It is no secret that Religious Right leaders have had it out for Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals for some time now, starting back in 2007 when they tried to get him fired for branching out into the global warming debate because they feared it was undermining the focus on their traditional anti-choice, anti-gay agenda.
He certainly didn’t make any friends before the election when he blasted John McCain for selling out to the Religious Right … and now he has even fewer friends among the old-guard right-wing leaders thanks to this recent interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” where he all but admitted that he voted for Barack Obama, said that Dick Armey had good reasons for calling people like James Dobson bullies and thugs, predicted that climate change is going to become an issue on which evangelicals become increasingly active, pledged to work with the Obama administration to find ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies in this country, and admitted that his opposition to marriage equality is “shifting”
GROSS: Let me ask you; you say that you really identify with the concerns and priorities of younger evangelical voters and one of those priorities is uh—it’s more of an acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage. A couple of years ago when you were on our show I asked you if you were changing your mind on that and two years ago you said that you were still opposed to gay marriage. But now as you identify more and more with the younger voters and their priorities, have you changed on gay marriage?
CIZIK: I’m shifting; I have to admit. In other words, I would be willing to say I believe in civil unions. I don’t officially support redefining marriage, from its traditional definition, I don’t think. WE have this tension going on in our movement between what is church-building and what is nation-building, and I lean in this spectrum at times, maybe we should concentrate on building our values in our own movement. WE have become so absorbed in the question of gay rights and the rest, we fail to understand the challenges and threats to marriage itself—heterosexual marriage. Maybe we need to re-evaluate this and look at it a little differently.
Not surprisingly, his statements have generated controversy in evangelical circles, forcing the NAE’s president to assure its board that the organization’s priorities remain the same:
The president of the National Association of Evangelicals reassured the organization’s Board of Directors as well as media outlets this past week that the group remains fully committed to its long-held stance on abortion, marriage and other biblical values after several controversial statements were made by the group’s vice president.
In a letter to the NAE’s Board of Directors, the Rev. Leith Anderson said that the wording of the Rev. Richard Cizik, NAE’s vice president for governmental affairs, during a recent interview with NPR (National Public Radio) “did not appropriately reflect the positions of the National Association of Evangelicals and its constituents.”
“Our NAE stand on marriage, abortion and other biblical values is long, clear and unchanged,” Anderson wrote in the letter to the directors, a portion of which he forwarded to several news agencies including The Christian Post, on Saturday.
He added, “Richard has strongly assured to me of his own support and agreement with our NAE values and positions. This was not understood by listeners from what he said.”
Tony Perkins, for one, isn’t buying it, saying that Cizik “left the reservation a long time ago” and wanting to know why he is still employed by the NAE:
How else can you explain enthusiastic support for what will probably be the nation's most pro-abortion, anti-family president in our nation's 232 year history?
The question, however, remains. If Cizik does not speak for the NAE, as the Rev. Anderson has said, why is he on Capitol Hill representing NAE and claiming to speak for Evangelicals? Is it possible for a human being to come with a disclaimer?
The Institute on Religion and Democracy wants to know the same thing:
"Is Richard Cizik representing typical members of the Assemblies of God, the Salvation Army, or the Presbyterian Church in America, along with millions of other evangelicals, when he suggests, even momentarily, support for liberal issues like civil unions? If not, then why is he NAE's chief spokesman? Should not that spokesman consistently espouse traditional evangelical beliefs?"
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, said, “Mr. Cizik claimed that his views are five years ahead of his constituency, but these views are not anywhere close to Biblical orthodoxy, traditional Christian theology nor the bulk of Evangelicals who ground their faith in the Bible. Perhaps this is why he espouses them in forums to which most of his supposed 'constituency' do not listen.”
Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, “The NAE consists of 45,000 churches, 50 denominations and 30 million constituents. I cannot believe that they are happy to have a spokesperson, who supposedly represents them, expressing views that are contrary to Biblical authority and contradict theological orthodoxy. I think, perhaps, my dear friend Rich has been inside the Beltway for too long and has swallowed too much of the NPR and Vogue Magazine Kool-Aid.”
One has to wonder just how many more times Cizik can get away with repudiating and alienating the traditional Religious Right movement and its agenda before the powers-that-be at the NAE finally succumb to the pressure and fire him.
As we’ve noted over the last few days, the Religious Right has not been particularly impressed with Newsweek’s current cover story "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage" and appear fully intent on continuing their crusade to discredit it for as long as it takes:
Bob Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, believes there is ample evidence of media bias on the marriage issue, but calls this example one of the worst he has seen. Knight says Newsweek published a "cartoon version of Scripture that is a gay activist's dream."
"It would be one thing if people promoting the homosexual agenda just said, 'Look, the Bible says it's wrong. We don't buy into the Bible's authority, and so we don't agree with you.' But to try to take the Bible and make it say something it flat-out does not say is journalistic malpractice," he argues. "You're talking about the religion editor at Newsweek magazine and a cover piece twisting scripture, using every gay talking point out there without any effective rebuttal."
While most Religious Right activists have merely dismissed the piece as an example of propaganda designed to bolster the gay rights movement, some, like Al Mohler, have set out to rebut many of the claims made in the article. To the latter category we can now add Peter Sprigg and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who have penned a lengthy, almost paragraph-by-paragraph counter-point where they seek to rebut the assertions made in the article such as “Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce” with responses such as this:
This is undoubtedly because Jesus encountered many more people who were tempted by easy divorce than he did people who were tempted by homosexuality. The whole argument that "Jesus never mentions homosexuality," and therefore that he must have tolerated it, is ridiculous on its face. Jesus never mentions rape or child sexual abuse, but that can hardly be interpreted to mean that he condoned them. As with those sexual sins, he may have felt that homosexuality was so clearly offensive that there was no point in stating the obvious.
Yep, Jesus knew that homosexuality was just like rape and pedophilia: so odious and abhorrent that he didn’t even have to bother mentioning that they were horrible sins.
Fortunately, we have people like Sprigg and Perkins to constantly remind us that, even though Jesus never actually said that, it's exactly what he thought.
I guess it’s worth posting this because it is kind of newsworthy … and will only become more so when he inevitably changes his mind:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he’s not interested in a 2012 run for president and will seek re-election in 2011.
At a news conference Wednesday with Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s 2009 Republican candidate for governor, Jindal was asked if he was interested in being president.
Jindal’s reply: "No."
He elaborated that he intends to run for re-election as Louisiana’s governor. He did not preclude the prospect of changing his mind, however.
Yesterday we mentioned the gaggle of fringe figures who are currently pushing the “Barack Obama is not a citizen” conspiracy, but forgot to include Alan Keyes and his running mate Wiley Drake who are being represented by the United States Justice Foundation in their own lawsuit. Unlike the other kooks, the USJF is claiming that Keyes and Drake actually have standing to bring a lawsuit because they were on the ballot in California and have therefore been personally harmed by the fact that a man ineligible to hold the presidency has been elected to serve in that office.
But the USJF is not merely concerned about remedying the wrongs that have befallen its clients, it is dedicated to preventing the “irreparable harm” that will befall the nation is Obama is allowed to take office, as it explains in its own convoluted way:
To explain the implications of not resolving the eligibility question before Inauguration Day, USJF gives several possible examples: "If President Obama issues an executive order to rescind the Mexico City Policy and allows the tax dollars of Americans to fund organizations that promote abortions overseas, the door to question the legitimacy of that executive order remains open."
"If President Obama signs a treaty with an unfriendly power or the United Nations, the door to question the legitimacy of that treaty remains open.
"If President Obama signs a bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens, the door to question the legitimacy of that law remains open.
"If President Obama appoints new commissioners to the FCC who bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, the door to question those appointments and the legitimacy of the actions taken by his appointees remains open."
Thus, contends USJF in its lawsuit: "Should Senator Obama be discovered, after he takes office, to be ineligible for the office of president of the United States of America and, thereby, his election declared void, petitioners, as well as other Americans, will suffer irreparable harm in that an usurper will be sitting as the president of the United States, and none of the treaties, laws, or executive orders signed by him will be valid or legal."
"In other words, as long as this case is in the courts, a cloud hangs over Sen. Obama's head. For the sake of our Constitution and our Republic, the issue MUST be resolved!" the legal group said.
So a group of right-wing loons are convinced that there is a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the next president is really a foreigner who is prohibited from holding the office and that it must be exposed and rectified to their satisfaction immediately, or else there will be a “cloud” hanging over Obama’s entire presidency that will ultimately imperil the well-being of the entire nation.
And they wonder why nobody takes them seriously.
The Wall Street Journal reports that right-wing anti-choice advocates are changing the direction of their efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood away from pressuring state and local governments to gut the organization’s funding because of its mission in favor of pressuring them to stop funding to organization because it is too rich and doesn’t need the money:
Abortion opponents are pressing state and local governments to stop sending taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, arguing that the nonprofit group has plenty of cash and shouldn't be granted scarce public funds at a time of economic crisis … [T]he new lobbying effort, backed by conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council, focuses more on economic than moral concerns. The campaign paints Planned Parenthood as a wealthy organization that doesn't need taxpayer help. Planned Parenthood reported record revenue and a $115 million budget surplus last year, and it is building a network of elegant health centers to attract middle-class clients.
The Family Research Council is developing a kit to help grass-roots activists dig through financial reports so they can make detailed presentations to elected officials about the assets and revenue of local Planned Parenthood chapters. The council has sent letters to 1,200 state legislators describing Planned Parenthood's strong financial position and urging "a second look" at public funding.
With a Democratic president soon to take office, "we're very limited as to what we can do" on a federal level, said Thomas McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council. "But on the local level, there are a lot of victories to be had." The group has been courting elected officials who they think would be receptive in states including Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky.
It seems that one of the emerging ideas among anti-gay activists is to try and explain the gay menace in terms that their supporters can easily understand by equating those seeking equal treatment under the law to terrorist who kill innocent civilians.
Last month, Pat Boone declared that “homosexual activists” were just like the jihidists who carried out the attacks of September 11th, only more dangerous:
The jihadists in these organized, hugely funded attacks on our morality and virtue are not Middle Eastern – they're homegrown Americans who actually believe they're promoting a better America by destroying the foundations on which this nation was built!
And just in case that analogy wasn’t clear enough, he returned this week to equate the protests over the passage of Proposition 8 to the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai that killed nearly 200 people:
Have you not seen the awful similarity between what happened in Mumbai and what's happening right now in our cities?
Oh, I know the homosexual "rights" demonstrations haven't reached the same level of violence, but I'm referring to the anger, the vehemence, the total disregard for law and order and the supposed rights of their fellow citizens. I'm referring to the intolerance, the hate seething in the words, faces and actions of those who didn't get their way in a democratic election, and who proclaim loudly that they will get their way, no matter what the electorate wants!
Hate is hate, no matter where it erupts. And hate, unbridled, will eventually and inevitably boil into violence.
Then, just for good measure, founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Seamus Hasson got in on the act while discussing his organization’s recent full-page newspaper ad, telling KPFA’s “The Morning Show” host Aimee Allison that protestors are no different than Al Qaeda:
Well, whether it’s an organized movement like Al Qaeda or whether it’s the Al Qaeda-like, um, inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be concerned about, um, radical Islamist violence.
We haven't really written much about the fringe figures alleging a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Barack Obama is not a natural-born US citizen and is therefore ineligible to be President of the United States other than to note that Janet Porter, former co-chair of Mike Huckabee's Faith and Family Values Coalition, was among them because, frankly, the whole thing was ridiculous and driven by borderline lunatics.
But Porter has resolutely maintained her ties to them and dedicated her last six WND columns to pressing her case and has turned her daily radio program into a gathering place for the conspiracy theorists to expound upon their delusions, hosting the likes of Philip Berg, Shelli Baker, and Bob Schulz on multiple occasions in recent weeks.
Just yesterday, the Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit on the issue and Slate covered a press conference held by the citizenship-deniers which offers a telling look at just what sort of people make up this movement:
On Friday, about two dozen of them gathered outside the Supreme Court to talk to reporters, wave flags, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Some of them questioned whether they could prosecute Obama for spending "foreign money" they alleged had been donated to his campaign. One questioned whether Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was the president-elect's real father or whether his real filial relationship to Frank Marshall Davis or Malcolm X had been covered up.
"There aren't a lot of people out here today," admitted Steve Brindle, a Pennsylvanian huddling in the cold. "There are a lot of people talking about this back home. Really, everyone's asking questions."
Robert Schulz, whose We the People Foundation had bought full-page newspaper ads questioning Obama's citizenship, was ready for the high court outcome. On Monday afternoon he asked Donofrio and two other lawyers with outstanding suits about Obama to come to the National Press Club to discuss their next steps. Donofrio didn't show, but Pennsylvania attorney (and occasional 9/11 skeptic) Philip J. Berg joined California attorney Orly Taitz at the podium of the club's Murrow room.
The room filled up early: About half of the small room's overflow crowd consisted of worried Obama skeptics who gasped and nodded at the testimonies of the attorneys and their litanies of facts that the press had covered up. Most members of the media were, themselves, part of the Obama Truth squad. Shelli Baker, the host of AM radio's Morning Song, spent five minutes unspooling a theory that tied Obama to Arab sheiks and world government. "I would be willing to testify," said Baker, "that, indeed, the media has been corrupted by foreign oil money."
Thus corrupted, reporters spent two full hours listening to Schultz, Berg, and Taitz describe their allegations accusing Obama of document forgery, arrogance, radical ties, and "foreign allegiance" to Kenya. "This is the largest hoax in 200 years," said Berg. "Obama knows where he was born. He knows he was adopted in Indonesia. Obama places our Constitution in a crisis situation, and Obama is in a situation where he can be blackmailed by leaders around the world who know he is not qualified."
Slate goes on to report that, after the lawyers had had their say, they turned the podium over to some of their more colorful supporters, at which point an already bizarre press conference when completely off the rails:
Schultz recognized Rev. James David Manning, the Harlem preacher who has called Obama a "long-legged mack daddy," and a member (alongside Jeremiah Wright and Oprah Winfrey) of the "Trinity of Hell." For some reason, Shultz gave Manning a microphone to talk about Obama's parents.
"It is common knowledge," explained Manning, "that African men, coming from the continent of Africa—especially for the first time—do diligently seek out white women to have sexual intercourse with. Generally the most noble of white society choose not to intercourse sexually with these men. So it's usually the trashier ones who make their determinations that they're going to have sex."
Manning grew more intense as he went on. Berg and Taitz seemed to squirm in their chairs; Berg started taking quiet cell phone calls before Manning evoked the memories of Africans who lost their lives "packed like sardines" onto slave ships, now in "a watery grave." "Do you think we want to wake those people up and tell them that the womb of a 16-year-old white girl has produced your redeemer? Has produced your savior? I don't think they want to wake up to that. I think they want to keep sleeping in that grave until true justice might be given."
Not to go all "guilt by association" here, but just keep in mind that Janet Porter willingly associates herself with these people ... and Mike Huckabee willingly associates himself with Porter, praising her in his new book as "one of the main catalysts" for his success in the Republican primary and haling her as among a "new wave of leaders" who will remake the Republican Party in their own image.
Just something to keep in mind should Huckabee decide to make another run for president down the road.
It seems that Richard Land is not just some Religious Right leader and pundit, he's also something of a renaissance man with expertise in a wide variety of area - such as predicting the course of history where, in the future, George W. Bush will be hailed as one of our greatest president:
A prominent Southern Baptist leader has compared George W. Bush to Harry Truman, another president whose approval ratings dropped to the 20s in his final months in office but is now considered one of the greatest American presidents of the 20th century.
"Just remember that you heard it here from me," Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Dec. 6 on his weekly radio program. "He will be the Harry Truman of our time."
Commenting on reports of a debate about whether Bush would go down as one of the worst presidents in the last 50 years, Land predicted that, like Truman's, Bush's legacy will be vindicated by the long scope of history.
That includes the president's least popular decision, the 2003 invasion of Iraq. While acknowledging the entry into war was handled poorly, Land said, the 2007 troop surge has placed the U.S.-led coalition on the cusp of victory of Iraq.
In addition to making America safer, Land applauded Bush for blunting "the metastasizing of abortion" by opposing late-term abortions and research using embryonic stem cells.
But Land isn't stopping there and is likewise demonstrating a heretofore unknown scientific expertise as he explains that climate change is a total hoax:
Richard Land, head of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called global warming a "hoax" and a "scam" on his weekly radio program Nov. 22.
Land attributed fluctuations in global temperature to "cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos" and labeled human activity "a minor contribution to global warming."
"The sunspots have faded, the solar cycle has peaked, the sun is going into a quiescent period and everybody but [former Vice President and anti-global warming activist] Al Gore is cooling off," Land said.
Of course, it is not as if Land has a particularly good track record of making predictions regarding the issues he actually does know something about, as displayed by his repeated proclamations just over a year ago that Fred Thompson was a "Southern-fried Reagan” and that "to see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint,” so it is probably best to take his current declarations with a grain or two of salt.
Faith and Action's Rob Schenck has never been shy about exploiting his interactions, no matter how fleeting, with Washington DC's power-brokers in order to convince his supporters that he is actually influential and that their donations aren't going to waste. In fact, his willingness to dish about his run-ins with legislators is one of the main reasons we monitor him - no other right-wing activist that we know of is as eager to openly share his strategies and activities with the general public.
This tendency of Schneck's should probably be kept in mind by any public officials who happen to meet or otherwise come into contact with him because it is entirely liklely that whatever they say to him will eventually be made public in a form much like this press release he just issued alleging that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has confessed to him that there is indeed a "war on Christmas":
Schenck is a missionary to elected and appointed officials on Capitol Hill and was a VIP guest at the recent US Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony held on the Capitol's West Lawn, near the presidential inaugural platform that is under construction.
Following the ceremony that included traditional Christmas carols played by a US Air Force band, Rev. Schenck thanked Speaker Pelosi for keeping, as he said it, "Christ-mas" at the US Capitol, emphasizing "Christ." Speaker Pelosi politely acknowledged the remark, then pursued Rev. Schenck to tell him she had been "mugged" for doing so.
Rev. Schenck commented, "At first I didn't understand what Mrs. Pelosi was saying, so I simply nodded and thanked her again, but she repeated it emphatically. I realized the Speaker was saying she had paid a serious price politically for allowing the Christmas celebration to go on. She obviously took some political heat for it. For that, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be commended, and I made sure I did so."
Schenck also said, "The fact that Nancy Pelosi said she was assailed for allowing a Christmas observance at the US Capitol confirms the war against Christmas is not a figment of the so-called religious right's imagination. If one of the most liberal, arguably left-wing political leaders in our country, the woman third in succession to the presidency, is getting pummeled for lighting a Christmas tree and allowing Christmas carols on the lawn of the Capitol, that would qualify as a war against Christmas."
Obviously, it is impossible to know just what Pelosi meant - even Schenck doesn't seem to know - but that hasn't stopped him from turning a passing remark into a full-blown press release and using Pelosi's words to further his own agenda.
Yesterday we noted, without much surprise, that the Religious Right leaders like Tony Perkins and Richard Land did not react favorably to Newsweek's latest cover story, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage."
At least I know where Newsweek now stands on the issue. I ask for accuracy and fairness in your reporting on homosexual marriage in the future. Considering your strong support for homosexual marriage, I very much doubt your ability to be fair and accurate.
Likewise, Al Mohler of the southern Baptist Convention has weighed in to complain that it is just another example of the media carrying water for the gay agenda:
The national news media are collectively embarrassed by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Gay rights activists are publicly calling on the mainstream media to offer support for gay marriage, arguing that the media let them down in November. It appears that Newsweek intends to do its part to press for same-sex marriage. Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.
Newsweek could have offered its readers a careful and balanced review of the crucial issues related to this question. It chose another path -- and published this cover story. The magazine's readers and this controversial issue deserved better.
Nor is Concerned Women for America happy with the article:
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, “The Newsweek article is breathtaking in the audacious ways that it distorts and misinterprets the Bible and traditional Christianity. It is astounding that a news magazine would publish an article on theology that is so far off base in its theological credibility.”
Then, just for good measure, OneNewsNow asked militantly anti-gay activist Matt Barber to share his thoughts on the piece and he was predictably was outraged as well:
"This is biblical relativism on steroids," he contends. "You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel."
He adds that the notion that the Bible somehow condones or approves homosexuality, much less so-called same-sex marriage, is patently absurd and borders on blasphemy.
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