As we noted earlier this month, Ben Stein—of Richard Nixon and “Ferris Bueller” fame—is starring in an anti-evolution documentary called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” While the movie isn’t set to be released until February, scientists are already accusing its producers of dishonesty—and not for claiming that “Intelligent Design” creationism is a valid scientific theory. As various outlets are reporting, several scientists well known for refuting anti-evolution activists say the producers for the film hid their agenda, portraying the project innocently as “Crossroads: The Intersection of Science and Religion” (still listed on the web site of the supposed production company).
From the New York Times:
If he had known the film’s premise, Dr. Dawkins said in an e-mail message, he would never have appeared in it. “At no time was I given the slightest clue that these people were a creationist front,” he said.
Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist who heads the National Center for Science Education, said she agreed to be filmed after receiving what she described as a deceptive invitation.
“I have certainly been taped by people and appeared in productions where people’s views are different than mine, and that’s fine,” Dr. Scott said, adding that she would have appeared in the film anyway. “I just expect people to be honest with me, and they weren’t.” …
Walt Ruloff, a producer and partner in Premise Media [producer of “Expelled”], also denied that there was any deception. Mr. Ruloff said in a telephone interview that Rampant Films [which approached the scientists as producers of “Crossroads”] was a Premise subsidiary, and that the movie’s title was changed on the advice of marketing experts, something he said was routine in filmmaking. …
Another scientist who was, P. Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, said the film’s producers had misrepresented its purpose, but said he would have agreed to an interview anyway. But, he said in a posting on The Panda’s Thumb Web site, he would have made a “more aggressive” attack on the claims of the movie.
As for Stein, who rails in the movie against the scientific establishment’s supposed unsavory suppression of creationism, he claims innocence, adding that if he had his druthers, the movie would be called “From Darwin to Hitler”—an homage, perhaps, to the late televangelist D. James Kennedy.
The Right passed a milestone this month, although nobody appeared to notice. Last September, anti-immigrant groups called for a boycott of Miller beer products after the company co-sponsored a pro-immigrant rally in Chicago. “The last thing we need is more illegal aliens driving drunk and killing American citizens,” said Jason Mrocheck of WeHireAliens.com. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about it; a short (if ominous) news item on Miller importing South American beer brands is the only update on MillerBoycott.com since they announced “Phase II” of the boycott on September 26, 2006.
But it seems that enemies of “the High Life” never sleep. The Catholic League is calling for a brand new—and, apparently, completely unrelated—boycott of Miller beer for its sponsorship of the Folsom Street Fair, a leather-themed parade in San Francisco. Yesterday we tracked how a press release from Concerned Women for America—claiming a festival flyer, a blue homage to Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” was an “unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers”—was picked up by other religious-right groups and then Fox News. The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue was quick to join in, warning that Miller “knows the stakes,” but even when the company pulled its name from the poster, it wasn’t enough:
“Miller’s response (some might find mocking the Last Supper offensive?), while limp, would normally have been enough to get us off their back. But we have subsequently learned that some of the monies being raised at this event are being funneled to a notoriously anti-Catholic and misogynist group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (click here). After this development was brought to the attention of Miller, spokesman Julian Green responded that Miller was standing by the event. That’s fine with us. We just hope he knows that it really is ‘Miller Time.’”
This morning on Fox News, Donohue announced his boycott over the participation in the fair of a group of drag queens who perform comedy skits dressed like nuns. From another press release:
“Accordingly, Miller leaves us with no options: we are calling on more than 200 Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu organizations to join with us in a nationwide boycott of Miller beer. We feel confident that once our religious allies kick in, and once the public sees the photos of an event Miller is proudly supporting, the Milwaukee brewery will come to its senses and pull its sponsorship altogether. If it doesn’t, the only winners will be Anheuser Busch and Coors.”
This isn’t the first Catholic League boycott—Donohue has lifted his battle cry in the past against corporations including Wal-Mart, Disney, Target, Showtime, Fox, Calvin Klein, and NordicTrack, as well as the Jewish Museum, Madonna, and the entire city of San Francisco. Certainly Donohue is quick to make his “beef” known via press release, but whether his army of “over 200 religious groups” is any more than a Potemkin backlash has yet to be proven.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the questions some readers may have about a Mormon candidate. But Romney apparently blames the media and those “who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others”:
[Q.] How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?
I don't know that there's been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, "Far be it from me to suggest that we don't have the same values and the same objectives."
[Q.] Have you seen changes between 1968, when your father ran for President, and now?
In terms of the relationship between the faiths, I don't see any particular differences. I know the media today focus far more on people of faith. In some circles, the bias against believers is pronounced. There are some people who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others. So people of faith are routinely scrutinized in a way they were not when my dad ran in 1968.
Blaming the media for questions about Romney’s religion is something we’ve seen before (although blaming people who want to “replace all religion” with “secularism” may be a newer one). But if Romney is looking for someone to blame, perhaps he should start with the religious-right activists he’s been trying hard to court. As we posted before:
A prominent and powerful evangelical Christian leader, James Dobson, said yesterday that the Mormon faith practiced by Governor Romney of Massachusetts could pose a serious obstacle if Mr. Romney makes a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
"I don't believe that conservative Christians in large numbers will vote for a Mormon but that remains to be seen, I guess," Mr. Dobson said on a syndicated radio program hosted by a conservative commentator, Laura Ingraham.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's public-policy arm: "But he's gotta close the deal. Only Romney can make voters comfortable with his Mormonism. Others cannot do it for him."
Selecting presidential candidate Mitt Romney as its May commencement speaker has riled some of Regent University's students and alumni who say his Mormon faith clashes with the school's bedrock evangelical Christianity.
"What we're against is the fact that Mormonism is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Christian values and what we believe," said Doug Dowdey, a Virginia Beach pastor who said he graduated from Regent's divinity school last year.
How many voters does insurance broker Frank Senger of Newport Beach, Calif., represent?
"No way will I be voting for Mitt Romney," he insists. A Republican and a lifelong Baptist, he abhors the thought of voting for a Mormon for president and says "there's more to it than just some prejudice. It bothers me a whole lot that someone that bright could fall for the stories about where Mormonism came from, and all that blather about the golden tablets. If he'll fall for that, do I want him in the same room and at the same table with Kim Jong-il of North Korea or Ahmadinejad from Iran?"
While some evangelical Christians are defending the presidential candidacy of Mormon Mitt Romney from an attack by Al Sharpton, another prominent pastor is going further in his condemnation – saying a vote for the former Massachusetts governor is a vote for Satan.
That's the word from Bill Keller, host of the Florida-based Live Prayer TV program as well as LivePrayer.com.
"If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!" he writes in his daily devotional to be sent out to 2.4 million e-mail subscribers tomorrow.
Larry Gordon, senior pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, said his initial instinct was to rule out Mr. Romney because of his faith. But after his son, who is also a pastor at the church, came away impressed by Mr. Romney after an event, he began to examine him more closely.
“If nobody better comes along, I’m going to vote for him,” Mr. Gordon said. “But I’m hoping somebody better comes along.”
Richard Land isn’t the only religious-right leader carrying water for Fred Thompson following James Dobson’s anti-endorsement of the former senator and TV prosecutor. Gary Bauer—a former senior vice president at Dobson’s Focus on the Family and former president of the Focus spin-off Family Research Council—called Dobson’s comment’s unhelpful in avoiding the “nightmare scenario” of a Giuliani-Clinton race.
Bauer has been a Thompson booster for a while now. Back in April, Bauer was one of the first to urge Thompson to run, saying that religious-right favorites Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback had dim electoral prospects. In July, Bauer was quick to call reports of Thompson’s lobbying for a pro-choice group a “nonissue,” and in August, Bauer was again out front trying to deflect a potential hazard after Thompson appeared to retract support for a federal anti-gay marriage amendment, although these efforts weren’t enough to sway an endorsement from the influential Arlington Group, which includes both Dobson and Bauer as well as Land and occasional Thompson-booster Tony Perkins.
Now, as Dobson, Perkins, and others have backed away from Thompson, the best Bauer can do is say that such leaders are taking the approach of “Let the marketplace choose which one ends up being the best candidate.” “It’s a very fluid situation, and it’s possible that a very significant number of people will say, ‘I’m going to work with all of them and wait,’” he added.
In the meantime, Bauer wants to narrow that marketplace down, calling on second-tier candidates—like Huckabee and Brownback—to withdraw:
"[W]e've got a bunch of other candidates who can't get above five percent -- and some of them are very good [and] are saying things we like. But the longer they stay in the race, the more likely [it] is we are going to wake up next year with nobody we can vote for," he says.
Of course, at this point in his own second-tier presidential campaign in 2000, when Bauer was 45 points down from then-Gov. George W. Bush, he had a different idea: “I intend to be the last guy standing.”
[Bauer] said he’s listening to the “marketplace” and it’s telling him: “Go, Gary, go.” (Washington Times, “Bauer not deterred by polls,” 11/1/1999)
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