areas: 1) evangelizing and leading people to Christ to change the culture 2) educating people about the truth of America's Christian heritage and real threats like the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 3) contacting elected representatives by writing letters and participating in petition drives.

His church is planning a special Memorial Day weekend sermon where he will bring in a 150-foot crane to fly the American flag as he warns his congregation of attacks on freedom.

"We absolutely will be addressing the fact that freedom isn't free," he said. "We'll talk about the great sacrifice that was paid for the liberty we enjoy and how there are attacks on that liberty not just abroad, but here at home."

Accompanying this article was this ten minute video in which Blair runs through the litany of right-wing lies about hate crimes legislation:

While watching it, my first thought was “this sounds an awful lot like the nonsense Janet Porter has been peddling” which, as it turns out, makes sense because Blair’s organization has ties to Porter, having signed on to her recent effort to pressure Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to resign.

It made even more sense when I saw that she was going to be a featured speaker at the upcoming Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ Conference:        

The 2009 conference will be held on July 24 and 25 at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond.

Scheduled speakers include Peter LaBarbera from Americans for Truth, Dr. John Morris from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), LTG (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, one of the original members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force, and Faith2Action President Janet (Folger) Porter.

Boykin, you may recall, made news a few years back when he declared that we were at war with Islam and that our “spiritual enemy ... will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus” but that we would eventually win because our God is real while they worshiped an idol.  Since leaving the military, he’s hooked-up with fringe Religious Right figures like Rick Scarborough and now, apparently, Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ.

In fact, ROC seems to have some pretty significant ties to a variety of second and third-tier right-wing leaders.  According to its website, its 2008 conference featured the likes of David Barton, Bill Federer, and Mat Staver.  The organization also participated in the “One Day Crusade” events put on by Scarborough and Gordon Klingenschmitt before the election last year and was deeply involved in rallying support for Oklahoma legislator Sally Kern, the self-proclaimed “warrior for Judeo-Christian values” who declared that the “homosexual agenda” was “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.”

It seems that while we were busy not paying any attention this organization, they were busy building relationships with a variety of more high-profile right-wing leaders and organizations to whom we do pay attention.  And since they seem to be treating ROC as a legitimate ally, I guess we’re going to have to start trying to pay a bit more attention to what they are up to.

The Ever-Underappreciated Right Continues to Grumble

To say that the Republican Party is having a bit of trouble at the moment figuring out just what it stands for and what sort of message it needs to help it start winning elections would be a bit of an understatement.

The latest controversy stems from the fact that various Religious Right leaders are blasting the National Council for a New America for its lack of focus on social issues at it seeks to lay out the GOP’s agenda for moving the party forward.  

Though Rep. Eric Cantor has been working to smooth over the rift, David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics tracked down several Religious Right leaders who are obviously growing increasingly fed-up with being marginalized and blamed for every defeat that befalls the GOP: 

There is a brooding sense within top social conservative circles that they have become the revolving scapegoat of the Republican Party. Many of the longtime leaders of the Christian right, from Richard Land to Tony Perkins to Gary Bauer, expressed resentment in extended interviews with a singular theme: that the most loyal GOP bloc has been so quickly thrown under many critics' bus.

"There are powerful interest groups in the party and in the country that are trying to scapegoat social conservatives," Land said, who has long served as a bridge between Southern Baptists' political concerns and GOP leadership. "It's people who have no problem ignoring facts."

"That's the pattern that has emerged over the last couple of decades," said Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council. "People want to find an easy excuse for the GOP's failures and they try to point to the social conservative issues and by extension social conservatives."

The Religious Right realizes that it does not control the Republican Party, pointing to the fact that John McCain was not their top choice in the 2008 primaries as evidence, with Gary Bauer admitting that the “social conservatives are not the gatekeeper of the Republican party,” no matter how much they sometimes act as if they are.

But they still expect their role in the party to be recognized and respected and, if they don’t start feeling appreciated says Land, the GOP might just wake up one day to find that they have all left, declaring "Republicans delude themselves to thinking that social conservatives will have no where else to go."

Of course, these sorts of threats happen every few years and never amount to anything because, as Kuhn points out, “a divorce between the Christian right and the GOP would leave Republicans in ruin.”  

And that is why Bauer says he doesn’t see it happening this time either because, come election time, both the party and the Religious Right base will realize that their fates are intricately linked: "I'm not concerned that they could actually be that stupid. There are whole areas of the country where the only reason the Republicans are competitive are because of values and social issues."

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Threats Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 02/17/2011, 11:17am
The Texas State Board of Education’s right-wing spin on U.S. history has earned the state a “D” from a conservative education think tank. Mary Tuma of the Texas Independent notes that the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a “national conservative group calls for a ‘radical’ overhaul of U.S. history standards at K-12 public schools nationwide,” but even the self-declared “right-of-center” group couldn’t deny the drastic manipulation of the education curriculum by the far-right SBOE. The new education standards, outlined in the Right Wing... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 2:48pm
As we have mentioned several times before, John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council, was an early and central player in the Rifqa Bary saga when she turned up in Florida in 2009.  His actions during that case have now resulted in misconduct complaint being filed against him by the Florida Bar as well as a $10 million defamation lawsuit from the attorney who represented Bary's parents. As such, Stemberger has set up a legal defense fund to cover his mounting legal expenses that has the support of Jerry Bokin, Newt Gingrich, Tony Perkins, Lou Engle and David Barton.  And... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/16/2011, 2:48pm
As we have mentioned several times before, John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council, was an early and central player in the Rifqa Bary saga when she turned up in Florida in 2009.  His actions during that case have now resulted in misconduct complaint being filed against him by the Florida Bar as well as a $10 million defamation lawsuit from the attorney who represented Bary's parents. As such, Stemberger has set up a legal defense fund to cover his mounting legal expenses that has the support of Jerry Bokin, Newt Gingrich, Tony Perkins, Lou Engle and David Barton.  And... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 11:43am
As we have noted several times in recent weeks, John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, is facing the possibility of being disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court for misconduct during the Rifqa Bary saga as well as a $10 million lawsuit from the lawyer who represented Bary's Muslim parents. Stemberger insists that the wild allegations he threw around when he was representing Bary in Florida are protected by the First Amendment and that the lawsuit and misconduct complaint are merely an "attempt to squelch any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam and its... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 11:43am
As we have noted several times in recent weeks, John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, is facing the possibility of being disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court for misconduct during the Rifqa Bary saga as well as a $10 million lawsuit from the lawyer who represented Bary's Muslim parents. Stemberger insists that the wild allegations he threw around when he was representing Bary in Florida are protected by the First Amendment and that the lawsuit and misconduct complaint are merely an "attempt to squelch any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam and its... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 01/12/2011, 12:46pm
While Sarah Palin tries to make herself out as the real victim of the shootings in Arizona, even going so far as to compare herself to Jewish victims of “blood libels,” the right-wing echo-chamber has been busy spinning the shootings in Tucson. After Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips called Jared Lee Loughner “a liberal lunatic,” conservatives eagerly promoted his claims. NewsMax claimed that Loughner has links to “left-wing politics” since his favorite books include “‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler’s... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 01/07/2011, 10:24am
Last February the Media Research Center’s director of media analysis Tim Graham defended the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) from a charge that the event was “once a venue for the radical fringe.” Today, the Media Research Center joined other groups in boycotting the conference because it isn’t conservative enough. While the Heritage Foundation announced on Wednesday that it would be boycotting CPAC, the Media Research Center, led by notable right-wing activist Brent Bozell, is both the latest and one of the... MORE