Vander Plaats Tries to Downplay AFA Backing of Iowa For Freedom

Yesterday, religious leaders in Iowa held a press conference to decry the role that the American Family Association in playing in running the Iowa For Freedom effort to remove three Supreme Court justices over their ruling in favor of marriage equality: 

“I believe that as a person of faith I am called on to aide those who are oppressed, abused and bullied — just as Jesus did,” said the Rev. Tom Capo of Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist. “And when I hear any faith-based organization — whether it is called the American Family Association, Iowa for Freedom or IowaPastors.com — that calls basically for revenge against our Iowa Supreme Court justices because these justices made one decision that these groups don’t agree with, a decision to allow one group of people to have the civil rights that they deserve, I wonder if they are considering if they are living loving messages of faith that all the world religious speak of: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Help those in need or in pain. Help those who society shuns. These are the messages of my faith.”

The groups aren’t preaching that message, according to Capo, but are attempting to “manipulate us using fear.”

Rabbi Todd Thalblum, leader of Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids, agrees that “the voices of hate are out in force” and encouraged all Americans to return to the country’s “founding principles of equality and respect.”

“We are, each of us, a representation of God on this earth, and this makes us equal,” Thalblum said.

“History has shown us that where ever hate speech has been allowed to fester, violence and aggression are not far behind,” Thalbulum said. “The Jewish people know this all too well as do many, many other minorities both in this country and across the globe. We should never make our decisions based on a rhetoric of hate, rather we should let that what is just and right be our guide.”

Bob Vander Plaats, executive director of Iowa for Freedom, responded by claiming that the AFA was merely one supporter of many:

“The only thing I’m going to denounce is activists judges on the supreme court that’s used to make law, govern law and amend the constitution, and usurp the will of the people, and the will be the message today all the way until November two,” Vander Plaats says.

He says he believes the people of Iowa will have their voice be heard and will vote “No” on the three justices. The Interfaith Alliance says the A-F-A is an “extremist group, with a radical agenda, and a record of hate.” Vander Plaats says the group is one of many supporters of Iowa for Freedom.

He says Newt Gingrich supports the effort, Iowa Congressman Steve King supports the group and Vander Plaats says he’s not going to take credit or responsibility or accountability for any of their comments, nor should they take credit or responsibility or accountability for any of his comments.

But as the Iowa Independent reports, Vander Plaats' claim is complete nonsense: 

But in fact, according to documents filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, Iowa for Freedom is not a separate entity, but simply the name given to AFA’s Iowa campaign. The group’s attorney told the state, “It is anticipated that all source funds for the Iowa for Freedom will come from AFA directly and that no other individuals or organizations will contribute specifically or directly for the campaign.”

As The Iowa Independent reported Wednesday, AFA has spent about $85,000 in Iowa in hopes of swaying Iowa voters not to retain three state Supreme Court justices that appear on the November ballot. According to Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issue analysis for government and public policy, the group will spend $200,000 on the effort.

...

While Vander Plaats downplays AFA’s contribution, AFA has done little, if anything, to hide its involvement with the retention campaign. Each page of the Iowa for Freedom website is marked as being “paid for by AFA Action Inc.,” the political arm of AFA. Advertisements generated by Iowa for Freedom are clearly marked as being “paid for by IowaforFreedom.com, a project of AFA Action Inc.” The West Des Moines address provided below the disclaimer is to a mail box at a UPS Store. In addition, e-mails sent by Vander Plaats on behalf of Iowa for Freedom dating back to August bear a similar disclaimer that the group is a project of the AFA. The website does note that AFA Action is a 501(c)4 organization, and that no contributions are tax-deductible.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Carl Paladino apologizes.
  • In response, Rabbi Yehuda Levin withdraws his endorsement.
  • And Terence Jeffrey and Joseph Farah defend Paladino's remarks.
  • The Judicial Confirmation Network - sorry, the Judicial Crisis Network - has released its first ever voter scorecard [PDF].
  • The ALCJ continues its fight against the "Ground Zero Mosque."
  • Pamela Geller and John Stemberger defend themselves in the $10 million Rifqa Bary lawsuits against them by claiming they may have engaged in hyperbole while attacking Bary's parents' attorney never knowingly lied.
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Accuracy In Media: "Considering this track record, James O’Keefe deserved our support in the face of the CNN assault against him."

Brownback Finally Speaks, Claims He Worked With Engle On "Human Rights" Issues

Earlier today we noted that Sam Brownback was refusing to comment on his ties to Lou Engle despite the fact that the two lived together for several months and that he has attended several events with Engle.

Well, it looks like the pressure has started to get to him and so Brownback finally broke his silence today and attempted to distance himself from Engle while claiming that his work with him was all about "human rights":

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback expressed uneasiness Wednesday with some elements of controversial evangelist Lou Engle's proselytizing.

The Kansas Democratic Party raised questions about ties between the Republican Party's nominee for governor and the minister with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. Brownback has participated in religious rallies in Tennessee and elsewhere hosted by Engle, who says Christians may need to martyr themselves in the campaign against abortion and homosexuality.

Engle and Brownback were together as recently as December 2009 when they appeared on the Internet broadcast of a prayer service seeking God's intervention to block Senate passage of health reform.

Brownback, interviewed following a TV appearance in Topeka, said Kansas voters should understand he doesn't agree with all positions expressed by Engle.

"He's said things I don't agree with," Brownback said. "I haven't talked to him in months."

Brownback, of Topeka, said he worked with Engle on adoption by the U.S. Senate of official statements of apology to Native Americans and African-Americans. He said the Native American statement became law.

"Those were the substantive items," Brownback said. "It's all been about human rights and helping people live better."

Brownback said any description of his relationship with Engle shouldn't suggest the senator had minimized his views on abortion and gay rights.

"I'm pro-life," Brownback said. "I support marriage as the union between a man and woman and I support the 'don't ask, don't tell' policies."

Please - Engle is know for a lot of things, but his "substantive" concerns about Native Americans, African Americans, and human rights are not at the top of the list. 

He may very well care deeply about such issues, but Engle is not drawing tens of thousands of prayer warriors to day-long fasting and prayer rallies aimed at apologizing to Native Americans - he mobilizes activists to fight abortion and gay marriage.

So let's ask Brownback again just which of Engle's views concern him the most:  Is it his Dominionism? or his view that homosexuality should be criminalized? or his fear that President Obama is unleashing demons upon this nation? or that universities are conditioning students to accept the Mark of the Beast? or maybe that Satan has gained control over the US government?

Jacobs Calls The "Blood-Covered Justice and Judgments of God" Down Up Her Enemies

I admit that I find the Religious Right's commingling of prayer with politics endlessly fascinating, especially the way they formulate specific political goals as prayer targets, which is why I keep posting them.

The targets set out by Cindy Jacobs and Generals International are particularly revealing, as she has been providing specific day-by-day prayers heading into the election.

Her latest prayer update focuses mainly on reclaiming the "education mountain," and seeks to remove "unrighteous leadership" for the nation's public school system so that the "light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the fear of the Lord" can be spread by educators. 

In addition, Jacobs declares that "progressive politics" and "multiculturalism" must be stripped from the nation's textbooks because they are "denigrating the importance of Christianity in American culture" and asks God to "break unholy conspiracies and expose for public scrutiny those who are advancing pro-Islamic textbooks and school curriculums under the rhetoric of diversity, rights, tolerance and democracy."

And, of course, Jacobs urges activists to pray to end "Homosexuality and Sexual Perversion in our Children's Schools" and calls the "blood-covered justice and judgments of God" down upon those who seek to "destroy the family unit through the advancement of the homosexual agenda":

· Pray for exposure to public scrutiny those who are covertly working to advance the homosexual indoctrination of our children through the educational system.

· Pray that God would raise up righteous leaders to successfully contend against the encroachments of the homosexual activists upon our nation's educational system.

· Pray that defenders of family and protectors of our children's welfare remain strong and courageous and true to their calling.

· Pray for protection of our children's minds and hearts as they sit in school, college and university classrooms.

Father, we come before you humbly crying out for mercy upon America's civic and household leaders for allowing the minority homosexual community to make such deep inroads into our nation's educational system. In Jesus' Name, we pray that You would awaken believers to the critical importance of being involved in preserving Biblical principals for living as the foundation of our children's education. Father, raise up Christians across America who will vote in leaders that will strongly oppose the encroachments of the homosexual activists upon our nation's educational system and diligently protect our children from being subjected to lessons in sexual perversion, deviance and decadence in their school classrooms and libraries. We ask You would expose to public scrutiny those who, under a cloak of "equality" that is devoid of Judeo-Christian values, are working to undermine parental rights in education and indoctrinate our impressionable school children in an effort to change public attitudes toward homosexuality. We release into our children the knowledge and wisdom of God and the boldness to stand up for what is true, holy and pure. We release strength, boldness and divine strategies to the faithful defenders of Your precepts for the instruction of our children and declare that they will not compromise their standards or cave to the abhorrent demands of the homosexual community even in the face of great opposition and threats. We release the blood-covered justice and judgments of God upon those forces that are trying to subjugate American education and thereby, destroy the family unit through the advancement of the homosexual agenda.

Why the Religious Right is glomming on to the Tea Party

Several scholars of religion and politics held a briefing at the National Press Club today to discuss the role of religion and religious voters in the upcoming elections. Polling presented by Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute and Gregory Smith of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life included some bad news for Democrats (e.g., among white Catholics, party identification has flipped from a 49-41 Democratic advantage to a 42-49 Republican advantage in just two years), some potentially good news for progressives (there’s huge majority support across religious groups for a boost in the minimum wage), and some very good news for advocates of marriage equality (support for same-sex marriage is growing significantly). The data also include some bad news for Religious Right leaders, which may explain why they have been so eager to attach themselves to the Tea Party movement and why they were so willing to settle for a few crumbs from the House Republicans’ “Pledge to America.” According to Pew, when voters were asked about the importance of 13 issues to their thinking about this year’s elections, abortion and same-sex marriage were at the very bottom of the list. Special note to Maggie Gallagher, Robert George, and the Knights of Columbus: same-sex marriage was also the very last issue in importance to Catholic voters. 

Fischer: "If We Want to See Fewer Students Commit Suicide, We Want Fewer Homosexual Students"

Bryan Fischer explains how GLSEN and gay groups "share more of the blame for [gay] suicides than anyone":

Homosexual conduct is as risky and dangerous as injection drug abuse. No right-thinking adult would encourage a student tempted to shoot up to yield to such impulses and plunge headlong into a drug-addled lifestyle. In fact, we would be highly critical of any adult who would do that, and hold him partially accountable for the destruction that would follow.

Nor should we encourage students wrestling with same-sex attractions to take the plunge. Rather, they should be helped to resist these self-destructive impulses and redirect their sexual energies in healthy and life-giving directions. It can be done; in fact, it happens every day.

If we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students. What all truly caring adults will want to do for a student struggling with his sexual identity is to help him resist dangerous sexual impulses, accept his biological identity as either male or female, and help him learn to adjust his psychological identity to his God-given biological one.

Along that path lies psychological, spiritual, mental and emotional wholeness. Along the path of sexual depravity lies loneliness, self-torment, disease, and even death. It is a cruel thing to help a sexually confused student walk down a path that leads to darkness rather than urge him to choose a path that leads to light.

The choice between life and death lies before America’s students. Let’s not punish the folks that will help them choose life.

Keyes Slams Gingrich, Claims Only Birthers Are Eligible To Be President

Recently, Newt Gingrich dipped his toes into Birther waters by suggesting that it is really President Obama's fault if people think he was born in Kenya or is secretly a Muslim. Gingrich claimed that while he does not believe such things many other people do, and the reason they do is because Obama has failed to quell their fears. 

This is typical Gingrich: playing to the right-wing base by validating extremist claims while simultaneously positioning himself as a reasonable commentator who doesn't necessarily believe such things.

But Alan Keyes is sick of it and absolutely lays into Gingrich and, in doing so, provides a good explanation of the game that Gingrich plays (albeit from a very, very right-wing perspective): 

Gingrich’s remarks are an apt illustration of the main reason why it’s so difficult to have confidence in Republican leaders like him. It’s too obvious that everything they do and say is motivated by partisan calculation rather than by any sincere concern for the integrity of the Constitution and the liberty it is supposed to establish. In this instance, for example, by saying that he believes that Obama was absolutely born in the United States Gingrich dutifully aligns himself with the elite party line. He then seeks to pander to the persistent and still growing number of Americans who have reasonable doubts about Obama’s background. But Gingrich does not treat those doubts as reasonable. Instead he ascribes them to fear and anxiety. In this way, as a mouse skillfully maneuvers to pinch the cheese without springing the trap, Gingrich poses as someone who understands and sympathizes with those who have these doubts. Meanwhile, by contemptuously ascribing those doubts to irrational passions he makes shift to avoid the brickbats of his elitist buddies. Unfortunately for him this cleverly calculated pose of sympathy is not only transparently insincere, it invites us to task Gingrich with the same deficiency he pretends to see in Obama. Gingrich needs to figure out why it is that so many people remain unconvinced of facts he absolutely believes, absent any absolutely believable evidence as to their truth. He needs to figure out why it is that despite the best efforts of cleverly superior elites such as himself many people insist on applying their own common sense.

Of course, this being Keyes, he concludes by proclaiming that since Gingrich doesn't take the Birther claims seriously, he too is unfit to be President of the United States because he clearly has no respect for the Constitution:

Gingrich and those like him have no interest in preserving and respecting the authority of the Constitution of the United States. If they did they would stop playing cynical political games with an issue that so directly undermines that authority. They would cease their contemptibly clever efforts to use the issue for political advantage and instead support or undertake straightforward efforts to ascertain the facts and conscientiously reached the judgments the Constitution requires.

Like every official who has served in some capacity in the government of the United States Newt Gingrich swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. But on the simple and straightforward issue of the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the office of President of the United States he has dutifully run with the jackals of contempt for anyone who demands that those requirements be respected. If elected president of the United States he will again swear the same oath as he takes office. Since he has forsworn it on so clear a constitutional issue as this, why should anyone believe that he or anyone like him will deal courageously with the more complex issues of constitutional integrity that now threaten to destroy our liberty.

Brownback Refuses to Comment On His Association With Engle

As we have noted before, Democrats in Kansas have rightly been making an issue of Sam Brownback's ties to Lou Engle given that the two lived together for several months after Brownback's condo burned down. 

Recently, Brownback tried to distance himself a bit from Engle, saying that he had some concerns about some of Engle's views but for the most part Brownback has been trying to ignore the issue ... which is getting harder as Democrats continue to make it an issue:

Kansas Democrats are highlighting Republican gubernatorial nominee Sam Brownback's ties to a controversial evangelist, saying the association raises questions about his judgment.

The Kansas Democratic Party cites Brownback's appearance at a 2007 rally for evangelist Lou Engle, who has urged Christians to fast and pray that "God, the avenger of blood" will heal the nation's sins of abortion and homosexuality.

"Does Sam Brownback know where to draw the line?" said Kenny Johnston, the Kansas Democratic Party's executive director. "It's an important question to ask about Sam Brownback's judgment."

Brownback's opponent, Tom Holland, even released a statement questioning Brownback's ties to Engle:

"I have read the stories in the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Lawrence Journal World and by the Associated Press detailing Senator Brownback's relationship with Lou Engle, and my staff has shared with me additional information1 on Mr. Engle's views and statements. I found all of this to be very troubling.

"The next Governor of Kansas will need to bring people together, not divide them along lines of fear and bigotry.

"Whether it's upholding the executive ban on workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians, or preventing our state from being defined by the messages of Fred Phelps and Lou Engle – the next Governor has a responsibility to protect the rights of every Kansan.

"We've seen what happens when right-wing extremists get the spotlight; our state becomes a punch line on late night talk shows and companies think twice before bringing new jobs to our state. We can't go down that path again.

"I'm running to be a leader for all Kansans, so that we can continue our legacy as a Free State, where discrimination and bigotry – against anyone – is not tolerated."

Brownback's campaign refuses to comment, but as Bruce Wilson notes, it is not only Engle with whom he has ties, but other leaders like Dutch Sheets as well (you may recall how Sheets' prayers led to the capture of Saddam Hussein):

Former US Senator Brownback told the Topeka, Kansas Lawrence Journal-World, "He [Engle] said a number of things that I'm troubled by," and Brownback added, "I haven't had much association with him for some period of time." In Sam Brownback's lexicon, 'some period of time' would have to mean 'at least ten months' because back in December 2009 Brownback could be found up onstage with Lou Engle, who led the Family Research Council's nationally broadcast "Prayercast" against health care reform.

Brownback's disavowal elides his long association with Lou Engle. As I broke here at Talk To Action in late December 2009, Lou Engle says he and Sam Brownback lived together for 7 months in a rented Washington DC condominium. And, in footage from Brownback's 2007 appearance at Lou Engle's Nashville TheCall rally, evangelist Dutch Sheets stated that Brownback, whom Sheets called a personal friend to both Sheets, Lou Engle, and other mutual associates, had already attended four of Lou Engle's TheCall events.

If Brownback has "concerns" about Engle, it sure didn't stop him attending at least four of his The Call events.

Jackson, ADF Take Fight Against DC Marriage to SCOTUS

According to CBN News, Harry Jackson and the Alliance Defense Fund are taking their crusade against marriage equality in Washington, DC to the Supreme Court:

Religious opponents of same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C. represented by the Alliance Defense Fund has appealed the issue of gay marriage in the nation's capital city to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Christian leaders led by Bishop Harry L. Jackson say they filed a petition with the high court on Tuesday, asking the justices to take their case. The group plans to hold a news conference Wednesday.

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