Dobson Won’t Support a Mormon or Launch His Own Campaign

Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery gave a wide ranging interview to The Denver Post's PoliticsWest where, among other things, he dismissed the notion that the Religious Right was on the verge of a meltdown:

It’s typical of what we see during election cycles. I remember as far back as 1988 when Pat Robertson ran for president and failed. There were wide predictions of a crackup; of the Moral Majority back then, of evangelicals. Then, of course, the Christian Coalition immediately rose up and became very strong. When that organization faded, there were another spate of stories about the crackup of evangelical Christians as an influence in the public square …  [O]bviously, there was a big stick swung by social conservatives in the 2004 election. The fact that George Bush won in Ohio, that very key state, because a lot of people turned out for the marriage amendment in that particular state, was deemed to be significant. Now, we’re into another cycle and the normal predictions of the crackup of evangelicalism is occurring. One of the phenomenon that gives rise to that, of course, is the fact that there is no single conservative candidate who has enough marbles for everybody in the conservative movement to want to play with. Everybody’s lacking in something. Partially, this is just the way it is. People will have to figure it out, who to support. So there’s some unsettledness. But I’d hardly call that a crack-up.

Minnery, like FRC’s Tony Perkins, also dismissed Giuliani’s pledge to nominate only “strict constructionist” judges as little more than a “politician’s promise,” and voiced his concerns about Giuliani’s past and personal life:   

His being married three times. Even the fact that he has shown up on Saturday Night Live in drag. I just cringe at the thought of the TV commercials that will be forthcoming from independent leftist organizations, 527s, if Giuliani becomes the nominee. I think very few people know that he tromped across the stage in drag. I think that that might be funny in New York. That might be funny for the Saturday Night Live audience. But for middle America, I do not think that will be funny … He has two male gay friends that he moved in with after his second divorce. And that was a messy affair. And just knowing how degrading politics is, I believe that there’ll be some kind of a PAC or 527 that will engineer a lot of negative advertising out of those events, designed specifically to keep conservative Christian people from pulling the lever for him.

But Minnery doesn’t seem to think this will be enough to keep committed right-wing voters at home on Election Day, saying that “a lot of people on our side would probably swallow hard and vote for the more conservative of the two major party candidates.” As for the possibility that James Dobson might end up endorsing Mitt Romney, Minnery called it “doubtful,” citing “the tremendous difference in theological views.”

But just because Dobson isn’t happy with any of the current GOP candidates doesn’t mean he has any plans to launch his own presidential campaign:

[Dobson] likes to be in charge … He’s a leader of an organization here. He’s been in charge of it and developed it. A president is in charge of one-third of the federal government and has to deal with so many different people. I think it would be a very frustrating job for someone, who’s an organization leader, to deal with. Besides, Dr. Dobson represents evangelical Christians. I don’t think that constituency is enough to elect somebody president, although it’s an important constituency within one of the two major parties.

The other problem is that there would be too many death threats against him; his wife would say, “'Jim, if you get into that, I’ll kill you.'”

Besides that, he’s 71 years old. And, in addition to that, he doesn’t want to do it.

For that, we can all be thankful. 

Howard Beale in the White House

Fake news host Stephen Colbert couldn’t get his presidential campaign off the ground. Will real news host Lou Dobbs make the cut? In an online commentary last week, the populist CNN host, who has come to be the television voice of the anti-immigrant movement, wrote:

I believe that independent Americans will demand a far better choice than any of the candidates now seeking their party's nomination. I believe next November's surprise will be the election of a man or woman of great character, vision and accomplishment, a candidate who has not yet entered the race.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, Dobbs is talking about himself as that candidate, on a third- or even fourth-party ticket. (Via Ross Douthat.)

Making a Bad Book Worse

When WorldNetDaily decides to write about a book by right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton, you just know the results are not going to be pretty – or accurate:  

KKK's 1st targets were Republicans: Dems credited with starting group that attacked both blacks and whites

The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats.

An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

The documentation has been assembled by David Barton of Wallbuilders and published in his book "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White," which reveals that not only did the Democrats work hand-in-glove with the Ku Klux Klan for generations, they started the KKK and endorsed its mayhem.

"Of all forms of violent intimidation, lynchings were by far the most effective," Barton said in his book. "Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws and their platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrats successfully blocked those bills and their platforms never did condemn lynchings."

And on and on is goes about how “the Klan was established by Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party” until Barton finally gets around to accusing the Democrats of hiding from their own history:

"Why would Democrats skip over their own history from 1848 to 1900?" Barton asked. "Perhaps because it's not the kind of civil rights history they want to talk about – perhaps because it is not the kind of civil rights history they want to have on their website."

That is a good question - almost as good as the question we raised in our report on Barton asking why his “history” of the Democratic Party’s animosity toward African Americans suddenly stops after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and makes absolutely no mention of the political transformation that overtook the country in its wake and the rise of the Republican Party’s “Southern Strategy”:

Look Who’s Coming to Dobson’s Dinner

Cloistered away in a not-so-secret meeting during the Council for National Policy conference in Utah last month, a who’s who of right-wing leaders, led by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, emerged to issue a not-so-subtle message to the Republican Party:  if frontrunner Rudy Giuliani gets the nomination, we’re gone.  The threat alone was enough to prompt Giuliani to rethink his plans and suddenly decide to appear at this weekend’s “Values Voter Summit,” convened by Dobson’s allies at the Family Research Council.

With just over a year to go before the next presidential election, the Republican Party faithful are in some disarray, with wails of discontent over the field of primary contenders deemed insufficiently committed to advancing the “social conservative” agenda, or insufficiently willing to talk about their faith, or insufficiently likely to make it through the primaries.  While the campaigns of Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee have managed to pick off a few leaders and activists here and there, the only thing keeping the Right even somewhat unified at this point is Rudy Giuliani’s lack of anti-gay, anti-choice credentials and the threat of what his candidacy would mean for their influence within the party.  

The resolution drafted in Salt Lake City says that if “the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third-party candidate” – but who exactly is “the Republican Party”?  It’s not as if RNC strategists pick the nominee.  That’s up to the voters who participate in GOP primaries and caucuses.

So in essence, the Right is not so much threatening “the Republican Party” as it is Republican Party voters and trying to blackmail them by saying that if they think Giuliani, as his campaign likes to point out, is “the only Republican candidate that can beat” Hillary Clinton, they had better think again -- because he can’t do that if anywhere from a quarter to a half of their activists refuse to vote for him.     

FRC's Perkins Suggests Romney Better Than Huckabee on Religious-Right Issues

In a press call this morning, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins downplayed recent talk about religious-right leaders threatening to bolt the GOP for a third-party presidential candidate. Perkins, promoting FRC’s Values Voter Summit in Washington next weekend, said he was “optimistic” that the GOP field would “solidify” and a candidate acceptable to the Right would emerge out of the conference’s straw poll.

Rudy Giuliani’s decision to participate in the FRC event threatens to deflate this optimism, however. If Giuliani gets significant support from among the FRC members participating in the straw poll—as he has from among the national constituency these leaders claims to represent—then the threats by James Dobson and others to spoil the election could fall flat. “I’m not saying he won’t get some social conservative support,” cautioned Perkins, “but some social conservative support is not enough to win.” Despite Perkins’ claim that Giuliani will receive a “cordial” reception, we can expect many speakers—not just other candidates—to directly or indirectly attack, in Perkins’ phrase, “the pro-abortion rights candidate.”

And while some right-wing activists are hoping that the Religious Right will coalesce around one of their second-tier favorites—such as Mike Huckabee—Perkins seemed to downplay that option, panning them as unacceptable to economic- and foreign policy-oriented Republicans. In fact, Perkins spoke glowingly of Mitt Romney, saying that “in my opinion, [he’s] the strongest on these core social issues”—and not only that, but his “conversion” on wedge issues has been “genuine.” In fact, Perkins said Romney is stronger than Huckabee and the others on such issues.

During the campaign cycle, he has made these issues more front-and-center in his message than I think other candidates who are social conservatives have, I mean that have a track record of social conservatism. I think he has staked out ground on these issues so much so that he would have a very difficult time ever backing away from them; he would lose all credibility. He has really brought emphasis to these issues. And I do think, yes, more than Mike Huckabee and some of the others.

Meanwhile, Alan Keyes can’t get no respect. Despite his wide-open schedule, he’s not on the list of speakers at the Values Voter Summit; nevertheless, FRC’s Charmaine Yoest declared that “we have all of the major GOP candidates.”

Calling Dobson’s Bluff

For months now, right-wing leaders and organizations have been in disarray as they struggle to maintain and exert their influence within the Republican Party while facing a primary campaign dominated by candidates who don’t excite them. 

While John McCain has been persona non grata ever since he attacked Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” during his last presidential run, Mitt Romney has been blasted by some on the Right for everything from flip-flopping on issues to ties to pornography to his Mormon faith while Fred Thompson’s only major accomplishment since entering the race has been to quickly lose his position as the Right’s political savior, failing to win over the Arlington Group and being written off entirely by James Dobson (though some, like Richard Land, remain avid Thompson boosters).

It seems that, as of now, the only thing the leaders of the Religious Right seem able to agree on is that they don’t like, and will not support, Rudy Giuliani:

A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.

The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives. James Clymer, the chairman of the U.S. Constitution Party, was also present at the meeting, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

"The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party," said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. "Dobson came in just for this meeting," the person said.

Of course, this is not the first time Dobson has made this sort of threat:

Evolution Teachers Threatened at Colorado University

In his latest column, Chuck Norris launches into a familiar gripe of the Right, warning parents that college campuses today into hotbeds of “liberal bias” and “indoctrination.” One example employed by the Right is the recent failure of an Iowa State professor to be granted tenure, supposedly due to his advocacy of “Intelligent Design” creationism. (That’s leaving aside a more obvious explanation: Perhaps if he spent more time on astronomy than creationism, he would have been able to bring in more outside grant money.)

It seems at least one creationist is fighting back – and apparently threatening to use Chuck Norris methods.

An anti-evolution activist who has been targeting biology professors at the University of Colorado at Boulder is implicated in distributing threatening letters two weeks ago, calling teachers of evolution “child molesters” and “terrorists” and repeating the line “every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society”:

Last weekend more than a dozen envelopes bearing the image of skull and crossbones and containing letters threatening the lives of CU-Boulder evolutionary biology professors were slipped under the doors of CU-Boulder buildings. …

“EBIO (evolutionary biology) professors are terrorists against America and … intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students … the EBIO department not only blasphemes God, who is invisible, but it blasphemes His Only Begotten Son and our Messiah, Jesus Christ, which is more unforgivable … for all these reason all God-fearing and Truth-loving persons must say, They must go!”

The evolution blog Panda’s Thumb has more information, including excerpts from the letters.

FRC Takes on Giuliani

Tony Perkins and Chuck Donovan - president and executive vice president, respectively, of the Family Research Council – took to the pages of the Politico today to state in no-uncertain terms that the prospect of a Rudy Giuliani victory in the GOP presidential primary is completely unacceptable to the Right:  

Now comes Mayor Giuliani, telling us that the moral core [opposition to abortion] of his party is no big deal after all. On this, Rudy is wrong. He is sparking a fight whose moral seriousness appears, so far, to be lost on many of his allies. The Wall Street Journal, for example, has editorialized that advocates for life are raising questions about Rudy because we want to be on television. Excuse me, but if we really wanted headlines and flashbulbs, we would sacrifice our core convictions and hug Rudy at noon in Times Square.

Make no mistake, however; the aim of social conservatives is not to strew the path of the Republican Party with roses. We are not waiting in the winner's circle with a garland of roses for whoever becomes the GOP nominee. Social conservatives have entered the political fray with abiding beliefs about mediating institutions like church and family that both coincide with and make smaller government conservatism possible. Their first allegiance is to those beliefs, however, and not to a party label.

It is odd that Perkins and Donovan would warn they and their right-wing activists and allies are not beholden to a “party label,” considering that their recent, and upcoming, activities certainly suggest otherwise.

For good measure, they also trot out their favorite bogus claim that all Republican electoral losses can in one way or another be attributed to the fact that the GOP abandoned its right-wing base: 

Today, the Republican Party is in trouble with the body politic not because it has been too "pro-life," too committed to budget restraint or too devoted to ethics in government. The GOP is struggling today because voters have come to believe that it "grew in office." The GOP "grew" comfortable with close proximity to the spending power, piling up earmarks to suit members' personal interests. The GOP "grew" addicted to the perks of office, soliciting and dispensing favors to lobbyists bankrolled by gambling interests. The GOP "grew" comfortable with the homosexual subculture, proclaiming devotion to the family but protecting then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) from public exposure of his misconduct.

FRC’s ire is directed not only at Giuliani, but also his supporters who have been more or less telling right-wing activists to put a sock in it when it comes to concerns about the candidate’s position on choice. But FRC clearly has no intention of staying silent, going so far as to proclaim that, should he win the GOP primary, Giuliani “will bury his party's future hopes” by ultimately destroying the heretofore mutually beneficial political relationship between the Republican Party and its right-wing base.

The Next Jerry Falwell?

The Kansas City Star has recently run a series of articles profiling Jerry Johnston, pastor of the First Family megachurch in Overland Park, Kansas, who apparently sees himself as the next Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson:

Today, Johnston has gained national prominence through his tough talk on homosexuality, abortion and what he views as wimpy pastors who won’t take strong stands on social issues. His positions have earned him appearances on “The Today Show” and “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Those positions have prompted Johnston to use volunteer bodyguards for personal protection, as well as for church security.

Indeed, Johnston envisions himself becoming one of America’s foremost religious leaders.

“Guess what?” he asked his congregation after rattling off the names of evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in a 2005 sermon. “Those men are getting old. Really old.

“See, God’s calling us to step up to the plate. And there are national Christian leaders all over this nation that are looking to First Family Church to do the job.”

Over the past couple of years, Johnston has become increasingly active politically, especially in opposition to marriage equality, appearing alongside right-wing starts such as Roy Moore and Jerry Fallwell, and being featured on NPR, “Nightline,” “Scarborough Country,” and “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he told host Bill O’Reilly:

[P]astors are called of God to teach his word. And when we look at the same-sex initiative in this country, it is a shame that pastors across this country have not done a more effective job defining what the family is as God intended.

And because of the silence in the pulpit, we are in the mess we're in right now. When we saw this defeated in the Kansas House, I was shocked. I mean, we're in the land of Dorothy and Toto, and we can't even get a marriage amendment initiative on the ballot to vote on.

And so, we have met with hundreds of pastors. And we've said, we need to teach our people. We need to have surveillance of elected officials, how they're voting. And we need to get those three out of four evangelicals that did not vote in the last election, voting so that we can continue to see America endure under God's blessing.

Considering that Johnston sees himself as heir to the Robertson/Fallwell political empire, the series run by the Kansas City Star probably has been particularly helpful:

Reports of Robertson's Marginalization Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

“I talk to a lot of evangelicals and the only person who takes Pat Robertson seriously is Tim Russert.” So claimed Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in a speech at a church in Westchester County, New York last week. Such pointed disavowals of Robertson by other religious-right leaders have occasionally followed the televangelists more absurd and incendiary comments – such as when he declared that Ariel Sharon’s debilitating stroke was God’s punishment for “dividing God’s land” and called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – so you might think that Cromartie was responding to recent allegations that Robertson threatened a bodybuilder involved in lawsuit over Robertson’s “Age-Defying Shake,” or perhaps to Robertson’s warning today about Muslim politicians “taking over” the U.S. But Cromartie was trying to make the point that the televangelist, sometimes referred to as a GOP “kingmaker,” is increasingly marginalized.

But it’s hard to believe that. According to its web site, Robertson’s “700 Club” is available “in 95 percent of the television markets across the United States, the program is carried on ABC Family Channel cable network, FamilyNet, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and numerous U.S. television stations and is seen daily by approximately one million viewers.” His Christian Broadcasting Network garnered $166 million in donations from March 2005 to March 2006, and he is the second most well known religious figure in America.

If one needs more evidence of Robertson’s continued influence, especially on U.S. politics, just look at the Republican presidential candidates lining up to curry his favor. Sam Brownback and now John McCain have taken to the CBN airwaves to convince Robertson’s viewers of their conservative credentials. And both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are scheduled to speak at Robertson’s Regent University.

As John Green of the Pew Forum said, figures like Robertson “are moving off the stage, but they're by no means inconsequential. … They still have good reputations, particularly with evangelicals who are politically active. There are candidates who want to be seen with these people." As long as that’s true, it’s too early to declare Pat Robertson a political has-been.

God, Threats, Taxes, and Pat Robertson

Remember about a month ago when it was reported that Pat Robertson had threatened to kill Phillip Busch, the man who is suing him over his “Age-Defying Shake”? Well, Robertson now denies threatening him, though he does admit that he warned Busch that God was going to punish him

The evangelist's remarks were made off the record, before a court reporter and videographer began recording the proceedings. But a transcript of the deposition includes a discussion about what he said.

Busch, acting as his own attorney, asked to speak with U.S. Magistrate Judge James Bradberry "concerning Mr. Robertson's comments when he came in here, his off-the-record comments to me, which I perceive to be a threat against my life."

Robertson: "It's not a federal crime to invoke God's power, and that's all I was doing.... There was no threat against your life, and I certainly didn't mention your family.... You are delusional."

Busch: "What, exactly, did you say?"

Robertson: "I said he's gonna take your strength away..."

Busch: "He's gonna take my strength away?"

Robertson: "... that you are so proud of."

While this is clearly the most sensational aspect of the on-going lawsuit, it is the least of Robertson’s worries at the moment.

The Right Gears Up for 2008

The next presidential election is still more than twenty months away, but the Right is not wasting any time in preparing to mobilize its activists to turn out in force.  

For instance, the Family Research Council just announced that it will be hosting its second “Values Voter Summit” in October, which they declare is “guaranteed to change the debate in 2008.”

It appears as if Rick Scarborough and Alan Keyes are gearing up for the election as well, announcing their new “Seventy Weeks to Renew America” project:

On July 4, 2007, Dr. Alan Keyes and I will launch a major effort to enlist 100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women - who will pray for national renewal and who will vote their Christian values on election day 2008.

There are 70 weeks from July 4, 2007 until the last Wednesday before the national elections of 2008. We will be in an average of one city each week for those 70 weeks, calling the church to be the church.

Normally, the fact that the Right is this motivated this early would be a good sign for GOP presidential hopefuls, but not this time around since these activists are not particularly enthused about any of the current frontrunners. As Rick Scarborough wrote recently (emphasis in original): 

Can the Republican Party continue to claim to be the Party of Values in light of the current crop of front-runners? I think not.

We must pray and work toward securing a candidate that we can not only vote for, but get excited about when we go to the polls.

And we should be ready to go outside the Republican Party if it refuses to give us such a candidate. Christians must always remember that we are followers of Christ, not pawns of a party which often wants to dance with us before the election but then ditches us right after the final vote count.

The Right is firmly convinced that they lost the last election because Republicans were not committed enough to pushing their agenda - despite the fact that it is completely untrue – and doing all they can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, even going so far as to threaten to bolt the party. 

It’ll never happen, of course, but it will undoubtedly throw GOP candidates’ frantic courtship of the Right into overdrive.

Santorum Joins Ethics and Public Policy Center

After losing his Senate seat, Rick Santorum has quickly rebounded and joined the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center where he will head up a program called – literally – America’s Enemies.

The EPPC press release says:

"As a United States Senator, Rick Santorum was a champion of efforts to counter the threat of radical Islamic fascism, to protect victims of religious persecution, and to promote democracy and religious liberty around the world," said EPPC President Ed Whelan.  "We are honored that he is joining EPPC to continue his important and courageous work on these matters."

"In these perilous and uncertain times, I believe it is critical that we define the threats that confront America," said Mr. Santorum.  "Without a clear definition and precise understanding of our enemies we cannot fight effectively and our own citizens become divided.  It is my hope that the America's Enemies program at EPPC will help the American people -- including our leaders -- understand and communicate with clarity, honesty, and consistency the enemies we face and the complex and enormous threat that they pose to our lives and the freedoms we all enjoy."

According to an article in The National Review, Santorum has big plans for his new program:

“It’s a stark name,” says Santorum. “But we wanted to be candid about the fact that America really does have enemies and to point out that the nature of these enemies is much more complex than what people realize. It’s not just Islamic fascism, but also Venezuela, North Korea, and, increasingly in my opinion, Russia.”

How will a former senator adjust to life at a think tank? “This is a very impressive group of folks who share my worldview more than any other group in town,” says Santorum. “We’re going to have a lot of synergy. I know that I’m not the foremost scholar in the world, but I can offer a lot of ideas and help put together a communications strategy to describe the threats we face. Communication is a big problem, as the results of the elections in November show.”

Santorum plans to organize lectures and conferences, write articles, and work on a book. (His book agent is Kathy Lubbers, who is Newt Gingrich’s daughter.) “We expect to be very, very active,” he says. One of his focal points will be religious liberty and how people of faith might confront radical Islam.

Now that he is out of the Senate, it was nice of the EPPC to give Santorum a platform from which he can continue his work defending the country against its terrorist enemies by making bizarre comparisons to “Lord of the Rings.”

On a positive note, at least Santorum’s home in Virginia has now become a convenience instead of a political liability.  

Right Wing Bickers over Voter Turnout

Anticipating a Republican loss in November, right-wing activists are already trying to establish who to blame. James Dobson, who cast aside his stated disillusionment with the GOP to commit to working to maintain its majority, has suggested that liberals or the liberal media are using bad news to “suppress” the turnout of those he calls “values voters,” but his comrade Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is blaming conservative media.

Never Under-Estimate Dobson’s Reach

Focus on the Family’s James Dobson is perhaps the most influential right-wing leader in America today and his power goes well beyond purely domestic issues such as generating voter turn-out for Republicans or pushing for the confirmation of judges – as the Boston Globe reports, it reaches all the way into United States Agency for International Development, and policy decisions that affect health care for millions across the globe.

The administration had hoped to avoid fights with religious conservatives by putting people in charge of USAID with strong faith-based ties: administrator Andrew Natsios and global health director Dr. Anne Peterson.

Natsios is a former Massachusetts legislator who once supervised the Big Dig and has served as vice president of World Vision, the largest evangelical recipient of USAID grants. Peterson, a physician, is an evangelical Christian and former Virginia state health commissioner who has also worked with Christian groups in Africa.

Peterson said in an interview that she assumed she would be embraced by religious conservatives.

She was wrong: Dobson's group singled her out for a series of attacks, since her global health division oversaw AIDS policy.

In September 2004, Peterson boarded a plane for Colorado on a secret and sensitive mission: to try to prevent an all-out assault by Dobson, who had vowed to use his clout with Congress to pressure USAID into giving more funds to faith-based groups.

Peterson spent the day at the Colorado Springs headquarters of Focus on the Family, culminating in a short, terse audience with Dobson himself.

``Where do you stand on condoms?" Dobson asked, according to Peterson.

Peterson replied that, as a physician, she was convinced condoms played an important role in preventing AIDS, along with abstinence and faithfulness. Dobson was displeased, she said.

``It was very clear that I did not budge him on the condom issue," Peterson said. Focus on the Family, meanwhile, prepared a briefing that was critical of Peterson, quoting her as saying that the Bush administration had doubled condom availability in developing nations.

Within months, Peterson had resigned for personal reasons, deeply bruised by the attacks.

Peterson was replaced as head of global health by a well-known conservative evangelical leader, Kent Hill. Unlike Peterson, he had no medical degree and no prior experience in public health.

A Lesson For the Children

At least a few supporters of Intelligent Design Creationism have taken it upon themselves to teach students another kind of lesson: if at first you don’t succeed, threaten violence. The AP reports that Pennsylvania U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III received, in addition to verbal attacks from far right commentators, at least a few death threats which led to a week of protection by federal marshals after Jones ruled last year against a plan by the Dover School Board to require the teaching of Intelligent Design Creationism in the district’s schools.
“And if you would have told me when I got on the bench four years ago that I would have death threats in a case like this as opposed to, for example, a crack cocaine case where I mete out a heavy sentence, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. “But I did. And that's a sad statement.”
Dover is the town whose residents were warned by Pat Robertson not to pray to God if they suffered a catastrophe because voting the pro-creationism members off the school board meant citizens were kicking God out of town. PFAWF has already documented that the Creationism movement has tried a variety of tactics to force religion into public science classrooms over the years. And attacking judges as dangerous and un-American has become frighteningly commonplace. But death threats over a school science curriculum is a potent reminder that extremism is alive and well in 21st century America.

Terrorism and Abortion and Judges, Oh My!

On today’s edition of “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson lamented that the Republicans are facing very real difficulties in getting their right-wing base motivated for the upcoming elections, because unlike previous elections, the Right can’t just focus on “judges, judges, judges, judges” this time around and is therefore growing “dispirited” by things like the war in Iraq and growing deficits. [View the video highlight: Broadband or Dial-Up.] 

Given that “judges, judges, judges, judges” has been the primary mobilization strategy for the GOP and the Right for years, it is not surprising that judicial activists such as Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society are desperately trying to tie every issue to judges in any way they can, leading him to send out a memo to “Catholic leaders” ostensibly about national security but couched entirely in not-so-subtle “we need pro-life judges” rhetoric

Catholics, like other segments of the population, are not of one mind about the war in Iraq (I happen to be supportive, but know others in our Catholic communities who are not). But, there is one thing that all of us can agree upon respecting the broader war on terror: there is real value to efforts that identify and frustrate domestic threats and thereby prevent the loss of innocent life. No one can reasonably dispute, for example, that the resources our government expends to collect intelligence and data in order to break up a terror plot is premised on the individual dignity and worth of every human person. Counter-terrorism efforts protect all of us, regardless of our race, sex, or economic standing.

Today, when the Senate approved the confirmation of another Federal appeals judge, we were reminded of how important the judges battle is to a war on terror effort that successfully protects innocent human life.

We need to remind our friends and family, as they reflect upon the stakes in the upcoming Congressional elections, that we need a Senate that understands the way in which counter-terrorism can advance human dignity, and that understands the importance of confirming judges who won't frustrate those efforts at protecting innocent human life because of their own political views about the war on terror.

Terrorism, abortion, and judges – Leo managed to tie all three issues together in this one memo.  If he had tried a little harder, he probably could have crammed in some ominous warning about homosexuality and hit for the right-wing cycle.  

Just How Angry Can They Be?

There has been a lot of talk in the media in recent months about that the idea that the Right is angry with President Bush and the Republicans and that this anger might hurt the party in November.  

For instance, there is this piece today from McClatchy Newspapers making just this sort of prediction regarding the FDA’s recent decision to make the “morning after pill” available over the counter  - something the Right is none-too-happy about

Now the Family Research Council and other allies among social conservatives and in Congress are weighing a lawsuit to challenge the FDA's decision. News of such a confrontation just before this fall's elections could aggravate the White House's hopes of energizing conservatives to vote.

"This is not an issue that grabs people around the dinner table. It doesn't grab people like the war or taxes, or even marriage or the abortion decision in South Dakota," [Family Research Council’s Tom] McClusky said.

"But people are going to wonder why all these pro-life, pro-family groups are suing this administration."

Sitting at their kitchen tables in districts with close House races or states with close Senate races, some social conservatives could react with anger and not vote at all. Or they might remain sufficiently afraid of the Democrats to vote but too apathetic to help get anyone else to vote.

Just how much danger does this supposed right-wing rage really pose to the GOP?  Well, judge for yourself

Focus on the Family Action today announced a Stand for the Family rally to be held this fall in Nashville, Tenn. The event is designed to motivate and inform voters about the importance of voting their values in November.

"It's clear that people of faith must continue to go to the polls and vote their values," said James C. Dobson, Ph.D., chairman of Focus Action. "Our calling to be good citizens did not end in 2004 -– it requires us to be informed, diligent voters in each election.

"The issues at stake in this election demand our careful attention and involvement. The men and women elected to office will be entrusted with decisions that most affect America's families – protecting traditional marriage and the sanctity of life, as well as rolling back the judicial tyranny that plagues our nation. Voters in eight states, including Tennessee, will also have the opportunity to directly protect marriage by voting for state marriage-protection amendments."

Dobson will be joined by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council Action; Gary Bauer, former presidential candidate and chairman of American Values and the Campaign for Working Families; Dr. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church, near Seattle, Wash; and Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

As we have noted before, if the Right is indeed angry, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

Former FRC Head Discounts GOP "Lip Service" on Religious Right Issues

While James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and founder of the Family Research Council, has apparently abandoned his threat to hold back on support for Republicans this year, his former lieutenant Ken Connor is still warning that the base may “stay at home.” Connor, the former president of FRC who now heads his own Center for a Just Society, writes that “Christian conservatives” were “in no small part” to thank for the election of George W. Bush, but now—despite a recent politically-timed effort to vote on socially-charged bills—  they ask, “‘What have you done for me lately?’”

A review of the recent record leaves them chagrined.  Notwithstanding the party's lip service, and aside from the confirmation of two promising (yet untested) Supreme Court justices, little real progress has been made in the last two years toward advancing the values agenda.  Planned Parenthood has not been prevented from receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.  The federal courts' jurisdiction has not been trimmed to limit its ability to hear cases involving abortion or same-sex marriage. And the Republican-controlled Congress is outspending its liberal Democratic predecessors.

No doubt, the Republicans would point to the vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment as a testament to their commitment to values voters' priorities.  It was, however, little more than a cynical ploy.  Republican leaders knew the measure had no chance of passage and did precious little to make it pass. That they couldn't even muster majority support in the Republican-controlled Senate is evidence of just how anemic their efforts really were.  Eyewash is not a substitute for the real thing.

In truth, the Republican Party in the last two years has done what it regarded as the absolute minimum necessary to pacify its values voter base.  Sadly, that pacification has come cheap.  Meanwhile, the party has worked hard to advance the agenda of the moneyed and business interests that finance its campaigns.  The unmistakable message has been that the party values money over votes.

Empty Threats

Remember a few months ago when some on the Right, especially James Dobson, were threatening Republicans that there would be negative electoral repercussions unless the GOP worked harder to promote the right-wing agenda?

Some of President Bush's most influential conservative Christian allies are becoming openly critical of the White House and Republicans in Congress, warning that they will withhold their support in the midterm elections unless Congress does more to oppose same-sex marriage, obscenity and abortion. 


In the last several weeks, Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential Christian conservatives, has publicly accused Republican leaders of betraying the social conservatives who helped elect them in 2004. He has also warned in private meetings with about a dozen of the top Republicans in Washington that he may turn critic this fall unless the party delivers on conservative goals. 

Dr. Dobson, whose daily radio broadcast has millions of listeners, has already signaled his willingness to criticize Republican leaders. In a recent interview with Fox News on the eve of a visit to the White House, he accused Republicans of "just ignoring those that put them in office."

Dr. Dobson cited the House's actions on two measures that passed over the objections of social conservatives: a hate-crime bill that extended protections to gay people, and increased support for embryonic stem cell research.

"There's just very, very little to show for what has happened," Dr. Dobson said, "and I think there's going to be some trouble down the road if they don't get on the ball."

Since then, the Republicans haven’t accomplished much in terms of opposing same-sex marriage, obscenity or abortion – but Dobson seems to have realized the symbiotic nature of his relationship with the GOP and has quietly abandoned his petulant threats

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Threats Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 08/12/2010, 1:40pm
For all the flag-waving Tea Party placards accusing the Obama administration of unconstitutional acts and treason, it seems that threats of revolution against the constitutional republic of the United States are coming mostly from the right wing – and not just from fringe militia groups. We recently noted that Religious Right activist Chuck Colson has launched an effort to bully the Supreme Court into opposing marriage equality by threatening that a pro-equality ruling would result in “cultural Armageddon.” And we have noted the American Family Association’s Bryan... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 08/09/2010, 11:56am
For weeks now, Chuck Colson has been warning about threat that President Obama poses to the religious freedoms of Christians, begging people to "understand the severity of the threats to our first freedom" which are coming from all sides and to "realize the kind of fight we're in and be prepared for what we may face in the coming months." They key to protecting these liberties, Colson has been assuring everyone, is for them to sign the Manhattan Declaration which affirms the sanctity of "religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/05/2010, 3:40pm
When Elena Kagan was first nominated to the Supreme Court, rumors swirled that she was a lesbian, which was more than enough evidence for Byran Fischer, who declared that all gays are biased, deviant borderline pedophiles who do not belong in public office. So take just one guess how he is responding to the Prop 8 ruling: Although almost no other organizations other than the American Family Association are making an issue of this, Judge Walker should have recused himself from this case since he is a practicing homosexual. This created a clear conflict of interest, and he had no business... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 07/21/2010, 10:23am
If you thought the Manhattan Declaration was mainly an opportunity for the Religious Right to declare themselves heroes of the Christian faith ... well, you were correct.  But that doesn't mean that organizers were not entirely serious about their pledge to be ready to give their lives to fight Obama's looming Nazi-like dictatorship. That is a point that Manhattan Declaration founders Chuck Colson and Timothy George make in his new video, as George compares those who sign this document to both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King while Colson begs people to "understand the severity... MORE
, Monday 07/12/2010, 4:53pm
At a rally for Tea Party darling and Republican senatorial candidate Ken Buck, former Congressman Tom Tancredo called Barack Obama the greatest threat America has ever faced. Ever. Including al Qaeda and the Soviet Union. Everything is at stake here. Everything. I firmly believe with all my heart, you guys, that, although we have had many threats to our nation. We have gone through a whole lot of things, and survived a many things... But nothing, I do not believe, not the Soviet Union during that 35-year period leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union thanks to Ronald Reagan... We had that... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 07/02/2010, 10:37am
It really is remarkable how the Family Research Council is slowly transitioning from a political group with a religious agenda to a religious group with a political agenda. Case in point: this weekend's second annual Call2Fall event through which FRC seeks to lead churches across the nation on a "journey back to God, to His forgiveness and favor, [which] begins on our knees in humility and repentant prayer." As we noted before, FRC is even providing participants and leaders with suggested sermons and prayer targets - targets that just happen to coincide with FRC's... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 06/29/2010, 2:05pm
Earlier this month, a group of Religious Right leaders banded together to form a group called Citizens Against Religious Bigotry for the sole purpose of launching a campaign against a proposed Comedy Central show about Jesus Christ called "JC." The group claimed the show, which is still only in the development stage, was blasphemous and bigoted and so they set about targeting potential advertisers by warning them not to even think about supporting the show.  And according to organizers, this campaign has been a monumental success and so they are declaring victory: ... MORE