Kyle Mantyla's blog

Dave Agema Is Warmly Welcomed And Strongly Defended By Fellow Bigot Bryan Fischer

If you are a member of the Republican National Committee who is currently under intense pressure to resign due to your long history of making bigoted anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, perhaps it is not the best course of action to go on a radio program hosted an equally bigoted Religious Right host with an even longer record of making outrageous statements in an effort to defend yourself.

But that is exactly what Dave Agema did today when he showed up on Bryan Fischer's show in order to play the victim and comparing himself to Phil Robertson and Evander Holyfield and others who have supposedly been persecuted for simply telling the truth. For his part, Agema vowed to stand on principle and never to resign from the RNC rather than become a victim of "political correctness."

"Political correctness is taking the place of freedom of speech," Agema told Fischer. "And if you look at what's happened just here in the news media and particularly in Hollywood in the Grammys, they are just shoving this stuff down our throats and very few people are speaking up. And if you do speak up, you can expect to be slammed, and that's exactly what they call it, slamming and jamming, what they're doing to me right now":

Agema, like so many anti-gay right-wing martyrs before him, seems to be operating under the delusion that "freedom of speech" mean that they are entitled to say anything they want without receiving any criticism or suffering any consequence whatsoever.

Randall Terry Defends Anti-Gay Laws: 'The Russians Have It Right'

Just yesterday we added Gordon Klingenschmitt to the ever-growing list of right-wing activists who have come out in support of Russia's crackdown on "homosexual propaganda" and now we can add Randall Terry as well.

On his "Voice of the Resistance" broadcast yesterday, Terry claimed that gay activists "want access to children because they want to recruit them" by exposing them to "sexually stimulating things" and thereby instilling in them sexual confusion that will make them think they are gay.

Which is why, Terry said, "the Russians have it right; we don't evangelize our children into the homosexual lifestyle":

Santorum On Obama's State Of The Union Address: 'This Is What Tyrants Are Made Of'

Rick Santorum called into Steve Malzberg's radio program yesterday to discuss his reaction to President Obama State of the Union address and, like Glenn Beck, he saw in it the hallmarks of Obama becoming a tyrannical dictator.

Malzberg was particularly disturbed by Obama's declarations that "climate change is a fact" and that Obamacare is the law of the land, seeing in those statements a complete dismissal of the Republican point of view. And that takeaway was shared by Santorum, who heard echoes of the recent statement made by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in Obama's speech.

"This attitude is," Santorum said, "we've heard enough from you folks, it's time to get out, get out of the way. If you don't get out of the way, I'm going to do it myself. And this is what tyrants are made of":

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/29/14

Right Wing Leftovers - 1/29/14

  • A new poll shows Mike Huckabee is currently leading among possible Republican presidential contenders.
  • Pat Robertson is launching a new, on-line education effort.
  • Michele Bachmann announces that Tea Party conservatives in the House are preparing to sue President Obama.
  • Gary Bauer was greatly displeased by the Grammys: "[W]hat took place at the Grammys was a perfect example of the culture war that is tearing our nation apart, as well as America's growing virtue deficit. If men and women of goodwill of all races don't step up soon, our budget deficit and growing military weakness won't matter. Our virtue deficit will destroy this great experiment in ordered liberty under God."
  • Stacy Swimp obviously does not understand the difference between the national debt and the deficit.
  • Finally, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire thinks that President Obama is constantly under oath from the minute he took office, so any lie he tells is an impeachable crime.

Beck: 'This Was The State Of The Union Where Our President Declared He Would Become America's First Dictator'

As everyone knows, Glenn Beck is a reasonable and rational man who is not at all prone to hyperbole or wholesale emotional breakdowns, which is why it was so surprising to learn that he did not very much like President Obama's State of the Union Address last night, calling it "horrific from start to finish" and declaring that it is the speech that future historians will look back upon as the moment Obama seized control and declared himself to be a dictator.

"Over and over again," Beck said, "looking us in the eye, he said he would use his executive power to get his way. He bragged about it!" As such, Beck urged his audience to note this day in their diaries so that future generations will know the true history, which is that "this was the State of the Union where our president declared he would become America's first dictator":

Barber: 'We Know [Obama's] Sympathies Lie With These Muslim Nations And Against Christianity'

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Matt Barber and Mat Staver discussed a recent report from Open Doors USA that found that most anti-Christian persecution happening around the world is occurring in Muslim nations.

Barber, of course, used this as an excuse to trot out the standard Religious Right claim that liberals and Muslims are both persecuting Christians at home and abroad because both groups hate God's truth. But the point of the broadcast today was to discuss why American Christians have remained silent while their Christian brothers and sisters around the world have suffered brutal persecution and Barber didn't really know ... but he did know why President Obama hasn't spoken out: because he hates Christians:

Staver: it's one thing to criticize the administration but it's another thing about the church itself. Where are the voices of Christians here in the United States rising to the level of saying that this Christian persecution needs to be addressed?

Barber: Let's parse this out because I think that there are different motives here. When it comes to President Obama, as we discussed in a recent recording of Faith and Freedom, it's pretty clear; for him to criticize these Muslim nations for killing, for murdering and torturing Christians, it doesn't fit the narrative. We know that his sympathies lie with these Muslim nations and against Christianity and against Christians and so it's not surprising that he would choose to be silent. I'm disgusted by it but I'm not surprised by it.

I'm baffled by the silence of the church, as you mentioned, here in the United States and I don't know what the motive of that silence is other than perhaps fear or apathy and it's time for the church to get behind and support these Christians who are being martyred across the world.

So President Obama hasn't spoken out about this persecution because he hates Christians, but Christians haven't spoken out about it either ... for who knows what reason?

We also like to simply note that neither Barber nor Staver have said much, if anything, about this issue in all the years we have been listening to their programs. If Barber is "baffled" by the silence of the church in talking about this issue, he just so happens have a daily radio broadcast and a weekly column that he could be using to combat that, but over the last few years, he apparently hasn't felt that it was much of a priority.

Klingenschmitt: 'It Should Be Illegal To Recruit Minors Into Homosexual Sin'

We can now add "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt to the ever-growing list of anti-gay Religious Right activists defending Russia's anti-gay law, declaring on his "Pray In Jesus Name" show today that "it should be illegal to recruit minors into homosexual sin."

In defending Russia's law, Klingenschmitt explained that recruiting children into homosexuality is "totally illegal in the economy and law of God" and, citing Luke 17, declared that "if you're recruiting children into sin, Jesus says you should have the death penalty."

"It's always going to be against God's law," he said, "not only to be gay but especially to recruit children and cause them to stumble":

Another Religious Right Tale Of Anti-Christian Victimization Gets Thoroughly Debunked

We have seen it happen time and again: some right-wing group issues a one-sided press release about a student supposedly being unfairly discriminated against in school simply for exercising their Christian faith and the entire Religious Right movement immediately flies into an outrage, spreading the story far and wide as undisputed truth. Then days or weeks later, the real story emerges once school officials are given an opportunity to investigate and explain what really happened and it inevitably reveals that the Religious Right version was completely false, by which point it is already too late because the fake version has already been accepted as gospel and just continues to spread forever.

The most recent example is the story of six-year old Brynn Williams, who was supposedly told that she was not allowed to deliver a presentation on her family's Christmas tradition because she brought the star that her family places atop its Christmas tree, which represents the Star of Bethlehem.

Serial fabricator Todd Starnes was among the first to blindly promote the story:

Brynn Williams decided to bring the Star of Bethlehem that adorned the top of her family’s Christmas tree. She also worked on a one minute presentation to explain that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.

“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree,” the little girl said. “The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world.”

Before the child could utter another word, the teacher intervened, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom – the law firm representing the Williams family.

“Brynn’s teacher said, ‘Stop right there! Go take your seat,’” Tyler said. “Bryn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.”

Tyler said the little girl was the only student in the class not allowed to finish her presentation.

“After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses,” Tyler said.

The story was quickly picked up by just about every Religious Right news outlet and reported as truth, but now the school involved, which "withheld comment until district officials could finish an investigation into the matter," has released a statement from the teacher and school officials which completely debunks the Religious Right's version of the story.

The teacher, Tammy Williams, explained what really happened:

On Thursday, December 19th my class was getting our classroom ready for our holiday party that was to occur the next morning. We took longer than normal putting things away to ensure that the desks were clean and book boxes were put away so that tables could be used for our centers. This was normally something we did on Fridays. Because of this, we were running behind and I still had six students who needed to do their sharing. I had a very limited amount of time and needed to make sure all students had time to share. Now remember, this is sharing. They were not oral reports. Students were asked to share a family tradition. It could be anything, not just a Christmas tradition. During sharing, I work with students on looking at the audience and using clear voices. We also work on listening skills and asking questions.

This student was not the last student to present as had been reported. I still had a couple of students after her (which was the Student of the Day and the Student of the Week). When she started her share, she pulled out her golden star that I held for her as she pulled out her prepared speech
written by one of her parents. This was unusual because rarely does a student have a prepared statement to read. As I held the star, the student began to read her statement. I helped her with a few words that she was having trouble with. I decided that I would have the student stop after sharing about Mary and Joseph. I felt that it would take too long and I still needed her to take her question and I had a few clarifying questions for her as well. At this point, I simply said the following, “Ok, stop here and you get one question.” She simply put her paper down and picked a student who asked her a question. I also asked her, “Who puts the star on the tree? Do you take turns?” I even suggested that her dad could lift her up to let her put it on the tree. After that, she put her star away and sat with the class while we finished with the other students. I monitor all students this way. She at no time complained or acted sad. She was as happy as always.

I want to be very clear about the following.

At no time did I ever tell the student that she could not read the bottom section because it was a Bible verse nor did she ask if she could finish. I never told her to “Stop right there!” or “Go take your seat!” or reprimand her in front of the class for sharing from the Bible. It just did not happen. This subject matter was never discussed. I decided to stop her at that point so the other students would get their share in before the bell rang. My students have always been free to share their ideas.

What saddens me is that this story was twisted into lies and brought to the media. I have never sat down and discussed this directly with the family or the student. I am instead being used to push an agenda for the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

The school's principal, Ami Paradise, likewise released a statement declaring that the claims of anti-Christian bigotry made by Advocates of Faith and Freedom were entirely bogus:

Over the past week, I have received countless phone calls and 126 mean-spirited emails from across the country as a result of the claims that the Advocates of Faith and Freedom have made against one of my teachers, the school district, and myself.  These claims are simply not true.

When I met with the parent on December 20, 2013, she shared that she and her husband were upset that their child was unable to finish her presentation and that they thought it was because it contained a Bible verse. There were absolutely no claims of humiliation or bullying by the classroom teacher. No claims that their child was told to take her seat or that she could not talk about the Bible. These claims have been made in the midst of a media spotlight in order to sensationalize a story. The truth is, there were other students left to present before the end of the day, and there was just not enough time. 

Furthermore, when I met with this parent I never told her that her child may not share her beliefs aloud to other students nor did I try to stifle her freedom of speech in any way. I told the parent that I would follow up with the classroom teacher, and I sent her the results of my findings along with the copy of the board policy regarding religion on December 24th, 2013. I have not heard from her since. Not once to tell me that she did not agree with my findings, not once to ask for a classroom change for her child. In fact, with the exception of today, this student has attended school every day since this incident, in the same exact classroom where this alleged incident occurred.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not address the classroom teacher in the center of this controversy-- Mrs. Tammy Williams.  Mrs. Tammy Williams is one of the finest educators I have ever worked with. She is an AMAZING first grade teacher, taught my own son last year, and I would not hesitate to put my younger son in her class. She does not deserve the harassment or bullying that she has received, the questioning of her professional skills or judgment, or the claims that she harmed this child in any way. 

I stand behind Mrs. Tammy Williams 110% and find it extremely unfortunate that the Advocates for Faith and Freedom have irrevocably caused damage to her good name. The days will pass and this story will not be at the top of the news for long, but the damage that it has done to the good names of Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary School, Mrs. Tammy Williams, and myself will be difficult to repair.

We literally cannot even count the number of times we have seen this exact scenario play out over the years as Religious Right groups gin up an entirely fake controversy in order to play the victim, which then spreads far and wide before officials have even had an opportunity to comment. And we will undoubtedly continue to see it happen again and again so long as people like Starnes and others in the Religious Right grievance machine feel justified in pushing blatantly false stories because doing so helps them advance their agenda.

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/28/14

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