Religious Liberty

FRC Ominously Warns of "The Pinking of America"

Yesterday it was reported that "17 of the Victory Fund’s 21 endorsed candidates on the ballot yesterday either won their races outright or advanced to general elections."

The Victory Fund endorses and supports openly LGBT candidates and works to help them win election to local, state and federal offices ... and so I guess it should come as no surprise that people like Cynthia Hill of the Family Research Council would start raising alarms about the success of LGBT candidates and "The Pinking of America":

Americans should take a cold, hard look at the consequences of significant wins by openly lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) candidates in last night’s races. This is the fruition of that community’s methodical efforts to further homosexualize America. Their efforts, combined with this administration’s appointments of key federal positions of at least 101 LGBT aficionados, have largely been under the radar, but could predict critical damage to our rule of law. Think of it – we are electing people who ultimately see the Christian world view as the single, final barrier to their ultimate goal of acceptance and implementation of the homosexual agenda. If and when they dominate the legislatures, those who espouse Biblical principles then become the enemy and will surely be on the wrong end of law-making. We, in fact, saw this played out last night in the Rhode Island legislature where two concurrent measures, H 7044 and S 2055, passed which can criminalize dissent and infringe upon free speech and religious liberty. We need to rethink the skills needed to run a country, and to even consider that someone’s sexual predilections somehow qualifies them for the job is a joke that should have none of us laughing.

Did it ever occur to Hill that gay candidates and appointees might actually possess the necessary qualifications for these positions?  Apparently not. 

And what exactly does she mean when she says "we need to rethink the skills needed to run a country"?  That gays do not have the skills needed to run the country? Or that, by virture of being gay, they ought to be disqualified from serving in public office? 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • A father and son have been arrested with threatening to kill Rep. Bart Stupack for voting for health care reform, saying they would "paint the Mackinaw [sic] Bridge with the blood of you and your family members."
  • The Duggars will receive the first ever "Pro-Family Entertainment Award" at the Family Research Council's fifth annual Values Voter Summit.
  • Speaking of FRC, they are launching a new website that "tracks state legislation related to issues of importance to families, including religious liberty, abortion, homosexuality, domestic violence, the sanctity of marriage, embryonic research, pornography and education."
  • Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition seems to think that he ought to have the right to protest on private property ... and is threatening to sue.
  • Behold what sort of nonsense passes for political analysis from Gary Bauer.
  • Do you know what the AFA's Tim Wildmon doesn't like?  Political Correctness.
  • Finally, I would just like to tell Rod Parsley and his Center for Moral Clarity that "Bill Gates" is not our Secretary of Defense.  That job belongs to Robert Gates.

Land Supports Immigration Reform Because Hispanics Are "Tailor-Made to be Social Conservatives"

Last month a handful of Religious Right leaders announced support for immigration reform legislation that contained a path to citizenship for those already in the country.  This was a distinct break from the traditional right-wing position of demanding immigration reform legislation that consisted entirely of building fences and round-up and deporting immigrants ... but even the support from these Religious Right leaders was somewhat tenuous, as they recently announced that any effort to include same-sex partners in the legislation would force them to withdraw their support.

Among those leaders signaling their conditional support for immigration reform was Richard Land of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who explains that he supports such measures because he is commanded to do so by the Bible: 

"It's love your neighbor, do unto others," Land said. "This is a kingdom issue. They are disproportionately suffering because they are forced to remain in the shadows because of their illegal status."

That may be part of it ... and an even larger part of it has a lot to do with the fact that Land sees the political benefits of luring Hispanics into the right-wing movement:

Religious leaders are trying to find middle ground. Most illegal immigrants in the U.S. are Hispanic, a growing demographic with socially conservative views that could be tapped to increase churches' numbers.

"Do all agree with me? No," Land said. "But (Hispanics) are hard-wired to be social conservatives unless we drive them away. They are family oriented, religiously oriented and pro-marriage, pro-life ... tailor-made to be social conservatives."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • A new political organization is being launched in Louisiana called the Christian Party which will focus on applying the teachings of Jesus Christ to the political process.
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann loves the media ... just not the "mainstream media" where they ask her questions and stuff.
  • Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer continues to blame everyone else for mistakenly thinking that her claim that her father “died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany” meant that her father had died fighting the Nazis in Germany.
  • Al Mohler warns that if Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed, it will destroy religious freedom and fundamentally remake American society.
  • The AFA's Bryan Fischer succinctly explains the situation in Israel: "The real tragedy here is Islam. Islam inspired the deadly confrontation which led to the deaths of 10 hate-boat workers. Islam with its implacable, mindless and demonic hatred of Jews and Israel is to blame."
  • Finally, the quote of the day from the Family Research Council on President Obama declaring June to be Gay Pride Month (aka "sexual deviance month"): "President Obama took it a step further and added 'bisexuals' and 'transgenders' to the list. In fact, he called on 'every America' to spend the month celebrating their movement--a movement dedicated to destroying marriage, free speech, public health, religious liberty, and (after the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal) national security."

Staver et al Threaten to Withdraw Support For Immigration Reform Over Domestic Partners

Last month a handful of Religious Right leaders banded together and announced their support for a "just assimilation immigration policy" that contained a pathway to citizenship for those already in the country. 

The group, consisting of Mat Staver, Richard Land, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Ken Blackwell, and Lou Engle, was trying to break away from the knee-jerk right-wing opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and the temptation to scream "AMNESTY!" any time a pathway to citizenship was proposed. 

Alan Colmes had Staver on his program to talk about this effort and, at one point, asked him why he was willing to show so much compassion for immigrants but so unwilling to show similar compassion to gays.  Staver responded that the immigration issue was complicated enough and didn't want to get into that conversation and go off track.  

Which is interesting, considering that today this same group of Religious Right activists issued a statement saying that any effort to cover "same-sex domestic partners" in immigration reform legislation "will cause religious conservatives to withdraw their support":

"A flawed immigration policy and the failure of the federal government to enforce existing immigration laws pose serious threats to our national security and domestic tranquility," said Mathew Staver, Founder & Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "Any potential consensus for key aspects of immigration may quickly be set back by partisan politics and special interests," Staver continued.

Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) proposed immigration bill includes a provision for same-sex domestic partners. President Barack Obama supports the objective of this provision, despite the fact that inclusion of domestic partnerships will kill any immigration bill. The provision in Schumer’s bill, like the proposed Uniting American Families Act, will treat same-sex domestic partners like spouses in a marriage, thus making way for a foreign same-sex partner to become a legal citizen because of the relationship to a U.S. citizen. Despite the fact that homosexual groups estimate that the domestic partner provision will benefit only about 36,000 people, Sen. Schumer and President Obama still support the measure.

The undersigned question whether President Obama and Sen. Schumer are more interested in pandering to special interest groups than they are to the pressing needs of immigration. "Same-sex domestic partnerships will doom any effort for bipartisan support of immigration and will cause religious conservatives to withdraw their support," Staver warned. "If same-sex domestic partnerships are included, the immigration bill will have no chance of passing," Staver said. We call upon the President and Congress to secure our borders, enforce the law, and pass a Just Assimilation Immigration bill. We urge our elected leaders to put the interest of America first and stop the political posturing.

The following evangelical leaders affirm this statement on Immigration: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel; Lou Engle, Co-founder, The Call to Conscience, and more.

2 Chronicles 7:14: The Religious Right's Mobilizing Passage

Recently 2 Chronicles 7:14 has became the central verse for mobilizing the Religious Right ... and it happened not long after President Obama won the White House:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Ever since Obama and the Democrats took over, the Religious Right has become convinced that the election was the result of our nation's wickedness and the only way to cast off this curse is for its people to humble themselves and plead with God to heal our land. 

Thus, this passage has been the foundation of Janet Porter's May Day 2010 Prayer Rally, the Global Day of Prayer, the National Day of Prayer, and the FRC's upcoming Call 2 Fall event.  And it was also the central theme of Richard Land's recent address to FRC's Watchmen on the Wall conference, where he warned that without revival, this country was on its way to becoming fundamentally unrecognizable:

American Christians will one day not recognize their country if a movement of God that begins with a revival among His people does not occur, Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told a pastors briefing in the nation's capital.

"If we don't have a revival that becomes an awakening and ripens into a reformation, many of us -- if we live out our full lives -- are going to walk the streets of our neighborhood, drive the roads of our city and our state, and, oh, we'll recognize the place names, but the America we've known will be gone," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "We'll be strangers in our own land...."

Land spoke at the annual Watchmen on the Wall pastors briefing sponsored by Family Research Council and attended by more than 500 people.

He spoke on 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, "If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

"All great movements of God," Land said, "start with God's people getting right with God.

...

Washington "has been, is and always will be a caboose," he said. "It's never been, and it never will be, a locomotive. Washington is what sociologists call a lagging social indicator. When the country changes, Washington will change. Washington's not going to change the country. We're going to change Washington."

LaBarbera Demands to Know if Kagan "Has a Personal Interest in Lesbianism"

Like the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth is also demanding to know if Elena Kagan is a lesbian because "homosexuals’ privacy interests simply do not outweigh the public’s right to know about potential conflicts-of-interest in the lives of their judges and lawmakers":

“If Kagan is practicing immoral sexual behavior, it reflects on her character as a judicial nominee and her personal bias as potentially one of the most important public officials in America. The popular mantra — even among conservatives — is that Kagan’s sexuality is ‘irrelevant.’ But a Justice Kagan would help decide some critically important constitutional issues dealing with: homosexual ‘marriage’ as a supposed civil right; religious liberty and freedom of conscience; and the First Amendment as applied to citizens’ right to oppose homosexuality. So it certainly matters if she, as a lifetime judge, could emerge as a crusading (openly) ‘gay’ advocate on the court.

“Kagan has a strong pro-homosexual record, including, as Harvard dean, fighting to keep military recruiters off the campus because the military bars homosexuals. Americans certainly have a right to know if her activism is driven by deeply personal motivations that could undermine her fairness as a judge.”

“Besides, in an era of ubiquitous pro-gay messages and pop culture celebration of homosexuality, it’s ridiculous that Americans should be left guessing as to whether a Supreme Court nominee has a special, personal interest in homosexuality.

“Given the important homosexual-related issues coming before the Supreme Court , Kagan should say so if she has a personal interest in lesbianism. Similarly, any legislator — especially one representing a conservative district — should come clean on the homosexuality question particularly if it is an ‘open secret’ like Mark Foley’s homosexuality (years before the page scandal) or becomes the subject of wide speculation.

“We appeal to Kagan and all potential “hiding-in-the-closet” public officials to answer the question: ‘Are (or were) you a practicing homosexual or do you consider yourself homosexual (gay)?’ Homosexuals’ privacy interests simply do not outweigh the public’s right to know about potential conflicts-of-interest in the lives of their judges and lawmakers.”

The Strange SCOTUS Demands of the Religious Right

I have to say that I am rather confused by the strange demands that Religious Right leaders are making of President Obama as he prepares to name his nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

Concerned Women for America is demanding that Obama name a nominee that they supports their right wing views and Phyllis Schlafly is demanding that Obama name a military veteran ... and now a group of leaders are demanding that he name someone "who will support the right of the government to maintain a decent society and to protect children from indecent and other media content that is harmful to them":

In a letter sent yesterday to the president, the group said, "There are currently four cases pending in the lower federal courts in which the major broadcast TV networks are challenging FCC indecency rulings and the broadcast indecency law itself. What the networks ultimately want is an unrestricted 'right' to curse as much as they want and to depict as much nudity and sex as they want (presumably, short of obscenity), regardless of the impact of this programming on children, on unwilling adults who are assaulted by it in the privacy of their homes, and on the moral fabric of society."

...

The letter was signed by representatives of Morality in Media, Decent TV, Parents Television Council, American Family Association, OneMillionMoms.com, American Decency Association, Citizens for Community Values, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Christian Film & TV Commission, Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, Family Research Council Action, Business & Athletes for Kids.

I have to say that when I frist saw this press release about a letter signed by FRC, CWA, AFA, and others making demands regarding a SCOTUS nominee, I certainly did not think it was going to be calling for one who will protect children from indecent media. 

Religious Right Groups Get McDonnell to Rescind Prayer Policy for State Police Chaplains

Back in 2008, Gordon Klingenschmitt found a new crusade, demanding a reversal of the policy implemented by Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty telling policy chaplains to offer nondenominational prayers at department-sanctioned public events.

Chaps organized rallys protesting the policy, but to no avail ... at least until Bob McDonnell became Governor, who has now ordered the policy changed thanks to lobbying by state-based Religious Right groups:

After months of lobbying by conservative activists, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly reversed a policy banning Virginia State Police troopers from referring to Jesus Christ in public prayers.

McDonnell this afternoon sent Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the State Police superintendent, to tell the nine troopers who serve as chaplains about the change in policy.

"The Governor does not believe the state should tell chaplains of any faith how to pray,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Marin said. "Religious officials of all faiths should be allowed to pray according to the dictates of their own conscience, and in accordance with their faith traditions, while being respectful of the faith traditions of others.

...

Donald Blake, president of Virginia Christian Alliance, said last week that he spoke to McDonnell about the change at a recent fundraiser at the governor's mansion and at a private meeting with McDonnell's chief of staff Martin Kent.

Other groups, including the Family Foundation of Virginia, also support a change and have been lobbying for one. The governor's office has received a handful of letters, faxes and emails in support of a reversal.

...

"We are obviously thrilled that Governor McDonnell has fulfilled his campaign promise to restore the religious liberty rights of state police chaplains,'' said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia. "His action reverses the discriminatory policy of the previous administration and ensures that chaplains can remain true to their faith at public events."

Dobson: "As You Know, I Do Not Personally Endorse Many Political Candidates"

Back in February, James Dobson announced his endorsement of Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who is running for the vacant US Senate in Kansas, claiming that while he normally didn't endorse candidates, 2010 was so important that he had to make an exception: 

As you know, I do not personally endorse many political candidates. However, with the stakes so high in the 2010 elections, I believe it is imperative that we elect Christian leaders who will fight for the principles that promote strong family values. That is why I am enthusiastically endorsing Todd Tiahrt in his race for the United States Senate.

If the idea that Dobson was reluctant to endorse candidates seemed odd to you, you were not alone, considering that he endorsed Mike Huckabee back in 2008 and then all but endorsed John McCain after explicitly and repeatedly declaring that he would not vote for McCain under any circumstances.

Since then, Dobson has gone on to endorse several other candidates heading into the 2010 elections: 

Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry today received the endorsement of Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, for re-election in 2010.

“Over the years, Gov. Perry has established a record that is consistently pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-religious liberty,” said Dr. Dobson. “He has demonstrated his deep regard for the sanctity of life by signing more pro-life bills into law than any other governor in Texas history. He demonstrated his support for the God-given institution of marriage by strongly supporting the Texas Marriage Amendment. And he has helped lead the effort to establish the strongest protections for religious liberty in the state of Texas. No other candidate in this race measures up to the high standards established by Gov. Perry on these critical issues of our day.”

Dan Coats

Dr. James Dobson, the influential evangelical and founder of Focus on the Family, is endorsing Republican Dan Coats in the race for Senate in Indiana, the Coats campaign said Monday.

“I have long respected former Senator Dan Coats for his integrity and his legislative influence in the Congress,” Dobson said in a statement. “I also admire his personal commitment to his Christian faith in public life. Dan has been a consistent leader of pro-family causes and a stalwart defender of unborn children. If my wife Shirley and I were Hoosiers, we would definitely vote for Dan Coats in the May 4th primary.”

In addition to the endorsement, Dobson cut a radio ad on Coats’ behalf that is set to run starting on Tuesday.

Trey Grayson

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, announced today that he is endorsing Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

“Trey Grayson is the only candidate with the conviction to lead on the issues that matter to Kentucky families. His unwavering commitment to the sanctity of human life and the family resonates with me. I know that he will be a leader on these issues, not just another Senator who checks the box. As a matter of conscience, I encourage Kentuckians to support Trey Grayson on May 18th,” said Dobson.

You know, for someone who claims not to "personally endorse many political candidates," James Dobson sure does seem to be personally endorsing a lot of political candidates.

ENDA: The Religious Right Dusts Off Its Hate Crimes Playbook

As we've been noting for a while now, the Religious Right is gearing up to fight the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and is planning on doing so by, quite literally, using the same false attacks that they tried to use against hate crimes legislation.

Of course, their false claims didn't work the last time around, but since the Religious Right can't oppose ENDA on its merits, they're stuck with using the same fearmongering tactics once again:

Does this seem familiar? It should, because it's exactly what FRC did in opposing hate crimes:

As I pointed out not too long ago, if anything the Religious Right had said about the dire impact that hate crimes legislation would have on religious freedom had been true, they would pretty much all be in jail now.

But they aren't ... and that is because every claim they made was false. 

And now they are making those very same claims about ENDA.

You really have to marvel at the Religious Right's strategy in opposing ENDA as they seem intent on using the exact same playbook they used against hate crimes legislation despite the fact that their anti-hate crimes strategy failed and their dire predictions about hate crimes spelling the end of religious liberty have been proven demonstrably false.

Apparently they think it will somehow be more successful the second time around.

Sputtering Start to Religious Right's Rebranding

The Freedom Federation’s “Awakening” conference convened at Liberty University on April 15 and 16  with the ambitious goal of transforming America by touching off the greatest religious revival that America or the world has ever known.   Short of that, the gathering was all about rebranding the Religious Right political movement as a “multiracial, multi-ethnic, transgenerational” movement that cares about social justice (sorry, Glenn Beck). In short, the conference was meant to send a message to young and non-white evangelicals: this ain’t your father’s Religious Right.

Given the gathering’s audacious goals, and the number and firepower of participating Religious Right leaders (who it was claimed represented 40 million Americans), attendance was dismal. In fact there’s probably never been a conference with a higher ratio of featured speakers (52) to attendees (a couple of hundred at best, not counting the session that used a regularly scheduled student convocation to give speaker Sam Rodriguez a larger audience). 
 
Of course, there were plenty of signs that the old Religious Right and its focus on divisive fear-driven politics haven’t gone anywhere.  Speaker after speaker portrayed faith and freedom under relentless attack in America. In spite of repeated assertions that the movement was nonpartisan and would not be co-opted by any political party, it was clear that the top political priorities for these leaders are to help Republicans take back at least one house of Congress in 2010 and to defeat the tyrannical Barack Obama in 2012. Ending abortion and turning back progress toward equality for LGBT people are top policy priorities.
 
Despite the low turnout, the conference served as an opportunity for organizers to meet and strategize for the 2010 elections, and to try out some new messaging and public relations strategies. Here were the conference’s main themes:
  • Tyranny! Red Alert! America is in big trouble. Freedom is under attack by President Obama and his allies in Congress. And since Obama is no friend of Israel, we’re in trouble with God.
  • Fight! Big threats mean we have to be ready to fight, fight fight. The tea party movement was invoked favorably and, given the turnout, a bit wistfully.
  • Unify. A major theme of the event was the need to ignore major theological differences among speakers and focus on common values such as ending abortion and the Obama administration.
  • Diversify. The conference made a major effort to showcase the Freedom Federation’s claims to be a multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational movement. 
  • Seek Social Justice. Watch out, Glenn Beck, these right-wingers are eager to portray themselves as a social justice movement.
  • Millennial Generation, saving America is your job.

FRC Calls for Impeachment Over National Day of Prayer Ruling

Last Friday, a judge struck down Arkansas' law banning adoption by unmarried couples but, interestingly, the decision has not yielded an outpouring of outrage from the Religious Right - at least, not yet.

And the reason for that seems to be due to the fact that they are still too busy being outraged about the other ruling from last week finding the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional.

Dave Welch of the US Pastor Council says the ruling "is grounded in a fundamental hostility against public expression of the Christian faith" and the result of the fact that the nation continues to "reject the existence and/or sovereignty of God," while Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard made the issue the focus on his latest "Stoplight" video (note Mike Huckabee's appearance in the very beginning):

And while Fox News' Megyn Kelly can't seem to understand how a day designed to "acknowledge the role that God has played in the formation of this country and its laws" could ever be seen as promoting religion, The Christian Defense Coalition's Rev. Patrick Mahoney and Faith 2 Action's Rev. Rob Schenck are planning a press conference to demand that the Obama administration appeal the ruling:

President Obama has a unique chance to build a bridge to the faith community by acting quickly on this matter and reaffirming his commitment to public expressions of faith and the National Day of Prayer. It is not enough for Mr. Obama to make wonderful speeches about protecting religious freedom around the world.

"Now is the time to act on protecting religious freedom in America.

"Sadly, the President's record concerning the Christian community and religious liberty is not a good one.

Meanwhile, Rep. Randy Forbes is telling Focus on the Family that the decision should be a "wake-up call" to all Americans about the importance of keeping "activist judges" off the bench:

The federal judge’s decision to call the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional represents a movement we are seeing across the country of a small minority who want to exclude faith, religion and morality from the marketplace of ideas. In so doing, they may be depriving us of the very principles we need to secure our freedom.

...

While we cannot speculate how the Supreme Court would rule on this case, one thing this particular decision should make clear is how dangerous it is to appoint activist judges. This federal judge has essentially said that the Declaration of Independence – a document that very clearly states that our rights were given by a Creator – is unconstitutional. Is there any question this judge would have declared the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional if it were written today, since it proclaims all our rights come from the Creator? It is regrettable that we would have a federal judge essentially rule against the very premise of the nation's foundational document of freedom. The decision should be a wake-up call to Americans across the country.

But not to be outone is the Family Research Council, which is demanding the impeachment of the judge and that the nation fall on its knees to pray for our nation during these "darkest days":

Make no mistake. This judicial mutiny lies directly at the feet of the Left, including President Obama, who has created an atmosphere in which the Constitution is silly putty in the hands of liberal activists. Slowly but surely, he is making American soil more fertile for the radical redefinition of society. This cannot be tolerated. We must ensure that the President's bench nominees have a reverence for the Constitution that this judge lacks. In the meantime, we call on Congress to start the impeachment proceedings for Barbara Crabb, as she violated of her sacred oath of "administering justice... under the Constitution and laws of the United States." What she has done to repress, we will use to revive. What she meant to undermine prayer, we will use as the reason why it's necessary. When the great men and women of our past bent their knees to God on behalf of the "sacred fire of liberty," it was often during the nation's darkest days. My friends, it is time we join them.

If Anything They Said Was True, They'd Both Be In Jail

Back in February, the Thomas More Law Center announced that it was filing suit to challenge the constitutionality of the recently enacted hate crimes legislation on the grounds that "the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin."

Of course, the fact that this is patently false as the legislation contains explicit free speech and religious liberty protections isn't going to stop them from claiming that the law is an attempt to outlaw Christianity and protect pedophiles ... which is exactly what Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center and Rick Green of Wallbuilders did yesterday while discussing the issue on Wallbuilders Live:

 

Muise: We're in this [legal fight] for the long haul, and we need to be because those opponents of Christianity and the Christian view, they don't give up so quickly. They're continuing to press and fight as long and hard as they can to ensure that, you know, their really deviant sexual behavior is elevated to a special protected class as a matter of federal law and federal policy and they want to normalize it and want to silence Christians who oppose it.  In fact, when you look at this, to even call it hate crimes legislation, they really want to equate the biblical teaching of homosexuality with racist speech, they want to really vilify it, demonize it, so it's no longer a participant in the marketplace of ideas. I mean this is all part and parcle of really a grand plan.

Green: I have never heard a Christian minister say "go out and do violence against a homosexual," so I don't even understand where they get ... if you get up and say "look, here's the deal, the Bible says this is a sin, no different than adultery is a sin, all these other things, the Bible speaks against this" and if you say this, that somehow that is inciting violence. I don't even get that connection.

Muise: You get the connection only because that's the rhetoric they use to silence those who oppose them. When you look at the Bible, and the Bible's words on homosexuality are quite harsh, as they are for other sinful conduct. Really, I don't know of any other situation where we've elevated deviant sexual behavior and those who engage in it to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and federal policy.

Green: And including pedophiles.

Of course, the great irony of this entire discussion is that if the right-wing claims about hate crimes legislation being designed to silence Christians who speak out against homosexuality were true, then both Green and Muise would immediately be arrested for the very things they just said. 

But that won't happen because their free speech and religious liberty rights have not been violated by the law, which undermines their central claim that hate crimes legislation is unconstitutional because it will silence Christians from speaking out.

In short, Green and Muise just spent a half-hour citing the Bible and railing against the "deviant sexual behavior" of gays, all while claiming that the existence of hate crimes legislation would result in anyone who cited the Bible or railed against gays being hauled off to jail .. and neither of them has been hauled off to jail.

The ENDA Is Near!

One of the points we made repeatedly in the posts we wrote on the Religious Right's militant opposition to expanding hate crimes legislation to include "sexual orientation" was that the Right never once complained during the decade when "religion" and "race" received federal protections.  It wasn't until protections for sexual orientation were added that they started screaming about supposed "special rights" and claiming that the legislation amounted to an unconstitutional threat to their religious liberty that would lead to pastors being tossed into jail. 

Of course, it has now been more than five months since this legislation was signed into a law and not a single pastor or religious leader has seen their religious freedom impacted in any way. 

Everything the Right said about expanding hate crimes protections was false and designed to scare people into opposing it ... and now groups like the Family Research Council are putting the same strategy to work in generating opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and raise money:

Do you think it's right for liberals running the government to ... 

  • Force a Christian bookstore to hire a man . . . who dresses in women's clothing?
  • Force your child's religious school to hire homosexual instructors?
  • Force your employer to fire or censure you for what they call "anti-gay harassment" . . . for simply keeping a Bible on your desk?

That's the nightmare you could face if the Obama/Pelosi/Reid Congress passes the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

And that's why it must be exposed.  

... 

You are standing in the way of the Left's immoral vision for America. And laws like ENDA are intended for one thing-to silence your "obsolete" Christian morality and tear down all boundaries to unhealthy sexual behavior.

By sustaining your prayers and generous support of FRC, you're not only investing in the long-term health of faith, family, and freedom in America . . .

You're also strengthening the leading social conservative organization in Washington, D.C. Our respected team has decades of experience developing and blocking legislation, voicing the truth in and through the media, and mobilizing Americans.

Please join with other loyal FRC supporters in our campaign to expose ENDA by sending a generous, tax-deductible donation

 Of course, just as with hate crimes, the Right's claims are totally false:

What ENDA Does

  • Extends federal employment discrimination protections currently provided based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Prohibits public and private employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation
  • Provides for the same procedures, and similar, but somewhat more limited, remedies as are permitted under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Applies to Congress and the federal government, as well as employees of state and local governments

What ENDA Does Not Do

  • Cover businesses with fewer than 15 employees
  • Apply to religious organizations
  • Apply to the uniformed members of the armed forces (the bill doesn't affect the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy)
  • Allow for quotas or preferential treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Allow a "disparate impact" claim similar to the one available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore, an employer is not required to justify a neutral practice that may have a statistically disparate impact on individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Allow the imposition of affirmative action for a violation of ENDA
  • Allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect statistics on sexual orientation or gender identity or compel employers to collect such statistics.
  • Apply retroactively

ENDA does not "force" anyone to hire or fire anyone, it simply extends anti-discrimination protections in the workplace to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Just as with hate crimes, anti-discrimination protections for things like religion have existed for decades and the Religious Right never once complained about the fact that Christians were receiving "special rights" ... but now that there are efforts to ensure that sexual orientation receives similar protections, it is proof that liberals are out to silence Christians.

Baptist Church to Be Cut Off Over Female Pastor

Back during the last presidential election, questions were raised about the Southern Baptist Convention's position that women are subservient to men, especially as it related to Mike Huckabee and his support for the belief that "a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

The issue came up again when John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, with people like Tony Perkins and Richard Land saying it was perfectly acceptable for Palin to possible be VP, but not okay for a woman to serve in a leadership position within the church.

Well, the issue is coming up once more, as the Georgia Baptist Convention is considering cutting ties with a local church where a husaband and wife team have been serving as co-pastors:

A more than 95-year-old church in Atlanta may be ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention over a woman pastor.

The Rev. Mimi Walker has been serving as co-pastor at Druid Hills Baptist Church with her husband, the Rev. Graham Walker, since 2003. But earlier this month, leaders of the Georgia Baptist Convention recommended cutting ties with the local congregation.

...

Dr. Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the Baptist Faith and Message does not state that "women are to be subservient to men." They are of equal worth before God, he stated earlier.

And though women are gifted for service in the church, Land says the New Testament teaches that "a woman is not to usurp authority over the man" and thus women are not to serve as pastors.

It was just last year that Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, warned that the SBC risked dying out if it did not find a way to stop losing members. 

Of course, that was said just weeks after the SBC had kicked out a church due to the fact that it was insufficiently hostile to gays.

It should also be noted that this would be the second time in a year that the Georgia Baptist Convention has severed ties with a local church over a female pastor.

FRC's Faith & Family Summit Free to All Comers

Back in December, the Family Research Council announced that it would be holding a Faith & Family Summit in Washington, DC on April 29 - May 1, 2010. 

And then that was all we heard about it, until today when FRC announced a list of participants ... and that fact that the organization is putting everyone up for free

I hope you are considering joining FRC for our Faith & Family Summit this April 29-May 1, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Now more than ever, we need to join together and uplift each other to stay engaged and continue to stand for faith, family and freedom. Fellowshipping with fellow Christians at our Faith & Family Summit, you will be encouraged, even in this challenging season for our nation.

Event Update: Dr. Ergun Caner has been confirmed as a speaker. The son of a Muslim leader in Turkey, Dr. Caner is President of Liberty Theological Seminary and his energized remarks will give you a unique perspective on the threat of radical Islam.

FRC Board Member and Princeton University Professor Robbie George will also join us to discuss the Manhattan Declaration, a call to Christians to adhere firmly to the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.

Other confirmed speakers include:

* Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
* Gary Bauer, President, American Values
* Pastor Bob Emrich, Leader in Maine marriage victory
* Bishop Harry Jackson, President, High Impact Leadership Coalition
* Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman, House Republican Conference
* John H. Sununu, Former NH Governor and White House Chief of Staff
* Rick Santorum, Former US Senator and FRC Action Board Member

Time is running short. We need to know by Friday, April 1 if you plan to attend, due to a hotel deadline for room reservations.

I encourage you to contact Sara Kontz at 800-225-4008 or sek@frc.org now to reserve your place. Reservations will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited.

FRC will provide complimentary accommodations at the Hyatt on April 29 and 30 and meals during the Summit; you need only to cover transportation costs to and from Washington, D.C. This invitation is non-transferable.

Colorado's Religious Right Seeks Extra First Amendment Protections

I always thought that the First Amendment's free exercise of religion provision provided for, you know, the free exercise of religion.  But apparently that protection is not enough for right-wing groups in Colorado who are now pushing an amendment to the state's constitution that would guarantee them some sort of vague religious liberty exemption, presumably to bolster their belief that they should not be required to comply with or recognize things like hate crimes laws, marriage equality, or anything else that does not reflect their religious views:

A coalition that includes Colorado Family Action and the Colorado Catholic Conference has taken the first step toward amending the state constitution to prohibit the government from infringing on the religious liberty of an individual or a religious organization.

"We have heard in our work in the state that many Catholics and other people of faith are growing uneasy as they sense a loss of religious freedom," said Jennifer Kraska, executive director of the Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's three Catholic dioceses.

Kraska, also a representative of a coalition called Coloradans for Liberty, said a ballot initiative to amend the constitution is being considered because of a general sense that religious freedom is eroding under governmental pressure.

Another coalition representative, Jessica Langfeldt, director of Colorado Family Action, a Focus on the Family affiliate, said taking the first step Monday — filing language with the Colorado Legislative Council — gives the coalition several weeks to determine whether its concerns are widely shared.

The ballot question asks whether the state constitution should include a section stating that government may not burden the right of a person or organization to act or to refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief unless the government has a compelling interest in infringing the act.

"People want the freedom to express their religious beliefs in all aspects of community life, not just in the privacy of their homes," Kraska said.

The Resurrection of Ralph Reed

Religion Dispatches' Sarah Posner has a really good article on Ralph Reed and his miraculous resurrection through his Faith and Freedom Coalition which contains a lot of useful information, a lot of which I was totally unaware of, like the fact that Tim Phillips, which whom Reed c0-founded Century Strategies after leaving the Christian Coalition, is now the president of Tea Party activist firm Americans for Prosperity and that Reed's new organization is apparently cannibalizing his previous organization to create his new organization:

Reed’s FFC is essentially a retread of the Christian Coalition which, under Reed’s leadership, was investigated by Congress, the Federal Election Commission, and ultimately (after Reed’s departure) had its tax-exempt status denied over its engagement in electoral politicking. But Reed, who has managed to survive the Christian Coalition meltdown, his two-timing of evangelicals through his business association with Abramoff, and his 2006 loss in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Georgia, is sifting the remnants of the Christian Coalition infrastructure to build FFC.

O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, and a Christian Coalition of Florida board member, said that the board voted last year to “come under the umbrella of” the FFC. For an organization that was low on funds, said Dozier, it was “a great opportunity that we felt we couldn’t pass up.”

Now Dozier also serves on the FFC board, and says that the affiliation brings “more fundraising capabilities. With Faith and Freedom and with Ralph being known as he is, we can get more conservatives involved and coming to functions that we have in order to raise funds,” both locally and nationally. “It costs a lot of money to print voter guides,” he chuckled.

Also rather amazing is the fact that nobody in the movement is particularly concerned about Reed's Jack Abramoff-related double-dealings:

Yet Reed continues to elicit effusive praise from fellow evangelicals. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody claims FFC “is indeed poised to be a major player in the 2010 and 2012 elections.” About Reed’s association with Abramoff, [Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve] Scheffler told RD, “if you look at the whole explanation it was a nonissue, it was the press that made something out of nothing that was there.” He added that Iowa activists were “excited” that Reed was the master of ceremonies for the Iowa Christian Alliance’s fundraiser this week, at which Rick Santorum was the keynote speaker.

Cindy Costa, the Republican National Committeewoman for South Carolina and former Christian Coalition activist, told RD that Reed is a “fine gentleman” and “helpful to the conservative movement.” After an FFC organizing event in Tennessee last week, Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the FFC “one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years.” And GOP operative Chip Saltsman, forced to pull out of the race for Republican National Committee chair last year after he distributed a “Barack the Magic Negro” CD, added that FFC “has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee.”

But rest assured that even though Reed might be seeking to tie his current activism to the Tea Party movement, he isn't abandoning his Religious Right foundation:

Reed went on to claim that not running the country on a Judeo-Christian moral code is actually contrary to democracy. “So really, when you really get right down to it, James,” he said, “democracy doesn’t really work at all unless there is a citizenry animated by a moral code that derives from their faith in God. That’s what makes the whole thing work because otherwise, the government has to tell everybody what to do.”

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Concerned Women for America: Dedicated to Keeping Guys In Dresses Out of Montana's Swanky Restaurants

I always enjoy local press coverage that features state representatives of national Religious Right groups because the local leaders tend to be a far more open about their motivations and biases.

Case in point is this article about efforts to gather signatures in support of a proposed "Missoula City Council on a proposed ordinance barring discrimination against LGBT folks in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations" that would be the first of its kind in Montana.

Of course, the head of the state chapter of Concerned Women for America opposes it, because if it passes "homosexuals ... will go after people of faith" and "some guy dressed in a dress" would be able to dine at her "swanky restaurant," if she owned one: 

One group has come out in opposition to the Missoula ordinance. Concerned Women for America of Montana state director Patti Kanduch said such legislation will hurt religious business owners who don't want to serve people who are gay or lesbian.

"These homosexuals, once they get this passed, they will go after people of faith whether it's Muslims, Christians, Jews," Kanduch said.

Many churches, such as the University Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Missoula, embrace LGBT folks. But Kanduch said she doesn't believe members of the LGBT community worship alongside her.

"If they are, then they're being disobedient to God," Kanduch said.

The Concerned Women is a national group that professes family values and religious liberty. Kanduch said it counts 1,200 to 1,500 members in Montana. She does not believe only a few people hold the group's views.

"Oh, no, no, no. We're in the majority, people who are against homosexuality," Kanduch said.

She said religious business owners have won battles in court but lost a lot of money in the fight.

She offered an example of someone she would want to keep out of a business.

"If I had a swanky restaurant, I wouldn't want some guy dressed in a dress just because he wanted to dress that way. I should have a right to say, ‘No. That isn't what I want,' " Kanduch said. "I want a man that's a man and a woman that's a woman. But you know what? There's other restaurants that wouldn't mind."

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