Religious Liberty

Santorum: Colleges 'Indoctrinating' Students in 'Sea of Antagonism Toward Christianity'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins welcomed former presidential contender Rick Santorum to his “Washington Watch” radio program on Tuesday, where the two discussed the moral decline of the nation. Santorum blamed colleges and universities for “indoctrinating in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism toward Christianity,” leading to the “symptoms” of abortion, marriage and pornography:

Santorum: The cultural indicators that I talked about earlier that are sort of going the wrong way, we're, you know, in ever-increasing numbers, less and less people here in America, you know, and believe in God, and believe in Jesus Christ, and believe in truth and right and wrong. It’s understandable, I mean, if you certainly, if you look at popular culture and what comes out of Hollywood, if you go to our schools and particularly our colleges and universities, they are indoctrinating in a sea of relativism and a sea of antagonism toward Christianity -- religion in general, but Christianity in particular. And so it’s understandable that that happens, but we, you’re right. Abortion is a symptom, marriage is a symptom, I mean pornography is, all of these are symptoms to the fundamental issue that we’ve gotten away from the truth and the Truth-Giver.

Earlier in the program, in a conversation with FOX News’s Todd Starnes, Perkins fondly reminisced about the days “before repressive government” when his elementary school teacher would discipline her students with a yardstick:

Perkins: I remember my third grade teacher had a big Bible, one of the biggest Bibles I ever saw, sitting on the corner of her desk, and on the other side of the desk was a yardstick, and I think she used the yardstick more. In classrooms today, you couldn’t have either one. But that was, we date things in terms of A.D., that was B.R.G., Before Repressive Government, back when God was still welcome in our schools.

Michele Bachmann Back on the Intelligence Committee, Still Spouting Conspiracy Theories

Last year, after Michele Bachmann launched a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin and alleged that there had been “deep penetration” by the Muslim Brotherhood in high levels of government, People For the American Way launched a campaign to get Bachmann kicked out of the House Select Committee on Intelligence. On the Intelligence Committee, she has special access to sensitive national security information, which probably shouldn’t be in the hands of a fear-mongering conspiracy theorist. But this week, Bachmann announced that she had been reassigned to the Intelligence Committee, despite the protests.

In light of the news, PFAW has revived its petition drive and the campaign has been covered by USA Today, the Huffington Post, and the Ed Show:

Back in July, we published a rundown of Bachmann’s worst conspiracy theories. Since then, she’s added to her repertoire, claiming that President Obama has “enforced Islamic speech codes here in the U.S.” and is intent on imposing Sharia law at home and abroad.

You can sign PFAW’s petition to remove Bachmann from the Intelligence Committee here.

Swanson and Buehner's 2013 Predictions: Human-Cell Phone Marriage, Chrislam, a Name Change for Time Magazine

On the New Years Eve episode of Generations Radio, Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner offered up their review of 2012 and their predictions for 2013. As Brian wrote yesterday, they were not fans of 2012 – the year that President Obama won reelection, which “solidified our doom” and guaranteed the election of “a bunch of softy-wofty, weeny socialists for years to come.”

Their predictions for 2013 are not any more cheery.

Swanson forsees “the Muslims and the liberal Presbyterians getting together to form Chrislam,” which actually might not be a big deal because “chances are, at the end of the day they’re all Muslims anyway”:

Swanson: There will be a merger of PCUSA [Presbyterian Church (USA)], a liberal Christian organization, denomination, there will be a merger of PCUSA and a Muslim sect to form the first Mustererian denomination. How do you say that? Musterian denomination.

Buenher: Chrislam.

Swanson: So the Muslims and the liberal Presbyterians get together to form Chrislam. There’s just synthesis going on, so I’m just waiting for that mix. Now, chances are Dave, that at the end of the day they’re all Muslims anyway.

Swanson further predicts that Time magazine will “turn into the Daily Dragon or maybe the Daily Harlot…and then maybe Barack Obama rides on the Harlot or the Beast.” Further, Chief Justice John Roberts will declare the “confiscation of assault weapons” a “tax” and that Joe Biden will “come back with a recommendation to make school shootings illegal.” Buehner adds his own prediction that Colorado will pass a civil union bill allowing human-pet and human-cell phone marriage.

Swanson: You know Newsweek became the Daily Beast? Have you  ever seen that? I went online about a week ago trying to find a Newsweek article and I ended up on the Daily Beast site. What is that? Well, Dave, they were out of money, they couldn’t publish it anymore, so now they’ve got the DailyBeast.com. Well, here’s the prediction for 2013, to maintain the general apocalyptic theme here, Time magazine will turn into the Daily Dragon or maybe the Daily Harlot.

Buehner: I think the latter is probably more appropriate.

Swanson: And then maybe Barack Obama rides on the Harlot or the Beast. I don’t know how that works. But it’s in Revelation, check it out, it’s in Revelation. Ok, John Roberts declares the confiscation of assault weapons not a violation of the Second Amendment but a tax under the Interstate Commerce Clause. That wouldn’t surprise me. I mean we’ve got the precedent, and the precedents come from the top, top dog, the top ,top court of the land. Ok, and Joe Biden comes back with a recommendation to make school shootings illegal. That would be helpful. No, I think it would just inspire more school shootings.

Buehner: Well, you really don’t want to give legal cover to those who want to shoot in schools. I mean, that would make sense. Kevin, here’s one. You know that now that Colorado  has a Democrat in the governor and both houses and the courts are controlled by Democrats, I think Colorado is going to pass the first-in-the-nation civil union bill where somebody, a human, and their pet, can be recognized in a full civil union, full benefits and…

Swanson: What about a human and a cell phone?

Buehner: Well, that’s only a two-year contract. And then you get to change it after two years and get a new plan.

Finally, Swanson and Buehner get to natural disasters and war. While they point out that liberal bastions San Francisco and New York have already been hit by the“natural disasters” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Bloomberg, God’s judgement is still incomplete. Buehner boldly predicts that “somewhere in  the world we see hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, disease, and one more, and it’s a man-made calamaty, I will predict that somewhere, I’m going to say that in the Middle East, there’s violence that’s going to happen in  2013.”  

Swanson: More predictions for 2013. The fiscal cliff will become the fiscal chasm. And Dave, maybe a calamity for New Orleans. No, we already had one there. New York? No. San Francisco. Have we had one there? Not since, wasn’t there like an earthquake there many years ago?

Buehner: Well, there are all kinds of calamities. New York had their calamity, Mayor Bloomberg. I mean, that’s a calamity. They got drenched with less than 16 ounces of drink over a hurricane.

Swanson: Yeah, they did.

Buehner: And San Francisco has their calamity, they have Nancy Pelosi.

Swanson: We’ll see what happens. I have a feeling there is a God and America has not repented yet. Follow my logic here, Dave. Ok, there is a God, that’s proposition A.  Proposition B, Premise B, America has not repented. Premise C, God has sent these kind of calamities before. So here’s the conclusion: there will be more. Ok, follow me? Follow the logic there?

Buehner: Yeah. I’m thinking that somewhere in  the world we see hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, disease, and one more, and it’s a man-made calamaty, I will predict that somewhere, I’m going to say that in the Middle East, there’s violence that’s going to happen in 2013.
 

Tony Perkins Attacks DAR Moves Toward Religious Inclusion

The "War on Christmas" season is over, but the Religious Right's campaign to portray Christianity under attack in America continues.  You might be surprised which organization the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins is slamming as hostile to Christianity -- it's that notoriously radical group, the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Perkins' attack on the DAR makes it clear just how narrowly the Religious Right views the role of religion in our society -- and how they twist thoughtful efforts to promote respectful, inclusive religious language into an assault on Christians and Christianity.

In this week's Washington Update, Perkins promotes a breathless report from Fox News' Todd Starnes, which recycles complaints about 2011 changes the DAR made to its Ritual and Missal in order to make its prayers more inclusive of non-Christians who might be members of the group or participants at its events.  Starnes reported, incorrectly, that the DAR had directed members to refrain from praying in the name of Christ. Here's Perkins:

For the organization, which was established in 1890, this signals a dramatic change in the strong Judeo-Christian roots of the DAR. After all, this is a service group meant to perpetuate the memory of the American Revolution and the values for which we fought. Like it or not, those values and our nation's identity were rooted in the Christian tradition. And while society may have changed over the years, the intentions of our founders--to build a godly nation--has not.

Note Perkins' odd use of "Judeo-Christian" to complain about changes that removed prayers in the name of Jesus Christ (the materials are still full of hymns and prayers to God). The "Judeo" in Perkins' "Judeo-Christian" is a fig leaf the Religious Right uses to mask the fact that they are promoting the notion of a Christian nation.

The DAR's President General Merry Ann T. Wright, herself a Christian, addressed false charges that the group's revisions rendered organizational documents godless months ago in a series of blog posts. Here's part of what she had to say last April:

The Executive Officers believe that the new Ritual and Missal can be used by members of any faith, substituting words as they wish, changing the prayers to suit the needs of the meeting in which they are being used. At our Executive meetings, knowing that we are all Christian, we pray in the Name of Jesus. When those are present whose faith is unknown, we pray in God’s name. However, we all recognize that when Christians pray in God’s name we are, indeed, praying in Christ’s name because the Christian faith believes in the Trinity of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also understand that our Jewish members know God as Jehovah or Yahweh, Muslim members use the name Allah for God and there are those whose spirituality may have a still different higher power or none at all.

We have in no way mandated that one must or must not use the name of Jesus Christ in the prayers. In our DAR rituals, prayers are included. Most of the prayers begin with “Our Father” or “Almighty God” and end “in Your Holy Name.” Christ’s prayer, known as The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, Easter and Passover prayers and prayers for other religious observances are included.

The Ritual and Missal is a guide and may be adapted to reflect the composition and thoughts of whoever is using it. There is always the option of writing other prayers or not using prayers at all. Our primary concern was to show our faithful love and respect to all who belong to DAR whatever their faith might be. We believe the current Ritual and Missal shows that respect and inclusiveness.

How does Tony Perkins respond to the DAR's goal of respect and inclusiveness? "This is blatant historical revisionism, and it's driven by the environment of hostility this administration has created toward every kind of Christian expression." Sure, Tony.

Gaffney: Obama has a 'Profound Affinity for' Islamism

It is always fascinating to watch far-right activists claim that Muslims should be stripped of their First Amendment rights while denouncing the Obama administration for allegedly trying to undermine the freedom of religion all in the same breath.

Take, for example, Frank Gaffney, who testified in a Tennessee court on behalf of a group that tried to ban a mosque by arguing that Islam is not be protected under the First Amendment. He spoke with Eagle Forum head Phyllis Schlafly yesterday about Obama, whom Gaffney thinks is likely a secret Muslim, about his purported “assaults” on religious freedom.

After Schlafly named a series of lawsuits (most of which had no connection to the Obama administration) that she says prove Obama is hostile to the First Amendment, Gaffney asserted that Obama is not only trying to impose a “secularist agenda” but also champion “unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism.” He argued that Obama has a “profound affinity for” Islamism and asked Schlafly how that squares with his secularism.

Schlafly, however, couldn’t come up with a coherent answer besides arguing that Obama is wrong for saying that “we are not a Christian nation” since that’s “what the founding fathers were saying all the time.”

Gaffney: These seem sort of like small and unconnected assaults, but one of the places where we see and you write very powerfully about, this coming to ahead as you say, is the exception to his secularist agenda, which seems to be President Obama’s profound affinity for and I would argue unalloyed efforts to promote Islamism. Tell us what that’s about and how that’s translating into further problematic behavior with respect to our religious freedoms.

Schlafly: Well my book, No Higher Power, shows how he is trying to completely secularize our country but he is giving a pass to Islam. You find that he doesn’t attack Islam and he went over to one of those countries and announced that we are not a Christian nation, but America is a Christian nation, look at all of our founding documents and what the founding fathers were saying all the time and the very beginning. It is very peculiar the way he gives a pass to Islam.

Maybe Schlafly and Gaffney can read Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography where he explicitly states that Muslims have religious freedom and no religion has a privileged status, or see the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli negotiated by George Washington and ratified unanimously under John Adams which reads in part:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility [sic], of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and, as the said States never have entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Does Randy Forbes Understand How the First Amendment Works?

One of the most remarkable things about the Religious Right today is the amazingly widespread belief that any criticism or disagreement with their agenda is somehow a violation of their First Amendment rights. 

The Religious Right seems to truly believe that the First Amendment protects their rights to say anything they wish while simultaneously rendering them immune from criticism or opposition, as if the very same First Amendment that protects their free speech rights does not protect the free speech rights of those who disagree with them.

Case in point:  the day after the election, the American Humanist Association sent a letter to all the newly elected members of Congress, encouraging them not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus. But to Rep. Randy Forbes, founder of the Prayer Caucus, this is nothing more than an attempt to "censor people" and prevent them from talking about their faith, as he explained on "Wallbuilders Live" today:

None of us, and no member of our caucus believes, that we want government to dictate what the church should do and we don't want the church dictating what the government should do.

But these extremist groups try to switch that around and they try to carry it to another dimension where they don't want anybody in government to have the right to even speak about their faith, or prayer, or God, or religion.  And they don't want anyone in the church to be able to speak about government.

What they want to do is censor people from their faith and from their First Amendment rights.

Members of Congress have the right to join the Prayer Caucus if they want, just as others have a right to ask them not to do so.  That is how the First Amendment works. 

Disagreement is not censorship and the Constitution does not protect you from criticism.

Swanson and Ham: Young Earth Creationists at 'Omaha Beach in the War of the Worldviews'

Generations Radio’s Kevin Swanson spoke yesterday with Creation Museum president Ken Ham, who has written a book about how many Christian colleges “are going the way of Yale, Harvard and Princeton” and rejecting young earth creationism.

Ham recently lashed out at televangelist Pat Robertson after Right Wing Watch reported Robertson’s rejection of the idea that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. In his interview with Swanson, Ham accused churches and Christian colleges of “open[ing] the door to allow the philosophy of naturalism, and evolution, millions of years, to permeate into God’s word,” warning, “If we don’t shut that door, we’re going to lose this culture, America will be the England and Europe of tomorrow.”

“As you write this book,” Swanson asked, “Do you get the sense that you are effectively very, very close to Omaha Beach in the war of the worldviews?”

Ham: Evolution, millions of years, he naturalistic philosophy that permeates our education system, that’s really the religion of this age to explain life without God. And much of our church, our church leaders, have adopted that religion, sadly, and compromised it with God’s word.

Swanson: Ken, as you write this book, ‘Already Compromised,’ do you get the sense that you are effectively very, very close to Omaha Beach in the war of the worldviews? I mean, you are right there, where the ideas are being formulated, where the minds and the lives of the next generation are being formed by the millions across this country, I mean this is an important battle.

Ham: It is, it’s an extremely important battle. Because, you know what, it only takes one generation to lose a culture. That’s all it takes. And if you can capture one generation, you’ll have the culture. And just as, you know, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan river and there were 12 stones to remind the next generation of what God did and what did we find? They weren’t reminded, the next generation, they lost it in one generation, we’re losing this culture before our very eyes today because the church opened the door to allow the philosophy of naturalism, and evolution, millions of years, to permeate into God’s word. We need to shut that door. If we don’t shut that door, that’s where the battle’s at right now, if we don’t shut that door, we’re going to lose this culture, America will be the England and Europe of tomorrow.

Joni Lamb: America is a Christian Nation and if You Don't Like it, 'You Shouldn't Live Here'

Recently, Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute appeared on the Christian television program "Joni" along with David Barton to discuss the report that Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America."

During the discussion, Shackelford mentioned a legal fight that took place in Texas last year over a high-school valedictorian who wanted to say a prayer during her graduation speech.  The student ultimately won the right to do so, which prompted host Joni Lamb to declare it a victory for free speech, saying "that if you live in America and you understand that we are a Christian society then you can't be offended by things like that or you shouldn't live here": 

Barber: Gay Marriage is a Weapon Designed to Destroy Religious Liberty

On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed a lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple against the owners of Liberty Ridge Farms in upstate New York after they refused to allow the couple to hold their wedding on the grounds, citing religious objections. 

For Barber, this was proof that the push for marriage equality is not actually about marriage or equality, but simply nothing more than "a political and legal calculus that is being used as a weapon to destroy religious liberty": 

Barton Blames PFAW and Others for Creating 'Toxic" Environment Responsible for Christian Persecution

In August, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released a joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which purported to be a "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America" ... but, for some reason, the incident they love to cite more than any other is a nearly twenty year old myth about an elementary school student who was supposedly yanked out of his seat and yelled at simply for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria.

In reality, the student was disciplined for fighting in the lunch room in 1994 but the Religious Right continues to perpetuate this lie to this day. In fact, David Barton cites it repeatedly despite the fact that it is demonstrably false, and did so again today on "WallBuilders Live," as did the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford, who was on the program to promote the report:

Barton: What does it say to that elementary kid who got jerked out of his seat and hauled to the principle's office in front of everybody else and told don't you ever pray over your lunch again, period? What kind of impression is that giving? Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me" and we're doing our best to say "absolutely no way, absolutely not will we ever allow any kid to get to you" ... this is crazy stuff.

Shackelford: It's all the way from a ten-year old boy who was quote "caught" praying over his meal in the lunch cafeteria who was lifted out of his chair and carried to the principle's office where he was told to never do that again while he was at school.

Even though this incident never actually happened, Barton sees it as proof that we at PFAW and other groups have created a "toxic" and "hostile" environment in which public officials are pressured into persecuting Christians:

Barton: And I really blame this climate on the secular groups, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Americans United, the People For the American Way, the Military Freedom Foundation, all these guys who have so made the climate so toxic that if you share your faith, public officials feel like they have to come down on you with both feet otherwise they'll get sued and end up in court and have to spend millions of dollars defending something religions. And so these guys have created such a hostility in the public that now public officials and school officials and city council officials and those who run senior's centers and everything else are so scared to death of seeing faith that if they see it, they feel like they have to jump on it with both feet and both hands and bring out the hammers and run over you with a car and pull out a chainsaw and cut you to pieces. They over-react and I really blame a lot of those organizations. 

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/4/12

Anti-Choice Activists to Engage in Civil Disobedience Over Contraception Mandate This Weekend

It looks like this weekend will kick off the Religious Right's latest protest against the Obama administration's contraception mandate with something called ActsFive29 in which activists plan to descend on the White House and risk arrest in announcing that they will never comply with the mandate. 

The event takes its name from the Bible passage which declares "we must obey God rather than men" and is being sponsored by a handful of radical anti-choice groups including Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, the Christian Defense Coalition, Pro-life Action League, Operation Rescue, Priests for Life, and the American Family Association.

For 72 hours, they plan to carry out a "vigil of prayer, public witness and arrests at the White House" because "we must obey God rather than man or soon jail may be the only option":

We are a nation ruled by those we choose by our votes. So we are sending those in elected office a warning: you hold office because we chose you — and we will not comply! We will not pay the $1 monthly abortion surcharge, we will not pay for abortion-inducing drugs and other unconscionable practices demanded of us through the HHS mandate, and we will not surrender our freedoms as delineated in the Declaration and our Constitution.

And we will go to jail before we do.

Today our arrests will be voluntary, a living witness to the church and to the government — tomorrow arrest may be the only option if we are unwilling to pay to have someone’s child murdered.

Please join with us as we send a powerful message to those within the church and to our elected officials through peaceful civil disobedience! Just as MLK was arrested for the rights of his fellow men, so we will stand. This will be 72 hours of continuous prayer and arrests in front of the White House! This moment is fraught with an unprecedented “urgency of the hour”; thus, we are issuing a national call for Christians, and all our fellow Americans of whatever creed, to come to the White House and be part of this prayerful, peaceful, and prophetic witness for life and justice: ActsFive29.

Join us September 29 through October 2, 2012 as we humbly and boldly lay down our lives and our freedom so that future generations will have that freedom, and the liberty to practice their faith.

Harvey: Obama Appeases Islam 'While Sticking it to Christians Time and Again'

On her radio commentary today, Linda Harvey slammed President Obama for coddling Islam while insulting Christianity at every turn.  Harvey played a clip of Obama saying America rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others when it comes to Islam and then compared that to a clip of Obama speaking at a White House LGBT Pride Month reception, where he said that some people continue to oppose efforts to achieve equality because they "still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes."

To Harvey, this was proof of Obama's "stunning hypocrisy" and proof that the administration "bends over backwards for Islam while sticking it to Christians time and again":

You would think that our leaders would understand by now that we are not dealing with a reasonable ideology and it's time to stop making excuses. At the very least you would think Barack Obama could be consistent. If he and his cabinet members are willing to plead for understanding for Islam despite the violent track record shown by so many people who adhere to this faith, you would think that our president would have a soft heart for Christians in this country who are anxious to be able to live out our faith principles. If he respects, understands, and apologizes for one religion, why not others? But that is unfortunately not the case ... He bends over backwards for Islam while sticking it to Christians time and again.

Barton: Cops Should Have Refused to Arrest Arizona Pastor for Illegally Building a Church

Yesterday on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green discussed the case of Arizona pastor Michael Salman who has recently become a Religious Right cause célèbre because he is  supposedly being persecuted simply because he wanted to hold Bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and had been holding multiple-weekly church services on his property until he was found guilty of dozens of code violations and sentenced to sixty days in jail.

Barton took up the case today and voiced his outrage, calling on voters in Phoenix to work to remove political leaders in that city for allowing something like this to happen. Barton went on to falsely claim that Salman's home was raided by a SWAT team sent to arrest him and said that law enforcement officers must refuse to participate in things like this because they have an obligation to uphold the Constitution:

And the one we have today, the one we're going to talk about today is a great example is a bunch of political leaders in a city who need to be seriously removed. The fact that they would even think about enforcing this particular ordinance against anybody means that we've got a bad set of leaders there that need to be gone.

...

There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study. The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point.

Raymond Raines and the Religious Right: The Myth That Will Not Die

Yesterday Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a new website and joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which is billed as "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America."

And you can tell from the introduction just how trustworthy this report truly is:

The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only “freedom of worship.” This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom “only within four walls.” That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church, or synagogue, but when you enter the public square the message is, “leave your religion at home.” President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly echoed this same message in international forums, acknowledging only a right to the “freedom of worship.” This is no accident, and it has huge ramifications.

This claim that Obama is systematically undermining "freedom of religion" seems to be one of the Religious Right's favorite claims ... which, of course, means that it is not true at all.

The report itself consists of 100+ pages of  short descriptions of seemingly every court case along with the various urban legends that the Religious Right trots out whenever they are trying to play the victim.  In fact, this one from the Executive Summary caught my eye:

A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

That sounded a lot like the story of Raymond Raines and, sure enough, on page 74 we find this:

Elementary School Student Punished for Praying Before Meals
Joan Little, “City Schools Issue Rules About Students, Religion,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 1996, at 2B

Elementary school student Raymond Raines was “caught” praying over his meal at his elementary school. He was lifted from his seat and reprimanded in front of all the other students, then taken to the principal who ordered him to cease praying in school.

As we noted just a few months ago, this myth has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders first started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:

The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.

"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.

On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

This incident took place nearly twenty years ago and the Religious Right is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America despite the fact that it never happened.

Reason #7 Why Obama is not a Christian: He is too Nice to the Moo-slums

Late last year, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission announced that his organization would be releasing a series of monthly videos leading up to the election detailing "ten new irrefutable proofs that Barack Obama is not a Christian."

Today, Cass released part seven of the series which lays out that Obama has been friendly to Islam while being hostile to Christianity, even though the Bible says that "Islam is the doctrine of demons and originates in Hell."  And the reason Obama doesn't believe that America is a Christian nation, the CADC explains, is because he had a "Moo-slum father and step-father":

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The Right's Sudden Concern About Arpaio's Prison Camps

Over the last few weeks, Arizona pastor Michael Salman has become a Religious Right cause célèbre and the current poster boy for religious persecution. In the Religious Right's version of events, Salman has supposedly been harassed and persecuted by local officials for years simply because he wanted to hold bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and was found guilty of dozens of code violations, resulting in a sixty day jail sentence, which Salman is now serving ... and about which his supporters are now complaining:

Pastor Michael Salman is serving his 60-day sentence for holding a home Bible study in Tent City Jail, a prison compound in Maricopa County, Ariz. The Phoenix pastor’s attorney describes conditions there as similar to the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

“This is where you would put Osama bin Laden, not Michael Salman,” says Rutherford Institute founder and attorney John Whitehead in an interview yesterday with International Christian Concern (ICC).

“The temperature there has been around 140 degrees, and there is no air conditioning. They’re [living] in tents. They have stun fences … barbed wire … large German shepherds walking the perimeter, armed guards and facial recognition software so that the prisoners are studied all the time.”

According to Whitehead, Salman has reported being imprisoned with “really hardened criminals.” He is unsure why the pastor has been specifically sent to Tent City. In late June, the jail was the focus of thousands of protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa County Sherriff’s office to express their disapproval of the allegedly prison camp-like conditions.

It should be noted that this Guantanamo-like prison camp in which Salman is currently serving his time just so happens to be the system set up by the Right's hero, "America's Toughest Sheriff," and Birther extraordinaire Joe Arpaio.

Oddly, nobody on the Right seemed particularly concerned about the conditions in the compound until now. 

The New York Times Sheds New Light on the Lisa Miller Kidnapping Case

New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm has a big front-page story in Sunday’s paper on a case that readers of RWW are familiar with: the disappearance of Lisa Miller. Eckholm traveled to Nicaragua to talk with the Mennonite communities that have helped harbor Miller and her daughter Isabella on their flight from United States law enforcement and from Isabella’s other legal parent, Miller’s former partner Janet Jenkins of Vermont. Miller, who kidnapped her daughter rather than allow her to have visitation rights with Jenkins, has become a cause celebre among the Religious Right, a supposed victim of anti-Christian persecution.

Eckholm supplies us with an illuminating and creepy anecdote about a family of hamsters left to die in Miller’s abandoned house, and casts some light on the thinking of those who helped harbor Miller in Nicaragua. But there’s one important piece of the puzzle that remains a mystery: did Miller’s attorneys at Liberty University have anything to do with Miller’s disappearance? LU Law School dean Mat Staver tells Eckholm that he was surprised as anyone when Miller disappeared, as he has since it first became known.

But Liberty University’s relationship with Miller has always been a little complicated. Rena Lindevaldsen, an LU Law School dean and Miller’s attorney before she disappeared, has now written a book arguing Miller’s case. And even before Miller kidnapped with Isabella, Lindevaldsen and Staver were teaching Miller’s case as an example of a situation where the demands of “God’s law” trump those of “man’s law.” Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner talked with several students who had taken a required class from the two deans and got her hands on a copy of an exam that quizzed students on what to do in Lisa Miller’s situation:

Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”
...
That semester’s mid-term exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”

Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers to be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”

Still, some knew what they needed to “regurgitate,” in order to get a good grade. “It was obvious by the substance of the class during the semester the answer that they wanted,” said one of the students. “The majority of people that I am acquainted with who did get As wrote that because that was expected of them.”

One of the students who got an A said, “I told them she needed to engage in civil disobedience and seriously consider leaving the country,” adding, “I knew what I needed to write.”

Given what was expected of them on the exam, and the tenor of the class, there is “not a lot of shock among the students about the current developments,” said one of the students, referring to the revelation that Miller is in hiding in Nicaragua. “Everybody semi-suspected that Liberty Counsel had something to do with her disappearance.”


Of course, we have no way of knowing what Liberty Counsel knew and when they knew it. But Posner’s reporting shows that it’s certainly worth looking into.

LaBarbera and Lindevaldsen Say No to Gay Judges, Sad Sally Ride ‘Fell into Lesbianism’

Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera continued his discussion with Liberty University Law School’s Rena Lindevaldsen on Friday. The two revisited the topic of openly gay judges, specifically the Virginia prosecutor who was rejected from a judgeship simply because he was gay. That discrimination was ok, Lindevaldsen said, because “if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge”:

Lindevaldsen: I think we can equate this not only with the judiciary, but the same debate is taking place, you know, who we want to serve as our schoolteachers, for example. We want moral, upstanding individuals to serve as judges, and this debate’s taking place with schoolteachers too. So if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge.

I think it goes to fit moral character and I think that the necessary qualification of any judicial appointment. And therefore it is relevant, based on your conduct, to judge and decide whether you should be allowed to sit in the judiciary.

Immediately after Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera made the case that gay judicial nominees should be defined by and excluded for their sexual orientation, they changed the rules when it came to another prominent example of an openly gay person in public life. Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera heaped scorn on gay rights activists who have had the nerve to call the late Sally Ride, who lived for 27 years with her same-sex partner, a gay pioneer. Emphasizing Ride’s sexual orientation, LaBarbera said -- expanding on a tweet from shortly after her death --would be like defining her as an alcoholic if she had a drinking problem:

LaBarbera: They’re always using opportunities to promote what their version of reality on homosexuality. And really quickly, Sally Ride, another great example. Sally Ride was the first female astronaut, the first…and she had many amazing accomplishments. Unfortunately she also fell into lesbianism and left her husband, she was married, she ended up living in a lesbian lifestyle. She was not public about it. Now gay activists, like Michelangelo Signorile, are using her homosexual, you know, the fact that she practiced the homosexual lifestyle, to say, ‘Hey, this is another gay hero.”

Kirkwood: She was a female astronaut, now she’s the ‘lesbian astronaut.’

LaBarbera: Now she’s the lesbian astronaut, and you better believe in textbooks like in California where they’re teaching gay history now, there’s going to be Sally Ride. So people are going to learn Sally Ride as a, and we’re going a bit over here, they’re going to learn Sally Ride, Rena, as a gay hero, even though she wasn’t even public about it in her life.

Lindevaldsen: Yeah, because they need to contort our history to show that we’ve accepted this all along and that it’s perfectly normal, and see you too can do this and become great things. And you can, you can accomplish things, but that’s not who she was, that doesn’t define who she was and what she accomplished.

LaBarbera: And Rena, I tweeted, and I knew this was going to get me in trouble, but I tweeted, ‘Did she have a drinking problem too?’ In my tweet, I said that she made great accomplishments. But she should not be, and I didn’t, of course she doesn’t, I don’t know if she had a drinking problem or not, but my point was the fact that she practiced homosexuality would be about as relevant as saying, ‘Sally Ride, hey people who drink can be great.’ I mean it’s still immoral behavior, it’s very sad to me that she was involved in that lifestyle. The fact that she was in that lifestyle doesn’t take away from the great accomplishments that she had. But the point is gay identity politics now wants to seize her as a hero.

 

Grudem: Freedom of Religion 'Doesn't Mean it's Morally Right for People' to be Non-Christians

For the last two days, James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program has featured a discussion with Wayne Grudem, author of the book "Politics According to the Bible."

In between fretting that the United States was on the verge of permanent collapse due to the policies of President Obama and the poor moral/spiritual state of the nation in general, Grudem was asked by Ryan Dobson just what he should say to people who think that just because something is legal that makes it okay.  The question prompted Grudem to respond that just because something is legal, that doesn't make it moral ... just as our nation allows freedom of religion, but that doesn't mean it is "morally right" for people to be Muslims or Buddhists:

Ryan Dobson: When I speak around the country to all ages, I talk about the difference between legal and right; just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right. And oftentimes I hear from churchgoers "well, that's what the law is, what am I supposed to do?" And at what point can a believer say just because it's legal doesn't make it right and I'm going to do what's right even if it's illegal.

Grudem: Well, there are two questions. One is does God require of us more than the civil laws demand? Sure. Our nation, for instance, allows freedom of religion so it's legal to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple but that doesn't mean it's morally right for people to seek to come to God that way because you and I believe, Ryan, that we only come to God through knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. So there are things that are allowed that are not what God wants us to do.

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