Miranda Blue's blog

GOP Committeewoman: Muslim, Wiccan Statehouse Prayers Show Need For Christianity In Public Schools

Last year, the Religious Right largely celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the court ruled that municipalities can open meetings with sectarian prayers as long as minority faiths aren’t excluded and attendance isn’t mandatory.

But the protections for minority religions don’t seem to have completely sunk in for everybody in the movement, as was made clear last week at a Republican presidential forum hosted by the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader. As we noted earlier, the message at the forum centered on claims that conservative Christians are losing religious liberty in America, but that didn’t stop The Family Leader President Bob Vander Plaats from warning that a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa statehouse that morning might cause God to withdraw His blessing from America.

Tamara Scott, an Iowa member of the Republican National Committee who is also a lobbyist for The Family Leader, struck a similar note in her remarks to the forum, saying that the Wiccan prayer and the invocation delivered by a Muslim imam the previous day showed the need to teach Christian-nation history in public schools.

Scott joked that she had prayed for a storm to greet the Wiccan woman that morning, before telling the audience that the non-Christian prayers at the statehouse showed that “when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him.”

“What you don’t know is that yesterday, the imam prayed,” she said. “That one didn’t make the press. You see, when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him. When we fail to teach it in the public school, the history of this nation, the God mentioned in our Declaration, the Supreme Being mentioned in the preamble of this constitution of the state. And we not only don’t teach it, but we surpress it and refuse to allow it to be taught.”

“We shouldn’t be surprised when others do differently and expect differently and think that religion is just about equality, because it’s not,” she continued. “There’s only one true God. And the Bible’s quite clear about what happens when we refuse to tell the truth and we allow others to tell a wrong truth. That’s where we’re at. We’ve been neglectful, we’ve been very neglectful. So no one even spoke about the imam being there yesterday or the Muslims that were all around the center of the capitol, talking and evangelizing about their way of life.

“Do they have that freedom? Absolutely. But the shame is that so little people know the truth about the heritage, the Christian heritage — I’m sorry, Mr. President, but we are, we were a Christian nation and we were founded on Christian values.”

Bob Vander Plaats Warns Of Divine Retribution For Wiccan Prayer In Iowa State Capitol

The decision of an Iowa state representative to invite a Wiccan priestess to give an opening invocation at the state capitol last week put the Religious Right group The Family Leader in a bit of a bind, since although the group was unhappy with the decision, it was that very day set to host four potential GOP presidential candidates at a forum centering on supposed threats to religious liberty in America.

In the end, the group responded by holding a voluntary alternative prayer service in the capitol for legislators who wanted to skip what ended up being a fairly mundane invocation from the priestess. Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats warned that it was a “stunning development” with a potential “spiritual ramification” and quoted a verse from Ephesians about spiritual warfare against the “forces of evil,” but didn’t go so far as to say that the Wiccan priestess didn’t have the right to pray at the capitol.

But in a speech that evening to a forum that included likely GOP presidential contenders Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, Vander Plaats — after declaring the supposed threats to the religious liberty of conservative Christians would be "the key issue of the 2016 campaign"  made it clear that while it was “totally within the religious right” to invite a Wiccan to deliver a prayer at the capitol, it might in fact give God reason to withdraw his blessing from America.

Vander Plaats led into the story by recalling that after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was “red, white and blue everywhere,” churches “were filled to overflowing,” and lawmakers of both parties were joining together to sing “God bless America.”

“Almost 14 years later, where are we at?” he demanded. “Just this morning, in the Iowa capitol, which is totally within the religious right, but you had a state representative invite someone to deliver a Wiccan prayer. Now, you may say that’s religious liberty, but I’d say you’d better be careful if you want to start mocking the God that you’re asking to bless this country. That’s a huge concern.”

William Owens: 'Cult-Like' LGBT Rights Movement 'Intends To Brainwash' Us

Conservative groups are once again gearing up their annual campaign to convince parents to pull their children from school on the Day of Silence, an anti-bullying event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

In an interview with Breitbart News published over the weekend, Rev. William Owens of the National Organization for Marriage-affiliated Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) warned that the Day of Silence is part of an effort by the “cult-like” LGBT rights movement “to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright.”

“Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it,” he warned, “those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”

Supporters of the DOS Walkout include the American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, Faith, Family & Freedom Alliance, Liberty Counsel, and the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP).

In an interview with Breitbart News, Rev. Bill Owens, president of CAAP, said, “What we would like to say is, instead, this will be a day of silent prayer.”

“The homosexual agenda intends to brainwash Americans into believing that homosexuality is alright, but it has become cult-like,” he said. “Let’s make it a day of silent prayer to promote Christianity and faith in general. What’s the difference”

“Those of us who have our faith should be as vocal as those promoting the LGBT agenda – and they are using the same techniques as the Civil Rights Movement,” Owens added. “In fact, they have hijacked the Civil Rights Movement – a movement they know nothing about.”

“But this is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘we the people’ if we fail to act,” he continued. “Until we the people join together on the Day of Silence and oppose it, those who support the LGBT political agenda will know they own our youth.”

Rafael Cruz Continues To Blame Church-State Separation For Violent Crime, Teen Pregnancy

In an interview with Iowa-based conservative radio host Steve Deace on Friday, Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, repeated his frequent assertion that Supreme Court rulings limiting government-sponsored prayer in schools led to spikes in violent crime and teen pregnancy, claiming that until then, the “Bible was the principal textbook in all schools all the way to universities.”

Cruz, who spent the first half of the interview telling Deace that his son is the presidential candidate who most loves America, discussed his work travelling the country to convince conservative pastors to become more involved in politics.

“The church is actually more responsible to the place where America is today than anybody else,” he said. “Because if we go back to 1962 and 1963, two abominable decisions of the Supreme Court. 1962, prayer was taken out of schools; 1963, Bible teaching was taken out of schools. You know, for generations kids prayed in school before starting the day. The Bible was the principal textbook in all schools all the way to universities.”

The “church remained silent” in the face of those Supreme Court decisions, he said. “The consequence of that, we can see it in the statistics. Teen pregnancy skyrocketed after 1963 and so did violent crime, all as a result of taking Bible-reading and prayer out of schools.”

Cruz, as usual, did not mention that rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy have actually been plummeting in recent years, without the imposition of government-mandated religious education.

Cruz also went back to one of his favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 29:2, which he quotes as, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, people mourn.”

“Well, when the righteous, the people of principle, the people of faith, the people that have a moral compass are ruling, we see progress, we see happiness, we see moving forward,” he said. “When we have people that don’t believe any of the fundamental principles that have made America great, we see chaos. But what has happened is this, if the people of principle say ‘politics is their business, I don’t want any part of it,’ then what’s left? The wicked electing the wicked.”

Calling the idea that churches should stay out of politics a “lie,” he warned, “Politics legislates morality all the time. The problem is if we have the wicked ruling, they are going to legislate their wicked brand of morality.”

Penny Nance: LGBT Activists 'Going Around You To Get To Your Children'

In a column today for Brietbart News, Concerned Women for American President Penny Nance joins the right-wing detractors of the anti-bullying Day of Silence, telling parents that the event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is in fact a tool for LGBT activists who “are going around you to get to your children.”

Nance insists that GLSEN is “working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country” and “taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage.”

What if I told you that pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) activists are working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country? What if I said activists were taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage? Most parents do not want to hear this, but it is a reality they must face. Gay activist are going around you to get to your children, and schools are complicit.

The “Day of Silence,” to be held next Friday, April 17, is part of that effort. It is a project of the radical Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which is the leading pro-LGBT national education organization working inside schools in all 50 states.

Here’s an idea: how about GLSEN doing an effort against bullying, period? We could all get behind that. I despise children being bullied for being “gay” just as much as for being obese or for being from another country, or simply being different or for whatever reason. How about we teach our kids, “Be ye kind one to another.”

But these activists are not interested in stopping bullying — they actually want to bully anyone who dares oppose their opinion, as we have seen. The Day of Silence is an opportunity to make sure any other view is completely silenced.

They would use different language, to be sure. They would say they are combating “homophobia.” But they consider traditional Christian teaching to be homophobic, and, therefore, if your child is a Christian, they will be under enormous pressure to ignore their faith in this area or risk intense ridicule and contempt (or, dare we say, hatred).

The most dangerous thing about all this is that schools are complicit in disallowing debate. This is why no parent will be notified of this day or most other pro-LGBT activities in advance. The educational institutions are so politicized that they will and must abide by political correctness at all times.

That is one of the many reasons why parents must stay informed and involved in their children’s education. There is an effort to combat the Day of Silence called the “‘Day of Silence’ Walk Out” where parents are encouraged to keep their children home. Most parents don’t know about it, so we must spread the word. Only by staying involved will we be able to combat these efforts and train our kids to navigate the turbulent waters of today’s increasingly secularized, hostile culture.

NRA Speaker Proposes Adding Semi-Automatic Rifle To US Seal

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an emerging conservative folk hero, got a speaking slot at today’s NRA convention, which he used to rile up the crowd by suggesting that the arrows in the talons of the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States be replaced with a semi-automatic rifle.

Referring to President Obama’s 2008 campaign remark about voters who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” Clarke said, “Now let me say this about being one of those ‘bitter clingers.’ There is nothing else I would rather hold in my hand when fighting government tyranny than a Bible in my left hand that I use to swear to uphold the Constitution, and in my right hand a Winchester rifle, a symbol of freedom and liberty in the United States of America."

"In fact," he continued, "I propose that we change the Great Seal of the United States, you know the one with the American bald eagle holding an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other. We should take those arrows out of the eagle’s claws and replace them with a semi-automatic rifle, preferably one that shoots M-855 ammunition.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms dropped a proposed ban on M-855 armor-piercing ammunition last month after an outcry from gun advocates.

Donald Trump Would Have Negotiated A Great Iran Deal Because He Wrote 'The Art Of The Deal'

Donald Trump told Iowa radio host Simon Conway yesterday that while NBC wants him back for more seasons of “The Apprentice,” he is too busy to film the show because “the country’s going to hell” and “we have an incompetent president.”

Continuing to pretend that he is running for president, Trump took on President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, which he insisted he would have been able to handle better because he wrote “the biggest-selling business book of all time,” his get-rich guide “The Art of the Deal.”

“The deal is terrible, it’s going to lead to nuclear all over the place and everyone’s going to want to have it and it’s a disaster for Israel, I can tell you, it’s a disaster for this country,” he said. “And they just don’t know what they’re doing.”

Jindal: Indiana And Arkansas Controversies Were A 'Dangerous' 'Attack On Our Constitution'

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal continued to try out his anti-big business, populist talking points in speech to the National Rifle Association’s convention today, telling the big-spending political group that is funded by the gun industry that Republicans need to “be ready to stand up to big business.”

He was talking, of course, about the recent decisions of lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas to soften measures sanctioning discrimination under the guise of “religious liberty” – decisions that were made under pressure from corporations wary of doing business in states seen as hostile to LGBT people.

Jindal called the Indiana and Arkansas decisions “very, very dangerous,” saying that “Hollywood liberals and editorial columnists” and “some of the biggest corporations in our country…came together to bully the elected representatives of the people.”

“This wasn’t just a matter of competing policy preferences,” he said. “This was different. This was an attack on our Constitution. It was an attack on the fundamental right to speech and association and the free exercise of religion. It was large corporations, Hollywood and the media elite saying, ‘We don’t care about the First Amendment.’”

“If these large forces, if they can conspire to crush the First Amendment, it won’t be long before they conspire to crush the Second Amendment,” he told the crowd.

“This 2016 election will be an election between elitist and populism. Hillary Clinton will be on the side of elitism, we need to be on the side of the people and their First and Second Amendment rights,” he said.

The 5 Worst Arguments Against Marriage Equality At The Supreme Court

In the weeks leading up to oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of marriage equality cases being heard at the Supreme Court this month, groups on both sides of the issue have been flooding the Court with amicus briefs.

These have inevitably included some very bad arguments from lawyers arguing on behalf of anti-LGBT groups. Here are five of the worst:

5. Gays Need ‘Tough Love,’ Like Smokers Or Drug Abusers

Mike Huckabee Policy Solutions (which identifies itself as a group “backed by private citizens and organizations who support the national policy aims of Mike Huckabee”) and anti-gay “statistician” Paul Cameron’s Family Research Institute tell the Justices that “[h]omosexuality and same-sex marriage are tied to early death” and thus gay people, much like drug abusers, need “tough love” instead of marriage rights.

As with smoking or drug abuse, it would be neither compassionate nor kind to normalize and encourage a known and significant public health risk such as homosexuality. Heightened early mortality risk suggests that homosexual practice (whether in casual or long-term unions) is self-injurious and therefore would put undue financial, emotional, and health burdens on survivors, especially children, as well as society, pursuant to any normalization of same-sex marriage by decree of this Court.

Just as in the cases of drug abusers or suicidal individuals, it would not be compassionate nor kind of this Court to attempt to further normalize and encourage known and significant public health risks represented by LGBT lifestyles and unions. Thus, the expansion of LGBT activity by decree of this Court is likely to proliferate undue financial, emotional, and health burdens upon survivors, especially children, and upon wider society as well. Far from “hateful,” the amici curiae herein hold that deference to the States in the regulation of lawful marriage, as well as federalist restraint and humility by this Court, would represent an act of love. “Tough love,” perhaps, but love nonetheless.

4. Marriage Equality Will Lead To Civil War

While the Texas chapter of Eagle Forum, in a brief written by Phyllis Schlafly’s son Andrew, never exactly says in its Supreme Court brief that a broad ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to civil war, it does draw an awful lot of parallels between the effects of Obergefell and those of the infamous pre-Civil War Dred Scott case.

The Texas Eagle Forum brief warns of “a badly fractious effect” if the Court declares that “the Bible is wrong about marriage,” drawing out “regional differences” similar to the regional divide over slavery before the Civil War. The group warns that, like Dred Scott, “any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.”

In 1857, as now, there were sharp regional differences over a fundamental social issue. But rather than allow Congress to sort the disputes out, the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds and attempted to dictate one solution nationwide about slavery. That poured fuel on the fire, as history teaches. Likewise, any ruling by the Court here that attempts to establish homosexual marriage for every region of our country, thereby declaring that the local voters are wrong, their political leaders are wrong, and the Bible is wrong about marriage, will have a badly fractious effect.

The disunity will greatly worsen if the Court rules that Texas and other southern states must begin performing homosexual marriage. Far from unifying the Nation, as some argue, such a Court ruling would have a divisive effect similar to that of the Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott Court felt that by imposing its view of slavery on the entire Nation, the Court was resolving the conflict. In fact, of course, the decision made the conflict far worse. Likewise, any ruling by the Court that imposes homosexual marriage on Texas and every corner of the United States would cause vastly more conflict, along regional lines.

Texas Eagle Forum specifically argues that the supposedly unbiblical nature of same-sex marriage would “be disastrous for the unity of our Nation” because the Bible is “the strongest link that holds our society together.”

The Bible is perhaps the most unifying force of our Nation.

A Supreme Court ruling that endorses homosexual marriage would directly conflict with clear teachings in both the Old and New Testaments. See, e.g., Genesis 2:24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”) and Mark 10:6-8 (“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”) (ESV). In essence, the Court would be rejecting the Bible as false, and by implication perhaps even disparaging the Bible as hate speech. Whether the large percentage of Americans who respect the Bible would be persuaded by such a ruling remains to be seen. But if they are persuaded, then the results would be disastrous for the unity of our Nation, because it would weaken the strongest link that holds our society together.

3. Marriage Equality Is Bad For Gay People’s Kids Because Right Wing Watch Criticized Robert Oscar Lopez

There was a big splash in the right-wing media when four adults who were raised for at least part of their lives by same-sex couples, most prominently activist Robert Oscar Lopez, submitted an amicus brief against marriage equality.

Lopez cites one flawed study about same-sex parenting and uses it as a jumping-off point for discussing what he speculates is a trend toward things getting “harder, not easier” for children raised by same-sex couples as “gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon."

It has gotten harder, not easier, for COGs [Children of Gays], to the extent that gay marriage has become a broader and more accepted phenomenon. The younger generation of COGs has lived with an enormous amount of surveillance and speech policing by people interested in ensuring that they say nothing to undermine the social prestige of their gay guardians. The younger generation of COGs seems to feel more uprooted from the missing half of their ancestry and more fearful of defying the authority of gay stepparent figures whom they still tend to view as stepparents even if they are fond of them.

COGs are now treated with less dignity, more suspicion, fewer protections and heightened discrimination/harassment/retaliation than they saw before same-sex marriage achieved a level of national success. All of this is emanating from within the gay community, enabled by complacent groups such as COLAGE and emboldened by the gay-marriage equality movement. Put simply, the situation for COGs has worsened as their numbers have multiplied.

Lopez’s main piece of evidence for the “heightened discrimination/harrassment/retaliation” being directed at the children of gay parents since those parents began to gain marriage rights seems to be his own experience being criticized by blogs, including Right Wing Watch, which he details at great length in a separate section of the brief.

2. It’s Okay To Discriminate Against Women, So Why Not Gays?

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate flagged a brief submitted by the state of South Carolina which illustrates at length the concern that the drafters of the 14th Amendment had about it granting rights to women. Since the state at the time sought to discriminate against women, the brief argues, then it is absurd to apply the amendment’s protections to gay and lesbian people who want to get married.

Here’s a representative paragraph:

Nor did the framers and their contemporaries conceive that the definition of marriage consisted of anything other than the union between man and woman. Indeed, the framers insisted upon leaving untouched those state laws depriving women of basic rights upon marriage to a man. Surely then, those state laws exclusively defining marriage as between a man and woman were hands off under the Amendment’s original meaning.

Representatives from the South Carolina solicitor general’s and attorney general’s offices followed up with Stern to clarify that “that their state does not wish to implement the sexist laws outlined in its brief—though it could if it wanted to.”

1. Marriage Equality Will Cause God To Destroy America

Really any constitutional argument you can come up with becomes irrelevant if we are threatened with God’s judgement on America. A coalition of right-wing groups (two of which have close ties with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore), pulled out that trump card in a brief in which they warn the Justices that should they “require the States and the People to ‘ritualize’ sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation.”

The groups, including Public Advocate of the United States and the Institute on the Constitution (run by longtime Moore funder and Maryland GOP official Michael Peroutka) and assisted by former Moore collaborator Herb Titus, assure the Justices that the warnings of Leviticus are still very much in effect:

Should the Court require the States and the People to “ritualize” sodomite behavior by government issuance of a state marriage license, it could bring God’s judgment on the Nation. Holy Scripture attests that homosexual behavior and other sexual perversions violate the law of the land, and when the land is “defiled,” the people have been cast out of their homes. See Leviticus 18:22, 24-30. Although some would assert that these rules apply only to the theocracy of ancient Israel, the Apostle Peter rejects that view: “For if God ... turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:4-6. The continuing application of this Levitical prohibition is confirmed by the Book of Jude: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering 1 Kings 14:24. 41 the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Jindal: Hollywood And Corporations Teaming Up To 'Assault' Christians

The main theme at an Iowa homeschooling event yesterday attended by four potential GOP presidential candidates was what Sen. Ted Cruz called the gay “jihad” against religious liberty in the form of nondiscrimination laws.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.

“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.

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