Marriage Equality

Barber: If DOMA Is Struck Down, 'it Will Be the Criminalization of Christianity'

Last week, Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber appeared on Steave Deace's radio program last week to discuss the Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act where he made the dire prediction that if DOMA is struck down, it will lead to wholesale persecution of Christians.

Citing the case of Bob Jones University v. United States in which the Supreme Court ruled that the IRS could revoke the school's tax-exempt status because of its racist policies, Barber predicated that if DOMA is struck down, "we automatically become the modern day racists" and that the nation would see "the criminalization of Christianity":

As soon as DOMA is overturned, the floodgates open. All of those [state] constitutional amendments are wiped out and schools like Liberty University, for instance, and private organizations with Christian ownership, we know the homosexual activists already have their gay married people planning to come and apply to Christian universities so that they will have a court challenge.  The persecution is going to run rampant if gay marriage becomes the law of the land; there is just no questioning and that is a big part of the motive behind it.

If the federal government puts its official stamp of approval on homosexual behavior and says that it's equal to, in every way, natural heterosexual behavior up to and including marriage, then that officially pits the federal government against those who hold a Judeo-Christian worldview relative to sexual morality. We automatically become the modern day racists.

It's like the Bob Jones decision that said - which was a ultimately good decision  - that said Bob Jones University could not have a ban on interracial dating.  Well, they are going to apply that same type of logic to this.  Basically, all bets are off; it will be the criminalization of Christianity.

It's the government against Christians if gay marriage becomes the law of the land and that's not hyperbole.

Rios: Public Schools 'Softening Children Up' for Predators

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios claimed on her radio program yesterday that the gay rights movement is encouraging the “sexualization of our children in public schools” and “softening children up with sexual information way before they’re ready for it in order to prepare them for sexual activity, for predators.”

And even closer to home, Bobby, I think the case could be made, though I’m not sure I’ve made it on this program, that the sexualization of our children in public schools through the radical homosexual movement is really just a cousin to softening children up with sexual information way before they’re ready for it in order to prepare them for sexual activity, for predators. That’s what I think is happening in our public schools.

Rios offered her theory after a conversation with Robert Lopez, a bisexual anti-gay activist, who recalled his recent trip to France to participate in anti-marriage equality protests. Marriage equality, Lopez lamented, is “a dictatorship that is being imposed on the world.”

Those of us in the United States who are very concerned about the same-sex parenting and where that’s going are not alone. I think that there are countries all over Europe and all over the world where people feel increasingly that this is a dictatorship that is being imposed on the world. And I use the word ‘dictatorship’ very consciously because, you know, they tear-gassed children and they tear-gassed politicians who were elected officials behind me while I was at the march in Paris, and it was shameful.

Craig Parshall: Marriage Equality Victories Will Lead to 'Suppression of Speech'

Craig Parshall of National Religious Broadcasters added to the torrent of right-wing doomsday prophesies about marriage equality yesterday, claiming that a Supreme Court victory for gay rights would ultimately lead to hate speech laws wielded against Christians. In an interview with his wife Janet Parshall, a talk show host with Moody Radio, he warned that “the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.”

We have a hate crimes law on the federal level now that we didn’t used to have. It’s only been in play for a few years, but I’m already seeing indications that it could migrate toward the suppression of speech. So there’s no question in my mind that if either or both of these decisions go the wrong way, the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.

He was also upset that Justice Kennedy, during the arguments on Proposition 8, had brought up the well-being of California children being raised by same-sex couples. “There are some 40,000 children in California…that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?,” Kennedy asked.

Parshall, who has previously called the children of gay and lesbian parents “victims of gay mentality,” said that in this case the views of children shouldn’t be considered. “We don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions,” he said. “Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions.”

(Of course, in this case, the parents are not able to make the decision to get married because they are legally barred from doing so).

The issue was, I thought, brought to a head in a very interesting, but I think wrong-headed, question by Justice Kennedy, the swing vote again, who said, ‘Well, but what about those 37,000,’ and actually, excuse me, he said, ‘the 40,000 children living in same-sex relationships in California?’ Actually, the number’s 37,000, I think he rounded it up, that’s fine. The 37,000 children. ‘What about them? They want their putative father and other significant other to be called a married couple.’ Well, number one, do they? I don’t think a survey has been made of those 37,000 children. But, number two, we don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions. Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions. The child doesn’t make the decision about whether marriage should be instituted for the purpose of gay parents.

Charisma to NFL Gays: Stay in the Closet!

Jennifer LeClaire, news editor of Charisma, a magazine and publishing house for Pentecostal Christians, is terrified that the gay agenda “may soon enough seep into Sunday afternoon football” and she has a message for gay NFL players: stay in the closet. Charisma’s daily email newsletter hypes her story this way:

In an age of openly gay clergy preaching the gospel, it wouldn’t be nearly as shocking to see a muscle-bound NFL pro doing a wacky dance after scoring a touchdown. But God forbid it happens.

Don't straight players ever do wacky dances? LeClaire frets about speculation that a professional football player will come out – speculation that has grown with the number of outspoken straight-but-gay-supportive players like Brendon Ayanbadejo. She insists that gay football players should stay in the closet to avoid enticing young people into a sinful lifestyle. All emphases are in the original.

Professional sports should stay out of step. If it’s not supposed to matter whether or not an NFL player is gay, then why do we need to know about his sexual orientation? The gay agenda wants us to know because it wants to shape and mold the minds of the next generation. It’s much the same as the gay superhero drama. Shining a positive spotlight on gay role models in any industry serves to validate homosexuality, which is clearly a sin.

LeClaire is worried that “CBS is reporting that a gay NFL player may soon come out of the closet, which would stir up post-season drama in more ways than one.”

When I was a kid, watching football on Sunday afternoons was a family tradition for many on my block. But as the gay agenda makes its public relations push from all sides, expect to see more gay professional athletes coming out of the closet in 2013, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court validates gay marriage at a federal level before football season begins.

In an age of openly gay clergy preaching the gospel, it wouldn’t be nearly as shocking to see a muscle-bound NFL pro doing a wacky dance after scoring a touchdown. But you can bet whoever comes out first will be the poster child for the radical gay agenda’s campaigns as they seek to make all things LGBT mainstream in a nation under God that’s divided on gay marriage.

Where will the gay agenda go next to recruit kids who are confused about their sexual identity? How should the church respond to youth who need to know who they are in Christ so they can avoid the eternal consequences of homosexual sin?

LeClaire’s message is not particularly surprising, given that she has previously warned against the perils of gay demon rape and recently denounced as anti-God “wickedness” the protection of gay people in the  Violence Against Women Act.  And it’s worth remembering that last fall Charisma publisher Steven Strang was helping Harry Jackson raise money for his not-very-successful plan to use marriage equality as a racial wedge issue against President Obama in swing states.  

Garlow: Christians Will be 'Forced Underground' if Court Affirms Marriage Equality

In an interview with Janet Mefferd yesterday, pastor Jim Garlow elaborated on his theory that gay people don’t actually want to get married. In fact, Garlow told Mefferd, gay people want to “destroy marriage” and “force us to affirm an immoral behavior.”

Garlow further warned that if the Supreme Court affirms marriage equality, Christians will be “forced underground. Their buildings will be taken away from them, many of their rights will be taken away from them.”

Garlow: I think it’s important for people to realize what’s really at stake here. And I know this sounds sound strange, most of us assume naively that what homosexuals are actually for is marriage. And that is not true, at least not universally true. What they want is to destroy marriage.

I think Masha Gessen out of Australia was the most open one I’ve seen on it. She’s a homosexual activist and she just said bluntly, ‘Let’s face it, we don’t want marriage, we want the end of marriage.’ And that’s exactly what happened, of course, in European countries, where they changed the laws regarding what the definition of marriage is and people just stopped getting marriage. And you’d think marriage rates would go up. Instead, they dropped because nobody respects the institution anymore.

And that’s what the heart of this is, not only to end marriage, they’re not demanding marriage for themselves, they want us, to force us to affirm an immoral behavior.

Mefferd: That’s it. And the religious liberty issue, and I know you’ve been really big on this as well, I think more Christians need to understand the connection between advancing LGBT rights and retreating Christian rights.

Garlow: If same-sex so-called marriage is established as the law of the land, many of the people who are listening to my voice right now, not maybe immediately but at some point in the future, if they are followers of Christ, will be forced underground. Their buildings will be taken away from them, many of their rights will be taken away from them.

Matthew Hagee: Gay Marriage Will be 'the Death of Capitalism'

On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," Matthew Hagee warned that legalizing gay marriage would spell "the death of capitalism."

"The only relationship in natural law that can produce consumers," Hagee declared, "is the relationship between a man and a woman. When you create a society that does not recognize this relationship as the foundation of its existence and you cease to produce what is required to sustain your economy, you will not survive":

Barber & Staver Say Entire Judiciary Will Lose Legitimacy if SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality

On the latest "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Matt Barber and Mat Staver weighed in on the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases that are currently before the Supreme Court,  during which Staver declared that if the Court does not rule as he thinks it should, the Supreme Court "will have lost its legitimacy in its entirety." 

Barber agreed and took it a step further, stating that if the Court rules in favor of marriage equality, it "will be the nail in the coffin of the credibility" of the entire judicial system because it is "just absurd" to think that something that the Founding Fathers believed to be a "crime against nature" would now be ruled constitutional.

"If they go over the edge here," Barber warned, "we are no long in decline, we are in a free fall":

Jennifer Roback Morse: If SCOTUS Legalizes Gay Marriage, Future Generations Will Ask 'What Were You Thinking?'

Speaking at today's "March for Marriage," Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute predicated that, should the Supreme Court strike down Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, forty years from now, young people will demand to know "what where you thinking?"

Morse said that future children will turn to their same-sex parents and say "Dad, you and your partner are lovely guys; I love you Dad, but did you really think I would never need a mom?  What were you thinking!?! Mom, I know you love me.  You and your partner are nice ladies, but the biological connection that was so important to you, did you think it would never be important to me?  What were you thinking!?!"

Apparently, in the future, children raised their entire life by same-sex parents will refer to one of their parents as "Mom" or "Dad" and the other as "your partner."

Gary Bauer Threatens to Leave GOP if it 'Bails Out' on Issue of Marriage Equality

Today, the National Organization for Marriage and allied groups organized a "March for Marriage" orchestrated to coincide with arguments at the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. 

The march ended with a rally on the National Mall featuring a variety of speakers, including Gary Bauer, who used it as a platform to send a message to the Republican Party that "if you bail out on this issue, I will leave the party and I will take as many people with me as I possibly can":

Starnes and Rios: Gay Rights Opponents 'Second-Class Citizens,' Face 'Punishment' and 'Persecution'

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes joined Sandy Rios on American Family Radio yesterday to discuss the marriage equality cases being argued at the Supreme Court this week. The two took a grim view of the proceedings: Starnes lamented that opponents of gay rights have become “second-class” citizens and Rios warned that a Supreme Court marriage equality victory would lead to “tremendous punishment” for anti-gay activists.

“We are in for persecution like we have never seen,” she said, to which Starnes replied, “Well, it’s already started.”

Starnes: People are, people are very concerned about, about culture and about values and where things are going in this country. What concerns me, though, Sandy, is the vitriol coming from those who support gay marriage. You know, I’m the kind of person that is more than happy to sit down and talk and debate and listen to what people have to say. I may not agree with it, but at least, you know, it’s their right to have their opinion under our Constitution.

And yet, there seems to be this opinion on the other side that says, you know what, you and I don’t deserve the same rights. You know, it’s as if we’re second-class citizens now because we support the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage, or perhaps we are pro-life, and that means we’re somehow second-class citizens who don’t deserve to be in the public marketplace of ideas.

Rios: Absolutely. In fact, it’ll be worse than that. You know there’s going to be punishment. There will be tremendous punishment. If gay marriage is embraced by the country, if the Supreme Court goes south this week in its hearings, we are in for – of course, we’re not going to hear about it until June – but we are in for persecution like we have never seen it.

Starnes: Well, it’s already started.
 

NOM's Brown Invokes Lincoln on Federal Marriage Amendment: 'We Cannot Be…Half Slave, Half Free'

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown joined Steve Deace on Friday to discuss the marriage equality cases being argued this week at the Supreme Court. If the Court rules broadly in favor of equality, Brown said, NOM would turn its focus toward advocating for a Federal Marriage Amendment banning marriage equality throughout the country. Responding to conservatives who are concerned about the Federal Marriage Amendment’s infringement on states’ rights, Brown invoked Abraham Lincoln: “We need a solution in this country, we cannot be, as Lincoln said, half slave, half free. We can’t have a country on key moral questions where we’re just, where we don’t have a solution.”

I think we’re going to win these cases. But say the worst happens and we lose in a broad way – that means that the Court somehow does a Roe, a Roe v. Wade, on marriage and says that all these state constitutional amendments are overturned, gay marriage is now a constitutional right – well, we’re going to press forward on a Federal Marriage Amendment. We’ve always supported a Federal Marriage Amendment, and there’s a lot of misconceptions about it. Some people try and argue, ‘Well, this is against federalism.’ No, our founders gave us a system where we can amend the Constitution. We shouldn’t have to do this, we shouldn’t have to worry about activist judges, you know, making up out of thin air a constitutional right that obviously none of our founders found there and no one found there until quite recently. But if we do, for us, the Federal Marriage Amendment is a way that people can stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We need a solution in this country, we cannot be, as Lincoln said, half slave, half free. We can’t have a country on key moral questions where we’re just, where we don’t have a solution. And if the Court forces a solution, the way we’ll amend that is through  the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Ohio Anti-Gay Leader Encouraged Portman to Put Son in Ex-Gay Therapy, Vows to Fight His Reelection

Sen. Rob Portman has, unsurprisingly, been faced with a barrage of criticism from Religious Right groups since he announced that, inspired by his gay son, he had changed his mind to support marriage equality. But perhaps no one has been more upset with Portman than Ohio anti-gay leader Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values. Last week, Burress called Portman “a very troubled man” who is  “distraught over what’s happened to his son.”

On Wednesday, Burress took to “ex-gay” activist Michael Brown’s “Line of Fire” radio program to recount a conversation he had with Portman shortly before the senator’s announcement. Portman was “dejected” and “basically sad throughout the conversation,” Burress says. And while Burress had initially thought Portman was “looking for help for his son to walk away from the lifestyle” through "ex-gay" therapy,  it eventually became “obvious that he was going to embrace his son’s behavior, which was devastating, because he just gives his son no chance whatsoever of understanding, you know, that he doesn’t have to be that way.”

Burress knows who to blame for this change of heart in father and son: Yale University, where the younger Portman is currently a freshman. At Yale, Burress says, Portman’s son was “probably associating with the other homosexual activists” and ultimately “forced his dad’s hand on this thing.”

Burress: He called me the night before he went public and told me that he was the first one that he wanted to call, and we shared ideas and thoughts. And when he first called me, I thought he was looking for help for his son to walk away from the lifestyle, because I’m pretty sure that he knows that I spent four and a half years on the board of an international organization helping people walk away. And he dropped the bomb on me by saying he was going to change his opinion, which I still today cannot believe that he did that because this is a principled issue and you just don’t turn your back on principled issues.

Brown: Phil, do you think, and you wrote a very gracious but firm editorial that’s getting a lot of national exposure, do you think that he was unaware before this that his son felt that his homosexuality was not a choice? Because he announced it as if this was a new revelation.

Burress: Well, he knew about it for two and a half years. So, apparently in thinking back, he, they learned about it while he was a freshman in high school, and now he’s a, excuse me, a junior in high school, and now he’s a freshman at Yale. And I don’t think there’s any coincidence to this whatsoever that he came home, probably associating with the other homosexual activists at Yale, and I think maybe he forced his dad’s hand on this thing because, that’s just my gut feeling, because Rob started off the conversation by saying, ‘I’ve got some really bad news,’ and he was dejected and basically sad throughout the whole conversation. And it ended up being a conversation, a dad to a dad, but it was obvious that he was going to embrace his son’s behavior, which was devastating, because he just gives his son no chance whatsoever of understanding, you know, that he doesn’t have to be that way. And I told him that it’s not innate, it’s a learned behavior.

Later in the program, Burress promised electoral defeat for Portman if he runs for reelection in 2016. Burress notes that former Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine lost his bid for reelection in 2006 after opposing a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Burress neglects to mention that DeWine, who supported a federal gay marriage ban,  in fact lost to Democrat and gay-rights supporter Sherrod Brown.


Brown: What do we do now? Do we just say, ‘Another loss, throw in the towel, America’s capitulating,’ or can we bring about change?

Burress: We can bring about change alright, and what’s surfacing now is what happened to Mike DeWine, Senator Mike DeWine, when he opposed us in 2004. I chaired the marriage amendment in Ohio to change the constitution here in Ohio and Senator DeWine came out against us. And he’d been in the Senate for, I think, two or three terms, and obviously that cost him his election. When he ran again, he got beat because he switched his position. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the same thing’s going to happen, based on the emails and the calls we’re getting, is that people are not only devastated but are angry that they have somebody up there that they voted for to represent their point of view and their values and he’s turned his back on them. This is a non-negotiable issue with our organization and he will be listed on our annual, what we call Ohio Election Central, our reporting agency where we endorse candidates, as ‘unacceptable for public office.’

 

Barber & Crampton: Christians Must 'Rise Up' and 'Resist' if SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA

On a recent "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Steve Crampton discussed the looming Supreme Court hearing over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act during which they declared that if the Court strikes it down, "it is high time the people rise up against the tyranny of the judiciary."

"If the judges foist this upon us, we need to resist," proclaimed Crampton, which prompted Barber to respond that Christians will have seriously consider civil disobedience, saying "in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr, it may be the time for peaceful civil disobedience when it comes to the fundamental deconstruction of our most fundamental institutions":

Hagee: Sodom and Gomorrah Was God's 'Pilot Study' for Dealing with 'the Homosexual Society'

On this week's "Hagee Hotline," Pastor John Hagee responded to a question from a viewer about whether God would hold this nation accountable if it ever legalized gay marriage by declaring that biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah was "God's pilot study for his response to the homosexual society," and warning that it was not a matter of the government approving it but rather "if the people accept it, and if the righteous accept it, judgment will come":

Challenging the Right's Religious Liberty Claims

The ongoing campaign by the Religious Right and its conservative Catholic allies to redefine religious liberty in America – which has been covered extensively by PFAW and Right Wing Watch – is the focus of a new report released on Monday by Political Research Associates, a think tank that also monitors right-wing organizations. “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights,” was written by Jay Michaelson, who published a condensed version in the Daily Beast.

Michaelson’s report reviews the organizational players and the strategies they employ, among them: mixing fact and fiction; claiming that there is a war on religious liberty; and reversing the roles of victim and oppressor to portray as religious liberty “victims” people who claim a right to discriminate against others. He notes that Religious Right disinformation has had some success in shaping public opinion: in Minnesota last year a large plurality of marriage equality opponents believed that if marriage equality became the law, churches would be forced to solemnize same-sex marriages, even though there is universal agreement that the First Amendment guarantees that churches are free to choose which relationships to bless or not to bless.

The PRA report includes the following recommendations for social justice advocates:

1. Define and publicize the campaign to redefine religious liberty

2. Organize a unified response

3. Counter misinformation

4. Reclaim the religious liberty frame

5. Develop academic responses

6. Leverage religious communities

7. Ongoing research and monitoring

Religious liberty was also the topic of a forum at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., cosponsored by the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Education Project, Moment Magazine, and the Committee on Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches. Moment, an independent Jewish Magazine, has also published a special Religious Freedom issue for March/April 2013.  At the conference, two large panels brought together a range of religious and secular voices to discuss and debate the meaning of religious liberty and the claims that liberty is under attack in the U.S. today.

Charles Haynes, the First Amendment expert who heads Newseum’s religious liberty committee, noted that the broad coalition that came together to back the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the 1990s is no longer.  Michael Lieberman, director of the Civil Rights Policy Planning Center for the Anti-Defamation League, suggested a reason: that the coalition had intended RFRA to be a shield against government restrictions on the free exercise of religion, but that conservative groups had turned RFRA into a spear used to attack anti-discrimination laws.

One central principle of PFAW’s Twelve Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics became clear: while people can agree on the broad principle that religious liberty protects the freedom to live in accord with one’s religious beliefs, that consensus breaks down quickly when deciding how law and policy should react when religious liberty comes into tension with other constitutional principles like equality under the law. Indeed, panelists strongly (but civilly) disagreed on to what extent organizations – whether religiously affiliated institutions or business corporations – should be able to claim exemption from anti-discrimination laws or the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception. 

Richard Foltin of the American Jewish Committee argued for a shades-of-gray, rather than a black-and-white approach, saying organizations should be viewed on a spectrum, with churches and sectarian institutions on one end and corporations at the other. Foltin said the AJC has submitted amicus briefs in favor of marriage equality at the Supreme Court, but also believes that there are significant religious liberty questions that courts will have to deal with as marriage equality is implemented.  (As noted at another point during the day, the states that now recognize marriage equality all have somewhat different religious exemptions.)

Michaelson proposes five tiers of organizations with differing levels of claims to religious liberty: churches/denominations; religious organizations; religiously affiliated organizations; religiously owned business, and religious individuals. The right-wing, he says, keeps trying to “move the sticks” from the first three groups to the latter two.  He notes that the Mormon Church owns extensive business interests, including shopping malls, and says that if business owners are allowed to claim exemption from anti-discrimination laws and other regulations based on religious belief, many employees will have their rights and interests restricted. 

Author Wendy Kaminer argued that the religious liberty of institutions is over-protected rather than threatened, saying that she believes some claims for religious liberty are actually demands for religious power to impose their beliefs on others.  If business owners are allowed to claim a religious exemption from generally applicable civil rights laws, she asked, what would be the limiting principle to such claims? Could business owners cite religious beliefs to ignore child labor laws, or to refuse to hire married women?  Kaminer challenged what she called an emerging legal double standard: when it comes to taking government funds, advocates say religious organizations need a level playing field and should be treated like every other organization. But when it comes to free exercise claims, and groups like Catholic Charities say they shouldn’t be subject to generally applicable laws, they don’t want a level playing field but special privileges.

Holly Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said that overblown rhetoric about threats to religious freedom is damaging to public understanding of religious liberty. She suggests that the first response to someone who talks about threats to religious liberty should be to ask them what specifically they are talking about.  For example, while people may be concerned when they hear about “an assault on religious liberty,” most Americans do not see a problem with requiring religiously affiliated institutions to abide by anti-discrimination laws or meet contraception requirements.

Legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen suggested that on church-state issues, the Supreme Court justices could be divided into three camps: religious supremacists, advocates of “religious neutrality,” and strict church-state separationists.  The separationists, he said, had their heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s, but that the courts have been moving more toward a “religious neutrality” approach, which he said in some cases is really a cover for the religious supremacists yearning for an openly religious state.  He said a landmark of the triumph of “neutrality” over separation was the 1995 Rosenberger case, in which the court said a public university could not deny funding from a religious publication because of its religious nature.  In the future, he said, Justices Breyer and Kagan may be willing to embrace a “religious neutrality” approach in hopes of winning votes to try to keep Robert and Kennedy from joining the Scalia-Thomas religious supremacists.

Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has filed lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate and which has urged the Supreme Court to uphold Prop 8 and DOMA, portrayed religious liberty issues not as part of a culture war but as the necessity in a pluralistic society of recognizing that differences exist and allowing everyone the maximum ability to live according to their beliefs. He suggested that most church-state conflicts are blown out of proportion and can be resolved relatively easy with a willingness to work around individual religious liberty claims. Kim Colby of the Christian Legal Society endorsed that view, and noted that the Supreme Court will likely be deciding cases in the near future about what constitutes a “substantial burden” on a person’s religious beliefs and what might qualify as a “compelling state interest” that would justify that burden.

Michaelson challenged Rienzi’s portrayal, saying that “religious liberty” itself has become a code word for a new tactic in the culture war against LGBT equality and reproductive rights, and that it was wrong to pretend there would be no victim if a business owner were granted the right, for example, to ignore laws against anti-gay discrimination.  Pharmacies, he said, used to have lunch counters that were segregated. Would it have been OK to justify that discrimination by saying there was another lunch counter down the street, the argument used by advocates for allowing pharmacists to refuse to provide some drugs based on their religious beliefs?

The ADL’s Lieberman said that from his perspective as an advocate for minority religions these do not seem like small or easily resolved issues, and said there was a clear prospect that individual rights would not be safeguarded if, for example, majoritarian school prayer were permitted.  Hoda Elshishtawy, legislative and policy analyst at the Muslim Public Affairs Council also noted the reality of a major power differential between members of majority and minority religions.  Dan Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, noted that there are widespread abuses in public schools, citing an example of a South Carolina public school that set aside a day explicitly intended to try to convert as many students as possible to Christianity.

Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance, who moderated the first panel, noted that even on the day the First Amendment was passed, not everyone agreed with it or agreed with what it meant. We’ve been working it out ever since then and can’t quit, he said.  Charles Haynes made a similar point in his closing remarks, noting that in spite of all the differences evident in how we apply First Amendment principles, the ability to continue having the conversation is a reminder of how well those principles have worked to protect religious liberty in an increasingly diverse nation.

Ralph Reed Makes 'The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage'

A few weeks ago, Ralph Reed stopped by the offices of the Wall Street Journal to make "The Case Against Gay Marriage" which he did by declaring that "all the statistics and data that we have" prove that children of intact, loving families to better than children who do not grow up in such families. 

Reed proceeded to cite some unnamed CEO who claimed to have studied the most productive staff in the company and discovered that "the number one determinant of how hard they worked and how dedicated they were" was coming from an intact, loving family.

Of course, that might lead one to ask how exactly that is supposed to be an argument against gay marriage, since gay marriage would only lead to the creation of more intact, loving families, but Reed wasn't buying it because "we have not tested that thesis on a national level." 

Apparently the anecdotal evidence that Reed gleaned from some anonymous CEO was very convincing but the idea that gay families could also produce productive, hard working citizens was too untested and so it would be dangerous to "tinker" with the institution of marriage so "willy-nilly":

NOM's Peters: Regardless of 'Propaganda,' the Human Heart Knows Gay Marriage is Wrong

Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage was the guest on today's episode of "WallBuilders Live" where he discussed the organization's efforts to spread its anti-marriage equality message to the next generation, saying that the key to their success will be finding a way to overcome the "intolerance and hatred" on campuses against those who promote this message.

Insisting that being anti-gay marriage does not make one anti-gay, Peters asserted that, despite all the "propaganda," the human heart simply knows that gay marriage is wrong and so this position will eventually win out, and it is imperative to work to prevent people from becoming confused and lost in the meantime:  

I'd say that the two big steps to getting to that message, of course, are fighting against the intolerance and hatred that is directed against us, especially in schools. You have a lot of pro-marriage people my age and younger in schools right now and they don't feel safe right now in sharing their pro-marriage convictions on that vast majority of college and high school campuses. That is something that has got to end.  We've got to figure out how to break down this ostracizing of pro-marriage viewpoints.

And second of all, we have to continually talk to people about how being pro-marriage is not anti-gay and that there is simply nothing discriminatory about seeing the love of a man and a woman as unique and special and worth protecting.

...

Marriage just speaks to the human heart and no matter how much propaganda you try to throw at that, the human heart always reestablishes what it knows to be true.  And we just know it's true that there is a difference between two men coming together and a man and a woman coming together.  And so I think that is the core message of marriage that eventually will overcome.  The question is how many people in the meantime are confused, how many people lose out on that saving message.

CPAC Reject McDonnell Welcomed at Religious Right Prayer Breakfast

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress.

Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast.  McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a transportation plan in Virginia that activists say violates a campaign pledge against raising taxes.  Public Advocate also complained that by praising the General Assembly’s approval of a gay district court nominee, McDonnell “BROKE HIS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.”

Inside the prayer breakfast, McDonnell (like the Coalition’s Executive Director Gary Marx an alum of Pat Robertson’s Regent University) was introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes and warmly received.  McDonnell gave a talk that was light on conservative red meat and focused on themes of faith and service, urging activists to pray for humility and wisdom.  He did say it is the job of public officials to get things done according to “Judeo-Christian principles.”  And he cited George Washington saying that the nation could not expect “the smiles of heaven” if it abandoned “eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself have ordained.”

Forbes, a leader of the congressional prayer caucus, said our nation’s problem is that God belongs on the throne, we’ve taken Him off, and we need to put Him back up there.  Forbes resorted to a caricature common among Religious Right leaders, complaining about people he said were trying to change the concept of church-state separation to mean that no one in government can speak about their faith and no one in church can talk about the government.

Also speaking was Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who invoked a mural of the radical abolitionist John Brown that portrays him with a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other, and the tornado of the civil war approaching. He called the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception a “tremendous threat” and an attack of religious liberty. “What would John Brown be doing now?” he asked, suggesting that Brown would be on his knees in prayer but also on his feet demanding action from Congress.  Huelskamp complained that his colleagues in Congress are not acting to protect religious liberty, and denounced their “deafening silence” on threats to marriage. Huelskamp has previously complained to Tony Perkins about “the folks on the left that would like to delete, exclude and repeal any religious liberties or any religious values throughout our entire government and our entire society.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative activist, author, and Real World: San Francisco alum who is married to Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, talked about the dangers of churches and families having ceded territory to “an ever-expanding and insatiable government.” For example, Campos said, school breakfast programs for poor students give parents an excuse not to make breakfast for their own kids and just push them out the door rather than talking to them.

Ralph Reed didn’t make the breakfast, but Gary Marx delivered a version of Reed’s post-2012 “it’s not my fault” analysis. Marx ran through statistics on the millions of contacts the Faith & Freedom Coalition made with the 23.3 million evangelical and Catholic voters in its proprietary database, and he said five million more evangelicals voted in 2012 than in 2008, with 78 percent of them voting for Romney. He said the group is actively engaged in this year’s Virginia elections and pledged that 2014 will see the largest mid-term conservative turnout ever.

The breakfast opened with a prayer by Father John De Celles of St. Raymond Penafort Roman Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia, and closed with a benediction from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America, who called for a reaffirmation of our “national identity” as a “Judeo-Christian nation” and denounced those who threaten the country from within by trying to "dismantle" that heritage and usurp God’s will.

Footnote: Among the VIP attendees acknowledged from the podium was conservative mega-donor Foster Friess, who backed Rick Santorum’s presidential bid but who has more recently encouraged a more moderate approach to LGBT issues, which he has said is due to his familiarity with gay people, including his brother-in-law and his partner.  There was no mention at the breakfast of news that broke last night about Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on marriage after his son came out to him. 

FRC to Pastors: Now THIS is an Anti-Gay Sermon!

If the Family Research Council gets its way, evangelical Christians all across America will hear their pastor deliver a sermon written by an FRC official condemning homosexuality and the advance of marriage equality this weekend or next.  On March 26 and 27 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases involving California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and this week FRC emailed pastors urging them to hold a “Stand for Marriage Sunday” before then, providing links to a sermon and full-color bulletin insert recapping its main points.

The 4300-word suggested sermon and accompanying power point presentation start with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and march through every Religious Right talking point on homosexuality, marriage equality, and the Satanic, anti-Christian, Nazi-like gay rights movement that is inviting the downfall of civilization. Here are the section heads and some highlights:

Section 1: The Divine Pattern

The sermon says God created men and women to complete each other, and actually includes, “Aren’t you glad God created Adam and Eve, and not just Adam and Steve?” It quotes James Dobson saying “More than ten thousand studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by mothers and fathers.” And it asserts that in both the Old and New Testaments, “one man and one woman in a marriage covenant relationship for life is the divine pattern.” (The sermon does not address the abundant inconvenient exceptions to one-man, one-woman marriage in the Bible.)

After reviewing all the ways marriage makes people, couples, and children happier, the section concludes:

God’s way works! Think about it. Every civilization in history is built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation. The happiness of couples, the welfare of children, the propagation of the faith, the wellbeing of society, and the orderliness of civilization are all dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. When this God-given pattern is undermined, the whole superstructure of society becomes unstable. Any deviation from the divine pattern invites disaster.

Section 2: The Deceptive Perversion

According to the sermon, homosexuality is a deceptive perversion, a sin that is “open rebellion against the divine pattern.” It cites the familiar “abomination” verses and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Section 3: The Definitive Problem

This section compares gay-rights advocates’ claims that people are born Gay or that “God made us gay” to Nazi propaganda. “They essentially practice Joseph Goebel’s Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it.” The sermon also compares homosexuality to other “sexual sins” such as promiscuity, adultery and pedophilia. “I do not believe,” it says, “that God would not place in your genetic code something that would damn your immortal soul.” [sic on the double negative]

Section 4: The Destructive Program

This section recounts the dangers of the “radical homosexual agenda,” its goal of “silencing critics in the clergy and Christian media,” and its conquest of the entertainment, educational, and legal arenas, citing a litany of familiar Religious Right horror stories about the alleged persecution of Christians who stand against the merciless gay rights steamroller.  And it pushes one of the primary talking points of Religious Right leaders and their conservative Catholic allies: that equality and religious liberty are fundamentally incompatible:

Where homosexual activists win legal approval, whether by court action or legislation, they often deny our full rights as Christians because a homosexual’s so-called “civil rights” and a Christian’s freedom of conscience and speech opposing homosexuality are mutually exclusive.

“Listen,” the sermon warns, “homosexual activists won’t stop at recognition, their aim is domination. They will not stop until they win over our children and our convicting voice is silenced.”

Section 5: The Determined Plan

These are the action steps FRC wants people hearing the sermon to take:

Action Step 1: Pray

The sermon calls on people to pray for spiritual revival and for “God’s mercy on a nation that is speeding toward Sodom, and hurtling toward Gomorrah.”

Action Step 2: Practice

This section says Christians give up their credibility to challenge the culture when their divorce rate is the same as everyone else’s, and urges people to follow biblical instructions on marriage and home life.

Action Step 3: Participate

This section is a direct rebuke to people who think politics are of the world, something Christians should stay out of. “Since God created the institution of government, would He want His people to stay out of it? No. If Christians don’t ‘render to Caesar’ (Matt. 22:21) and don’t function as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matt. 5:13-16) in the arena of government, then we disobey the commands of Christ and allow Satan to prevail by default.”  The sermon urges people to write blog posts, use Facebook and Twitter, comment on news stories, knock on doors, contact elected officials, and join the March for Marriage being organized by the National Organization for Marriage and its allies in Washington DC on March 26.

Action Step 4: Proclaim

This section urges people to tell those in the “homosexual lifestyle” that they do not have to remain “slaves to sin” but can pray away the gay.

Let’s stand along these poor misguided and lost people trapped in Satan’s snare. Let’s love them out of that sinful and destructive lifestyle! ... But let’s also exercise our rights as Christian citizens! Listen, we can make the difference. Together, Christians all across America can protect and preserve marriage for our children and our children’s children. Let’s stand for God’s plan for marriage because our future depends on it. And all of God’s people said: Amen!

Fischer: Marriage Equality Is Really 'Inequality Under the Law'

Bryan Fischer is a big fan of the line of argumentation that gays already have full marriage equality because they have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as anyone else.

He reiterated this argument on his radio program today, adding that gay marriage is really "inequality under the law" because it grants to gay couples "a special carve-out for themselves that is not available to pedophiles and polygamists" and others who "engage in sexually abnormal behavior":

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