Religious Liberty

More Good News For Huckabee: James Robison Is Back In Business

For the last several months we've been noting the gradual re-emergence of James Robison, who was an influential leader back at the founding of the Religious Right but who eventually sort of fell off the radar. 

But in the last year or so, he has suddenly become more and more involved in Religious Right activism and I guess nothing better demonstrates that fact like this article, via AU, reporting that a few months back Robison convened a large gathering of leaders to plot how to defeat President Obama in 2012:

Conservative Christian leaders from across the nation met two months ago near the Dallas airport to strategize about replacing President Barack Obama with someone who matches their agenda – a move that paralleled an effort by Christian leaders in 1979 to defeat then President Jimmy Carter.

About 40 conservative Christian leaders gathered in Dallas on Sept. 8-9 to begin laying the groundwork for a religious-political movement similar to the one that helped Ronald Reagan oust the Baptist Sunday school teacher from the Oval Office. Convened by evangelist James Robison – a key figure in the religious effort 30 years ago to promote Reagan's candidacy – the list of attendees included many of the most prominent Christian evangelists and ministers, including several Southern Baptist leaders.

Southern Baptist leaders attending the meeting included: Richard Land (president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission); Richard Lee (pastor and the editor of The American Patriot's Bible); John Meador (pastor of First Baptist Church of Euless, Texas); and Paige Patterson (president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

Others at the meeting included: Tony Evans (a megachurch pastor in Texas); Father Joseph Fessio (founder and editor of Ignatius Press); Craig Groeschel (pastor of LifeChurch.tv); Miles McPherson (a megachurch pastor in California who spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention); Johnnie Moore (a vice president at Liberty University who defended the school's decisions to have Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich as recent speakers); Tom Mullins (a megachurch pastor in Florida); Doug Napier (legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund); Dino Rizzo (a megachurch pastor in Louisiana); Dave Roever (an evangelist who prayed at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally); Mark Rutland (president of Oral Roberts University); David Stone (a megachurch pastor in Kentucky); and Stu Weber (a megachurch pastor in Oregon).

Several conservative Christian leaders highly active in politics attended the meeting, including: Stephen Broden (a pastor and Republican politician in Texas); Keith Butler (a pastor and Republican politician in Michigan); Maggie Gallagher (a conservative columnist who received tens of thousands of dollars for her work from the George W. Bush administration); Jim Garlow (chairman of Newt Gingrich's organization, Renewing American Leadership); Harry Jackson (pastor of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C.); Gene Mills (executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum); and Tony Perkins (president of the Family Research Council).

Some attendees have been guests on Glenn Beck's program on Fox News (including Broden, Garlow, Lee, McPherson, Mullins, Robison, Roever and Stone), and several were involved with his "Restoring Honor" rally (including Jackson, Land, Lee, Gallagher, Garlow and Roever).

Three of the attendees at the meeting have been under investigation since 2007 by Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Baptist from Iowa, for perhaps violating IRS tax-exempt rules. Those at the meeting included televangelists Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyer.

Other individuals helped plan the September meeting but were unable to attend. They included: Jerry Falwell Jr. (president of Liberty University); Jack Graham (a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention); O.S. Hawkins (head of the SBC's Guidestone Financial Resources); Jack Hayford (president of Foursquare International); and author Ravi Zacharias.

I should point out, also, that Robison's return can only be good news for Mike Huckabee, as Robison was his mentor back in the 1970s, leading Huckabee to drop out of seminary so he could go to work for Robison as his director of communications.

If Robison and crew are looking to replace Obama "with someone who matches their agenda," Huckabee seems like a perfect fit.

FRC Blasts Cao, Warns Other Republicans Not To Support Gays

Last week we noted that, after having endorsed Joseph Cao in 2008, the Family Research Council turned around and ran ads against him this year because he was insufficiently anti-gay.

Today, Cao told Warren Throckmorton that he thought FRC's actions were "inexcusable," and FRC responded with a statement blasting Cao and warning every other Republican that they would face similar campaigns if they don't support FRC's anti-gay agenda: 

First, FRC Action is not a Republican organization. We are a conservative Christian organization that advocates for the family based upon biblical values and truths. Many of the problems we face today in America are the result of Republican leadership.

When Cao first ran in 2008, he sought my support and promised to be a conservative, morally based vote for the family. I endorsed him in that race and because of the unique situation with Jefferson under indictment and no other viable Democrat in the race, Cao won. In the last two years he has amassed one of the worst voting records of any Republican in Congress on our issues. By the way, the homosexual community masquerading as Republicans in New Orleans decried our ad against Cao because he was pro-life. Cao was at best a pro-life vote, under pressure.

Cao was the lone Republican who voted for the government takeover of healthcare when it first passed the House. A lot of time and energy was spent on getting him to vote against the measure when it came back to the House from the Senate with taxpayer funding of abortion included. It he was truly pro-life, he would have been leading the charge against President Obama’s plan; instead he was meeting with him in the White House. Secondly, we are not a single issue organization that only focuses on the life issue. We look at where Members stand on life, marriage, family and religious liberty. Cao’s score on FRC Action’s vote scorecard was 62, lowest of the Louisiana House delegation. His score was lower than Charlie Melancon, the one Louisiana Democrat in the House.

Cao repeatedly voted for key provisions of the homosexual agenda including: Hate Crimes, the overturning of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” even though military leaders said don’t do it. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when he recently helped the Log Cabin Republicans (homosexual Republicans) raise money for their political operation. It was the Log Cabin Republicans that recently filed a lawsuit against the military in an attempt to force them to allow open homosexuality in the military, which military leaders have said could potentially undermine their ability to accomplish their mission. The Log Cabin Republicans succeeded at the district court level and for one day the military was forced to change their policy and even had to recruit homosexuals. That case is currently on appeal.

I also wanted to send a very clear message to Republicans across the country; if you take a stand against the family, we will take a stand against you. These squishy Republicans need to know that we will come after them, just like the Democrats.

Of course, Cao wasn't alone in attending the Log Cabin fundraiser - he was joined by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Sen.John Cornyn (R-TX), and Rep, Pete Sessions (R-TX).

I guess these GOP members of Congress should all expect FRC to run ads against them as well? 

How Times Have Changed

In 2008, the Family Research Council endorsed Joseph Cao for Congress:

Today FRC Action PAC is endorsing Joseph Cao for Congress representing the second district of Louisiana.

"Joseph Cao will be a true friend of the family. We need representatives who will fight to defend the family against the radical leadership in the House of Representatives," said Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action PAC. "I feel confident in Joseph Cao's ability to do just that.

"Joseph Cao's amazing life story is a testament to the high-caliber Congressman he would be. The second district of Louisiana deserves the type of leadership and integrity that he brings.

"We will need many pro-family representatives in the next Congress and FRC Action PAC believes that Joseph Cao will be a true advocate for the issues that best uphold and strengthen families. We are proud to support his candidacy."

Cao won his race and is now running for re-election ... and FRC is running ads against him because he turned out to be insufficiently anti-gay:

The conservative Family Research Council Action PAC has launched a last-minute radio ad campaign against Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-New Orleans, for his support of gay rights ... Cao's "record is dismal on our issues," Tony Perkins, the former Louisiana legislator who heads the Washington-based FRC, said Saturday.

...

"Who is Rep. Joseph Cao representing in Washington?" the FRC ad asks. "Cao has repeatedly voted for extra protections for homosexuals at the cost of religious liberty. Cao voted to use the military to advance the radical social agendas of homosexual activists and he voted for a so-called hate crimes bill that places your personal liberties at jeopardy."

Cao co-sponsored both the Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009 and House legislation to repeal the policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces, known as "don't ask, don't tell."

"I believe it is a human rights violation to impose government-sanctioned penalties on a group of people just because of their sexual orientation, just as it would be a human rights violation to impose penalties on a group because of its religious affiliation or race," Cao said. "I will continue to fight for the protection of human rights for all people."

Pray and Act Ends With a Whimper

When we first learned of the "Pray and ACT" effort which sought to link 7 Mountains Dominionism with election-oriented prayer and fasting, we were pretty surprised by the number of high profile Religious Right leaders who had signed on to the effort, like Chuck Colson, Mike Huckabee, Harry Jackson, Richard Land, Maggie Gallagher and various others.

In addition to orchestrating forty days of prayer and fasting in an effort to save this nation by electing "candidates who affirm the sanctity of life in all stages and conditions, the integrity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and respect for conscience," Pray and ACT organizers also hosted a series of events that became less and less ambitious with every successive outing. 

The first of these events was a two-hour live webcast that featured Jim Garlow, James Robison, Samuel Rodriquez, Jordan Lorence., Lance Wallnau, Tony Perkins, and Richard Land speaking before a tiny crowd at a church in Washington, DC.  

The second event was another webcast, but this one featured little more than pre-recorded interviews with various activists who were attending the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit.

And the forty days of prayer and fasting was supposed to culminate with an event held at "the steps of the Lincoln Memorial" on October 30 ...  but instead if turned out to be nothing more than a forty-five minute webchat between Jim Garlow and Chuck Colson:

I don't know about you, but when Pray and ACT organizers rolled out their agenda earlier this year, I was expecting a bit more. 

Richard Land: Political Prognosticator Extraordinaire

Back during the last Republican presidential primary, Richard Land could not stop talking about how Fred Thompson was a "Southern-fried Reagan" who possessed "a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability," while gushing that to "see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint.”

Of course, Thompson's presidential campaign ended up being monumental bust ... but that hasn't stopped Land from fancying himself a political prognosticator and offering up inane "predictions" about how Hillary Clinton is going to resign as Secretary of State in order to launch a primary challenge against President Obama:

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, believes the American people are unhappy with the Obama agenda, and he predicts that a GOP tsunami is coming.

"I think what you're going to see in November is a massive backlash saying, 'No -- we want to restore this country to a country where we understand obligations and responsibilities, and we're not going to focus so much on rights and privileges,'" Land suggests. "I think that there is a tsunami coming."

But even if the Democratic Party gets thrashed, he does not think Obama will moderate his left-wing ideology.

"If this is as bad as I think it's going to be, I'll make a prediction for you: Within 30 days, Hillary Clinton will resign as secretary of state, and she will shortly after that announce that she's running for president. She will say that Barack Obama abandoned the Israelis, [but] she will not; she will support Israel, and...the only thing that stands between the Democratic Party and a political debacle is Hillary Clinton," the ERLC president suggests.

Election Day is November 2, which means that, according to Land, Clinton will resign by December 2 ... so let's check back in then and see how Land's prediction is faring, shall we? 

Pray and ACT Prayer Targets: Raise Up Christians, Hold Back Satan, And Keep The Ungodly Out of Office

I have been covering the various election-oriented prayer efforts that are currently being carried out by Religious Right groups, including Pray and ACT which consists of not only 40 days of prayer, but also 40 days of fasting.

And to make this grueling process somewhat easier, Pray and ACT and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission have produced a day-by-day prayer guide [PDF] for participants.  For instance, on October 17 they are to pray for the "Sanctity of Human Life":

Ask God to...

• Convict public officials to protect and serve every member of our society including the most marginalized, voiceless, and vulnerable

• Raise up leaders to end our nation’s culture of death and recognize the equal value of all people

• Give our nation the compassion it needs to assist women struggling with problem pregnancies

• Raise up leaders to protect the weak and the vulnerable from violent attack with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination

• Help our world leaders develop a consistent ethic of love and life for all people and all circumstances

• Convict the scientific community to end the barbaric practice of embryo destructive stem-cell research

• Help you put an end to our nation’s abortion-on-demand policies

And the next day they are to pray for "God's Design for Marriage":

Ask God to…

• Raise up leaders who will protect God’s design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman

• Convict Christians to uphold the institution of marriage and model its true meaning

• Help the church instill in young people a sound understanding of the importance of marriage

• Cause our nation to understand the destructive effects of redefining marriage

• Help the church engage in compassionate redemptive ministry to those struggling with same-sex attraction

• Help the church minister to those struggling in their marriages

• Cause our nation’s leaders to enact laws and policies that encourage and strengthen marriage

And then, as we get closer and closer to Election Day, the prayer targets become more focused on getting Christians elected to office, with prayers to "prevent Satan from blinding the judgment of our public officials," and "give Christians who run for public office favor in the eyes of the electorate," and "confound the counsel of candidates who don’t support biblical values," and "discourage ungodly people from running for public office."

And finally, just before Election Day, activists are enouraged to pray for the "wisdom to elect the
best officials" and realize that "God’s judgment or blessing on a nation is related directly to the morality of its citizens": 

Ask God to...

• Send the strong convicting presence of His Spirit throughout the nation

• Raise up leaders who will advance and support God-honoring policies, especially policies protecting life

• Help you know who He wants you to vote for in the upcoming election

• Expose to public scrutiny people who are working to undermine God-honoring laws and morality, like efforts to undermine God’s design for marriage

• Convince Christians that they need to be involved in the life of the nation both politically and socially

• Confound the plans of the enemies of the United States.

• Help the United States continue to be the world’s leader in promoting freedom for all people, especially religious freedom.

Religious Right Thrilled With Its Few Scraps From The GOP

For the last several weeks, Religious Right leaders had been warning Republicans that social issues had better be included in the agenda GOP leaders were going to lay out for the party moving forward.

House leaders have finally released their "Pledge to America," so how did the social conservatives fare

[T]he “Pledge” turned out to have little of substance for the value voters movement.

“We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values,” it said in the introduction.

The only specifics that followed in the subsequent 21 pages, however, were a promise to “permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment,” and to pass conscience clauses into law for physicians and medical workers.

So you'd think that the Religious Right would be livid that the GOP so blatantly simply threw them a few superficial bones in order to keep them quite ... but you'd be wrong, because they are overjoyed with the few scraps they received:

“We are pleased that the Republican leadership saw the wisdom of honoring our demand for a clear statement of commitment to life, marriage, and the free and full participation of religious believers and faith-based institutions in our public life.

The American Principles Project, Susan B. Anthony List, American Values and Let Freedom Ring submitted more than 20,000 petitions. Supporters and signers of the Manhattan Declaration made thousands of phone calls. The GOP leadership clearly got the message.

Once again, social conservatives have proven that they are the conscience of the party. They have stood up for the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the union of husband and wife; and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.”

And of course Ralph Reed is declaring victory as well

House Republicans rightly rejected the idea that Tea Party issues like cutting spending and delimiting government are somehow at odds with the pro-family agenda of honoring marriage and unborn life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pro-family candidates are the most likely to be fiscal conservatives, and Tea Party candidates are the most likely to be pro-life. The agenda embraces time-honored values like traditional marriage and ending taxpayer-funded abortion as well as lower taxes and reduced spending. The message was unmistakable: we will not be divided by a false choice between fiscal responsibility and strong families. We will fight for both, and indeed we must do both if we are to restore America’s promise.

This is absolutely laughable - there is one throwaway mention of marriage and one passing mention of religious liberty in 21-pages of text and yet the Religious Right is acting like it pulled off a major coup.

Value Voter Recap: We're All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)

The so-called Values Voter Summit, organized by the Family Research Council and sponsored by a number of right-wing groups, brought more than 2,000 activists (their count) to Washington D.C. for two solid days of speeches, workshops, networking, and a chance to spend time with others who passionately hate President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. Addressing the crowd were a number of GOP presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Mike Pence (who eked out a narrow victory over Huckabee in the straw poll). Not surprisingly, conference speakers echoed the themes heard at the smaller Faith and Freedom conference convened by Ralph Reed just one week earlier.

Here were the top themes emerging from these Religious Right political conferences.
 
1) We’re All Tea Partiers Now (Including God)
 
The Faith and Freedom conference and Values Voter Summit signaled the Religious Right’s full embrace of (or effort to co-opt) the Tea Party movement and its activists’ anti-Washington energies. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a superstar in both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, railed at Tea Party critics: “If you are scared of the Tea Party movement, you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson, who penned our mission statement [the Declaration of Independence].”
 
The events were also designed to attack the notion that the Tea Party movement is, or should be, focused only on economic issues and not on moral ones. This is more than the ongoing effort to solidify a working electoral partnership among fiscal, social, and national security conservatives. This is an ideological campaign against the very idea that one can legitimately be a fiscal conservative without embracing the Religious Right’s “family values” agenda on issues such as legal abortion and marriage equality. At the Values Voter Summit, there was little patience for libertarians who consider themselves economically conservative but socially liberal. Sen. Jim DeMint, greeted as a folk-hero for his success at backing Tea Party challengers to establishment GOP candidates, took on the idea directly, saying “you can’t be a true fiscal conservative if you do not understand the value of a culture that is based on values.” 
 
Others echoed the theme. A Heritage Foundation video declared that faith is necessary for liberty. Rep Mike Pence, the dark-horse winner of the summit’s straw poll, said America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles. Newt Gingrich declared that activists have to go back to making the moral case for free enterprise, not the economic case. David Limbaugh decried “economic justice,” which he called a leftist euphemism for “confiscation.” 
 
At a Values Voter Summit panel on the Tea Party movement, two activists described their work as being inspired in part by instructions they received from God in the early morning hours, like Glenn Beck; one insisted that her activism was not just about taxes but about getting America to turn back to God.
 
2) Nothing is more important than the 2010 and 2012 elections.
 
Nearly every speaker said that the 2010 election is the most important in our lifetime. Speakers insisted that President Obama, his administration, and Democratic congressional leaders are not only wrong, they are evil and are out to destroy the American experiment in limited government and individual liberty.  It is simply not possible to overstate the level of anger and hostility directed toward Obama (described as an America-hating narcissistic Marxist), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. 
 
Activists were told they must fast, pray, and work hard to defeat Democrats this November. The Family Research Council urged people to visit the website of Pray and A.C.T, a campaign led by Jim Garlow, who has been a rising star on the Religious Right since leading religious organizing on behalf of California’s anti-gay Prop 8. Ralph Reed is promising to share with local activists a massive new database of faith-based and fiscally conservative voters that he is building. 
 
Activists were also told that they must plan to keep sacrificing their time, energy and money for the next two years to make sure that Obama is defeated in 2012. Former Sen. Rick Santorum told activists not to expect dramatic improvements even if they win big in November: things won’t really change for the better as long as the White House is in Obama’s hands. Activists were warned that these two elections may be the last chance to stop the nation’s slide toward socialism and the end of America as we know it.
 
Right-wing speakers are optimistic about the possibility of delivering both the House and Senate into Republican hands and electing a conservative Republican president in 2012. FRC’s PAC held a fundraiser Friday night for Christine O’Donnell, the new Tea Party-backed GOP Senate candidate from Delaware, and other like-minded candidates.   Ralph Reed said that voter registration and focused turnout campaigns being waged by his and other right-wing groups would turn this from a good election cycle for Republicans into a historically sweeping one. And there’s particular excitement that Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio could be the face of the GOP’s future: right-wing strategists see him as Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama rolled into one appealing, Latino-vote-getting package.
 
3) Repealing Health Care Reform the Top Legislative Priority
 
According to several Values Voter Summit speakers, health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama wasn’t really about health care at all. It was about extending the power of the federal government into tyrannical realms. Repealing “Obamacare” before it fully goes into effect is the top legislative priority of movement leaders. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was one of several speakers who called the legislation unconstitutional, saying that if the legislation was allowed to stand, it would effectively spell the end of any limits on federal power. 
 
4) Muslims Replace Immigrants as a Top Target
 
While previous conferences have portrayed unchecked illegal immigration as the most dire threat to America, this year’s speakers picked up on the right-wing generated furor over a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan – the inaccurately dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque” – to make repeated bitter denunciations of Islam. Immigration was not completely ignored: Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in a list of complaints, denounced the White House for being an administration “whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona,” and the Heritage Foundation sponsored a workshop on “The Real Cost of Illegal Immigration.” But the real energy was in attacking Islam, which was a primary focus of remarks by Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer.
 
5) Pursuit of Happiness With an Asterisk: Gays Need Not Apply
 
Not surprisingly, all the talk about individual liberty being at the core of our national identity did not extend to the freedom of gay and lesbian Americans to pursue happiness by marrying the person they love. Several speakers exhorted attendees to help mobilize conservative voters in Iowa to turn out for upcoming retention elections and vote against Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled that denying gay couples the freedom to marriage violated the state’s constitution. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who insisted that there is no confusion about what is right in the sight of God and what is evil in the sight of God, said that politicians who support, defend, and promote “counterfeits” to marriage (which include not only marriage equality but also civil unions and domestic partnerships) are doing something evil and deserve condemnation. Fischer repeated Religious Right claims that LGBT equality and religious liberty are incompatible: “we are going to have to choose between the homosexual agenda and religious liberty because we simply cannot have both.”
 
The federal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law which forbids gay members of the Armed Forces for serving openly and honestly, was also high on speakers’ minds. Sen. James Inhofe urged people to call their senators in advance of a scheduled vote on a defense authorization bill that would include language to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as well as language that would, in his words, turn military hospitals into abortion clinics. 

Perkins, Jackson, Engle Team Up to Oppose DADT Repeal

In about one hour, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Lou Engle and others are joining forces for a webcast opposing the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

Family Research Council President and Marine veteran Tony Perkins will join Bishop Harry Jackson, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks and African American pastors from five states at a news conference Monday at 2 p.m. ET in Washington, D.C. The speakers will address religious liberty concerns on the eve of the U.S. Senate vote to overturn the law against the practice of open homosexual behavior in the military.

WHO: Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council

Bishop Harry Jackson, Chairman, High Impact Leadership Coalition

Pastor Aubrey Shines, Tampa, FL

Pastor Christopher Brooks, Detroit, MI

Bishop Leon Benjamin, Richmond, VA

Reverend Dean Nelson, Washington, DC

Reverend Lou Engle, President, The Call

Austin Nimocks, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund

WHERE: Watch Online: www.frc.org

Or in-person: FRC Media Center, 801 G. Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

WHEN: Monday, September 20, 2010, 2 PM ET

We Rest Our Case: Bryan Fischer Tries to Defend His Bigoted Record

Today, People For the American Way issued a statement calling out all those conservative leaders who will attending the upcoming Values Voter Summit and sharing the stage with notorious bigot Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and chronicled the myriad of outrageously offensive things Fischer has said about gays and Muslims and others.

Needless to say, Fischer is not particularly pleased with our statement and dedicated a portion of his radio program today to "defending" himself ... and in doing so, only helped to make our point even clearer.

Fischer took particular exception to our point that "any candidate thinking seriously of running for president in 2012 should think twice about standing alongside a man who has called for the deportation of all Muslims in America," by claiming that he did no such thing (but, of course, he did when he claimed that Muslim citizens were, simply by being virtue of being Muslim, guilty of treason against the US.)

Fischer's "defense" is that he simply wants to deny entry to all Muslims because we are doing them a favor since they could not possibly handle or tolerate our freedoms:

"Any candidate thinking seriously of running for president in 2012 should think twice about standing alongside a man who has called for the deportation of all Muslims in America."

That, as a matter of fact is not true. What I has said is that if Muslims are here and they have citizenship status, we shouldn't do anything to them. They have citizenship status, it might have been a mistake to give it to them, but they have it and we need to respect it because we uphold the rule of law.

What I was talking about is when you have Muslims who are applying for permanent residency, for permanent legal residency, or applying for citizenship, my recommendation is that instead of granting them citizenship, we help them return to their homeland, to their native country, we help repatriate them to their country of origin where they can have the freedom to be Muslims without having to chafe against our religious liberty and our freedom of speech and first-class citizenship status for wives and for women.

This has got to be awkward for them, it's got to be painful for them, it's got to be uncomfortable for them to see so many people enjoying the fruit of Christianity, its liberty and its freedom, its respect for the individual, its respect for the freedom of individuals to think and make decisions for themselves, its got to chew them up because it is so the polar opposite of what Islam is all about.

So I say we are doing them a favor by repatriating them to their homeland where an entire nation shares their values.

We also pointed out that Fischer demanded a ban on Muslims serving in the US military which he "defended" by saying that he was merely telling the truth about how all Muslims are required to kill Christians and Jews:

So if telling the truth about Muslim service-members is an insult, then truth is now the new insult, truth is now the new hate speech.

All I have said about Muslims in the military is that their god commands them to kill us and it does not make sense to me that we would allow people to enlist in the body that is designed to protect our security and enable us to sleep peacefully in our beds at night, we should not invite into our military - the very organization that is supposed to protect us - invite into our military those who have a solemn and sacred obligation to kill us and kill their fellow soldiers.

Finally, Fischer explains that he doesn't "hate" gays or Muslims - he just hates the horrible, empty, disease-filled lives they lead:

 I am pro-gay; I am anti-homosexuality. I am pro-Muslim; I am anti-Islam. 

I am for homosexuals because I want them to be delivered from the bondage and the death sentence of homosexual conduct. So I am against homosexual behavior, I am against homosexual expression, I am against homosexual conduct because I want to see the people that are trapped in that lifestyle, I want to see them set free.

And the same is true when it comes to Islam: I am for Muslims; I am against-Islam. And, as I mentioned before, the primary victims of Islam are Muslims. I mean, it's got to break your heart when you visualize the life that these people lead in Muslim-dominated countries.

There is darkness, there is tyranny, there is repression, there is hatred, there is a complete absence of freedom, a complete absence of liberty, women are second-class citizens, they're considered as property, as chattel who can be beaten by their husbands according to Allah, according to the Holy Quran, according to the Prophet.

I mean the poverty, and the disease, and the emptiness and the sterility of life in a Muslim-dominated land, it ought to break our hearts. And that is why I am against Islam because I see what it does to people, I see what it does to cultures, I see what it does to entire nations when it is allowed to take root and flourish.

So I am pro-Muslims, but anti-Islam. I am pro-homosexual, I am anti-homosexuality. 

Let me point out again that this is Fischer defense against charges of being an anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigot.

So let us ask again why conservative leaders like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, Bob McDonnell, Newt Gingrich, and Michele Bachmann are so willing to share a stage with this man and attend an event being co-sponsored by the American Family Association, the group that has given Fischer a national platform?

Authors of Manhattan Declaration Put Pressure On GOP

The other day we noted how the Religious Right was beginning to grow alarmed at the possibility that Republicans were going to focus solely on economic issues as they set out their electoral strategy and governing agenda, ignoring things like abortion and marriage because, as Haley Barbour says, talking about social issues just means the GOP is "using up valuable time and resources that can be used to talk to people about what they care about."

Well, the fear appears to be quite real, prompting the architects of the Manhattan Declaration to send out an email warning that "some high-profile conservative leaders have in recent weeks weakened their support of traditional marriage" and urging activists to contact Republican leaders and demand that they refuse to "backtrack on the Republican Party's commitment to life, liberty, and traditional marriage":

We have just learned that the Republican congressional leadership--feeling supremely confident that they can win back Congress campaigning only on economic issues--seems poised to promote a mid-term election agenda that does not even mention the party's historical commitment to life, marriage, and religious liberty.

The Manhattan declaration is a non-partisan movement of Christians from all denominations and political persuasions. Our fidelity to Scripture, however, compels us to speak on public issues which affect our most fundamental moral commitments--as well as the common good of our nation.

We long for the day when both of our great political parties embrace a culture of life, a defense of the traditional family, and a commitment to religious liberty. For the one party which has in recent years officially supported these issues to now retreat would be a dreadful and highly symbolic act.

So we urge you in the strongest terms possible to talk to or e-mail your congressmen and senators, Democrat and Republican alike, urging them to support the Manhattan Declaration.

We also ask you to e-mail the offices of Republican House leader John Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor urging them not to backtrack on the Republican Party's commitment to life, liberty, and traditional marriage. Or you can call Rep. Boehner's office at (202) 225-4000, or Rep. Cantor's office at (202) 225-0197.

Some high-profile conservative leaders have in recent weeks weakened their support of traditional marriage. We know the supporters of so-called gay "marriage" are well-financed and aggressive. But this struggle within the Republican Party tells us we've got to do a better job of making our case.

Use the arguments so well articulated in the Manhattan Declaration. And remember, your job is not just to sign a statement or even get others to do so, important as that is; it is for you to become an advocate.

This alarming news has been verified to be true. But if you act right now, we believe there is a good chance that the Republican Party will stand by its principled positions.

God bless you, and continue to follow the Manhattan Declaration website for reports on this issue and other resources.

Respectfully,

Chuck Colson
Dr. Robert George
Dr. Timothy George

Engle, Huckabee, Garlow Issue a "Call to Conscience"

Last year, Lou Engle announced that he was no longer willing to be "silenced" by the political restrictions placed upon his organization The Call by its 501c3 status and so he starting a 501c4 arm that would be known as The Call to Action.

But that was pretty much the last we ever heard about The Call to Action ... at least until today when it resurfaced with a new name - The Call to Conscience - and a new video featuring Mike Huckabee and the voice of Jim Garlow:

At the moment, the website consists only of statement from Engle blasting the Prop 8 ruling, but as we noted yesterday, Garlow, Huckabee and Engle are all deeply involved in the "Pray and ACT" effort aimed at getting conservative Christians to vote "in all elections only for candidates who affirm the sanctity of life in all stages and conditions, the integrity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and respect for conscience."

Land Calls Mormonism "The Fourth Abrahamic Faith" While The SBC Calls It a "Cult"

Yesterday I wrote a post highlighting a recent column by Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in which he blasted the idea that Evangelical Christians would support a Mormon like Glenn Beck as he called the nation to revival. 

Moore called it a "scandal" and shortly after it appeared online Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Tweeted his support for Moore's article, which got me wondering about Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, because I know that Land has been among those working closely with Beck in recent weeks:

A few weeks before organizing a massive rally on the Mall that had the feel of a religious revival, Glenn Beck sought the blessing of some of the country's most prominent conservative Christian leaders.

The Fox talk show host wanted their support as he shifted from political commentary to a more spiritual message, he told the group of about 20.

This is where God is leading me, Beck declared, according to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who was there, along with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

Land said most in the group found Beck's faith genuine and heartfelt, although not everyone agreed to embrace him publicly.

"We walked back to the hotel after and said: 'That was extraordinary,' " Land said of his conversation with Dobson after the dinner in Manhattan. "I've never heard a cultural figure of that popularity talking that overtly about his faith. He sounded like Billy Graham."

Today, Land sat down with NPR's Robert Siegel and disputed Beck's claims that President Obama's Christian faith is unrecognizable while also claiming that though Mormonism is not a Christian religion, it is an "Abrahamic faith": 

SIEGEL: Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Is that brand of Christianity as distant or more so from yours than the National Council of Churches mainline Protestantism you...

Dr. LAND: Probably more so.

SIEGEL: More so.

Dr. LAND: And look, Glenn knows this. He said, look, I'm a Mormon. Most Christians don't think that I'm a Christian. And so, you know, I'll quote the pope, when he's talking about liberation theology.

I do not think Mormonism is an orthodox Christian faith, with a small O. I think perhaps the most charitable way for an evangelical Christian to look at Mormonism is to look at Mormonism as the fourth Abrahamic faith.

SIEGEL: Not a Christian faith.

Dr. LAND: Not a Christian faith.

Really? That is pretty amazing that Land would place Mormonism on par with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, especially considering that the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board labels Mormonism a "cult" [PDF]:

"I'll Lose Half My Congregation"

I don't really have anything insightful to say about this, but I just wanted to mention how odd it is that I keep hearing this same line from Religious Right leaders claiming to have been in some meeting or other gathering at which leaders where trying to create a plan of political action when one (always unnamed) pastor said they just cannot participate because they "would lose half their congregation."

I have heard this several times in recent weeks and months, but only noticed how odd it was today when I heard both Glenn Beck and Chuck Colson say it.

Beck claims that someone said it during a meeting he attended with James Dobson and James Robison and others where they all decided to come together and take a stand with Beck to defend religious liberty with the exception of "one person [who] said 'I can't, I'll lose half my congregation" (scroll ahead to around the 55 second mark):

Chuck Colson uses the exact same line in this recent video urging people to sign the Manhattan Declaration, claiming "a megachurch pastor in a major American city was asked by a colleague to sign the Manhattan Declaration, his answer was 'I can't, I'll lose half my congregation" (scroll ahead to the one minute mark):

Now what are the chances that two different religious leaders in two completely different situations gave exactly the same explanation as to why they couldn't support these separate political efforts?

And does Beck really expect us to believe that there was one religious leader attending a meeting with the likes of himself, Robison, and Dobson who declared himself unable to take a political stand out of fear of alienating half his congregation? What exactly is a person like that doing at a meeting with professional Religious Right activists in the first place? 

Fischer Blasts Beck For Siding With "People Who Want to Use the Anus for Sex"

The AFA's Bryan Fischer rips into Glenn Beck for not opposing gay marriage, accusing him of siding with "people who want to use the anus for sex" over God-fearing Christians: 

Glenn, Glenn, Glenn: if special rights are given to people just because they want to use the alimentary canal for sexual purposes, no social conservative will be able to criticize homosexual behavior on biblical or moral grounds without running the risk of legal punishment.

Goodbye freedom of speech and goodbye freedom of religion. You, Glenn, will have aided and abetted those who are out to destroy two of the inalienable rights God has given to men, and you don’t think that’s a threat to this country? Wake up and smell the toxins, my friend.

We must choose between the homosexual agenda and religious liberty, because it is impossible to have both. Every advance of the homosexual agenda comes at the expense of our first liberty, the very first right enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the right to freedom of religious expression. You have chosen the side of suppression and tyranny over the light of liberty.

...

It’s not too late to issue a mea culpa and come back into the light and be a vigorous advocate once again for the truth about marriage and the family. You have done a noble thing in calling this country back to God through your “Divine Destiny” evening at the Kennedy Center and your “Restoring Honor” event at the Lincoln Memorial.

You have done a noble thing on your radio and television programs by repeatedly calling us back to our founding history and to our foundational values as a country.

But Glenn, our “Divine Destiny” as a nation does not include societal approval for people who want to use the anus for sex. The “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” don’t endorse such behavior. And neither should you.

Have I mentioned that Fischer is a confirmed speaker at the upcoming Values Voter Summit along with Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and Gov. Bob McDonnell?

Focus on the Family: Dedicated to Defending The Rights of "People of all Faiths," Just Not Muslims

Earlier this month, just as the right-wing anti-mosque hysteria was getting whipped up, Focus on the Family posted a video in which Stuart Shepard and Bruce Hausknecht complained about how municipalities were discriminating against churches using zoning laws:

Shepard: What does this tell us about the state of religious freedom in the United States?

Hausknecht: Well, we're seeing first a hostility toward religion. You would think in this day and age of tolerance that there would be tolerance for religious views, religious people. There is not. We're seeing it in the zoning cases, we're seeing it in the schools. That is a definite wake-up call for people of all faiths to stand up and protect their rights.

At the time, Focus was one of the few Religious Right groups that had not yet taken a position on Park 51, so I wondered if the organization would defend the right of Muslims to build the Islamic Center, especially in light of the organization's plea for "people of all faiths" to wake up and protect their religious freedoms.

So I know it will come as a shock to you all to learn that Focus' concerns for the rights of "people of all faiths" does not, in fact, apply to Muslims:

During CitizenLink's weekly webcast, Tom Minnery said, "Nobody is suggesting that the brand of Islam practiced by the owners of this mosque [is] going to lead to more terrorist attacks. But for Heaven's sake, in the name of all that is decent and in the name of common sense, build it elsewhere."

He said the group had the right to build, but he questioned the prudence of doing so. "Is it dishonoring to the 3,000 people who gave their lives to have this mosque which, in some minds, represents a similar religious belief that caused the terrorists to do what they did?" said Minnery.

Stuart Shepard, host of the webcast, noted that this position is a departure from Minnery's previous positions on religious liberty.

"You have spent a lot of time talking about religious freedom. And you work for Alliance Defense Fund quite a bit helping them fight for the rights of people, for religious freedom. It is quite a turn for you to say that this is not the right location for religious freedom to be expressed," said Shepard.

"Well, it is indeed," said Minnery.

Reed Unveils More Speakers at Faith And Freedom Conference

Earlier this month I wrote about Ralph Reed's upcoming Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing to be held in Washington, D.C., September 9-11 which Reed is calling the "the political equivalent of NFL minicamp."

Today, Reed sent out an email urging activists to register and provided the first look at the line-up of scheduled speakers he has landed:   

  • Gary Bauer, President, American Values
  • Ken Blackwell, Senior Fellow of Family Empowerment, Family Research Council
  • Glen Bolger, Political strategist and pollster
  • Jim Bopp, Legal Counsel, Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center
  • Herman Cain, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Tucker Carlson, Political correspondent
  • Teresa Collett, Congressional candidate (R-MN 4th district)
  • Kellyanne Conway, President and CEO, Women Trend
  • S.E. Cupp, Author, “Losing Our Religion”
  • Majorie Dannenfelser, President , Susan B. Anthony List
  • Brian Donahue, Founder, CRAFT Media/Digital
  • Erick Erickson, Founder, RedState.com
  • Mindy Finn, E- Media strategist
  • J. Randy Forbes, Congressmen (R-VA-4th district)
  • John Fund, Political journalist and conservative columnist
  • Dr. Jim Garlow, Coauthor, “Cracking Da Vinci's Code”
  • Tim Goeglein, Vice President, Focus on the Family
  • Ed Goeas, Political strategist and pollster
  • Deal Hudson, Director, Morley Institute for Church and Culture
  • Richard Land, President, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Anna Little, Congressional candidate (R-NJ-6th district)
  • Dana Loesch, Conservative radio talk show host
  • Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Leader
  • Jack St. Martin, Partner, Orange Hat Group
  • Jason Mattera, Political Blogger and Author of “Obama  Zombies”
  • Thaddeus McCotter, Congressman  (R-MI-11th district)
  • Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia
  • Mark Meckler, Tea Party Leader
  • Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform
  • Star Parker, Congressional candidate (R-CA-37th district)
  • Tony Perkins, President, the Family Research Council
  • Tom Price, Congressmen (R-GA-6th district)
  • Karl Rove, Sr. Advisor, White House
  • Patrick Ruffini, E-Media Strategist
  • Chip Saltsman, Former Campaign Manager, Mike Huckabee for President
  • Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
  • Tim Scott, Congressional candidate (R-SC-1st district)
  • Orit Sklar, Executive Director, Fulton County Republican Party
  • Mark Smith, President, Ohio Christian University
  • Matt Smith, Priest
  • Bill Stephens, President, Florida Faith & Freedom Coalition
  • Jim Talent, Former U.S. Senators
  • Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow , Heritage Foundation
  • Jackie Walorski, Congressional candidate (R-IN-2nd district)
  • Lynn Westmoreland, United States Congressman (R-GA-3rd district)

Interestingly, the names Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabe are not on this list despite the fact that Reed has been using them in his promos for weeks now: 

FRCs Latest Prayer Targets: Values Voter Summit, Prop 8, and All Things Islam

At regular intervals, the Family Research Council sends out updates to its "Prayer Team" listing a variety of political issues that team members should make the target of their prayers.

A recent update called upon FRC's prayer activists to focus on the upcoming election because for too long America has elected politicians who lead "flagrantly godless personal lives" and "pass ungodly laws":

The American electoral process has the potential to produce qualified candidates, yet year after year we elect men and women who enter public office and pass ungodly laws. Some lead unwholesome, even flagrantly godless personal lives. Yet far too many of our pastors and Christian leaders have remained uninvolved, failing even to teach and preach about responsible Christian citizenship ... It is our duty to select leaders who respect the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage and family, and religious liberty and who oppose pernicious efforts to advance abortion, sexual immorality, socialism, profligate government spending, and now, Muslim Sharia law. Praying, fasting, speaking out and taking extraordinary action during the next 81 days, Christians must follow biblical principles (e.g., Exodus 18:21) in voting their values.

And FRC listed a specific set of issues on which the prayer team was to concentrate in order to reverse this trend - namely the Values Voter Summit, the Prop 8 ruling, Rifqa Bary, and Park 51:

- Pray that God will pour out his Spirit upon this year's [Values Voter Summit]; that it will be the best yet -- life-changing and nation-shaking.

- May God give our lawyers wisdom and may He superintend a complete reversal to vouchsafe Biblical marriage in U.S. federal judicial precedent.

- May God protect Rifqa's health. May U.S. officials help her along the road to citizenship. May God guide her education and her promising and needed ministry!

- May America reject this Mosque and the wider Islamist political agenda! May the Church stand against all false religion, while reaching out to Muslims with love.

Perfectly Exposing The Utter Hypocrisy At the Heart of The Right's Anti-Mosque Crusade

You have to give Bob Allen and Associated Baptist Press credit for this tremendous article which so perfect exposes the hypocrisy that Religious Right leaders keep offering up as they seek to justify their fight against the "Ground Zero Mosque" - leaders like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: 

"I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent," said Land, the denomination's top representative on moral, ethical and religious-liberty concerns. "But what I don't do is I don't say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them."

Land cited a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of officials in Boerne, Texas, to refuse permission for a Catholic parish to expand its building in a district designated for historic preservation.

But Land's group actually opposed much of the Supreme Courts majority's reasoning in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision at the time as too restrictive of religious liberty -- and Land heavily criticized the decision. The ERLC -- then known as the SBC Christian Life Commission -- joined a friend-of-the-court brief filed by a broad coalition of religious and civil-liberties organizations that urged the court to decide the case very differently than it ended up doing.

In 1998, Land testified before Congress in favor of a bill -- the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act -- that restored much of what the Supreme Court gutted in the ruling. In his testimony, he said, "I believe that the Boerne decision is one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history."

He added, "You cannot treat a church or a mosque or a synagogue the same way you treat a bowling alley or a used-car dealership. This Supreme Court said, 'Yes you can.' That is outrageous and dangerous."

So, let me get this straight: Land railed against the Supreme Court's decision and strongly supported the passage of RLUIPA, which was designed to remedy that very SCOTUS decision, and even testified before Congress in support of the legislation ... yet he is now citing the original SCOTUS decision, which he called "one of the worst decisions rendered by the Supreme Court in its long history," to justify his opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque"?  

Is that doesn't perfectly encapsulate the hypocrisy at the heart of the Religious Right's crusade against his building, I don't know what does. 

Colson: "Go Build the Mosque Somewhere Else"

For weeks now, Chuck Colson has been warning about threat that President Obama poses to the religious freedoms of Christians, begging people to "understand the severity of the threats to our first freedom" which are coming from all sides and to "realize the kind of fight we're in and be prepared for what we may face in the coming months."

They key to protecting these liberties, Colson has been assuring everyone, is for them to sign the Manhattan Declaration which affirms the sanctity of "religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image":

In recent decades a growing body of case law has paralleled the decline in respect for religious values in the media, the academy and political leadership, resulting in restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We view this as an ominous development, not only because of its threat to the individual liberty guaranteed to every person, regardless of his or her faith, but because the trend also threatens the common welfare and the culture of freedom on which our system of republican government is founded. Restrictions on the freedom of conscience or the ability to hire people of one's own faith or conscientious moral convictions for religious institutions, for example, undermines the viability of the intermediate structures of society, the essential buffer against the overweening authority of the state, resulting in the soft despotism Tocqueville so prophetically warned of. Disintegration of civil society is a prelude to tyranny.

So imagine my surprise when I now see Colson telling Muslims to go build their mosques somewhere else:

Earlier this week, the proposed New York City mosque at ground zero cleared its final hurdle. Nothing seems to stand in the way of its construction.

I am appalled that peace-loving Muslims would want to do this on what is, for most Americans, hallowed ground. I am even more appalled that the mayor of New York is in favor of the idea ... the construction of the mosque at ground zero is not about tolerance. And it isn’t about religious liberty ... [I]t would not be an act of intolerance to deny the construction of a mosque at a certain location-particularly one, ground zero, where the mosque will serve as a daily reminder to New Yorkers of the terrorists, who, motivated by their Islamo-fascist beliefs, killed 3,000 innocent people in the name of Islam.

Go build the mosque somewhere else.

Colson has been frantically warning recently that their "first freedoms" are slowly slipping away and that they need to be willing and prepared engage in civil disobedience to defend them while simultaneously telling Muslims to "go build the mosque somewhere else."

And that is the Religious Right's understanding of "religious freedom" in a nutshell. 

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