Miranda Blue's blog

Perkins: LGBT-Affirming Christians Committing 'Heresy'

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was not impressed with New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s opinion piece this weekend on the growing body of theological work arguing for the acceptance of homosexuality within the church. In a column for the Christian Post yesterday (later approvingly reprinted in the anti-gay screed outlet BarbWire), Perkins argues that Bruni takes on “a tone of fascism” and that Christians who make biblical arguments for the acceptance of homosexuality are, in fact, committing “heresy.”

Perkins adds a dig at Protestant denominations that affirm same-sex relationships, saying that they are "becoming more like social clubs and liberal foundations than proclaimers of a faith delivered with clarity and finality, once for all.”

Woven throughout Bruni's comments is a tone of fascism, a barely-disguised warning that if Evangelical Protestants and orthodox Catholics don't bend in their theology and in their daily lives, they will be "made" to.

Theological history is repeating itself today with respect to homosexuality. Myriad scholars have demonstrated how fallacious are the arguments of those who wish to render clear biblical teaching obsolete.

In other words, heresy is not new. The first three chapters of the Book of Revelation are a series of indictments by Jesus Himself of churches that were already - at the end of the first century - falling away from the truth of the Gospel.

Bruni grants no possibility that there is a rich, articulate, persuasive, and sound literature by Christian theologians demonstrating how clear and unchanging is the Bible's teaching on same-sex intimacy, marriage, and human sexuality in general. He is disinterested in such, and instead appeals to outliers like David Gushee and Matthew Vines. And in a particularly desperate move, he notes that the "United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" have all affirmed same-sex relationships. True, but these historic denominations are no longer mainstream. They are dying, becoming more like social clubs and liberal foundations than proclaimers of a faith delivered with clarity and finality, once for all (those are biblical phrases, Mr. Bruni; Mssrs. Gushee and Vines would know them).

Furthermore, it is clear from two millennia of Christian history that the church has always been infiltrated by false teachers. The Savior warned of them, and the milieu of theological conflict intrinsic to the New Testament, a canon of books composed both to instruct as to the truth and warn as to its distortions, makes clear that error is omnipresent in a fallen world - even as the truth, attacked as it continually is, remains sure, fixed, and unchanging.

Mr. Bruni, my Evangelical and orthodox Catholic peers have a message for you: We will not be "re-educated," nor will we be silent. We are not going away. We love you too much to affirm sin in any fashion. We condemn any vitriol you receive from those who, outraged by your dismissive and hostile column, call you names or worse. And we love you too much to reduce Christian faith to simply being "nice" or affirming what the God of Creation and of the Bible says is un-affirmable.

Sin is sin. Our sin. Your sin. God sets the standard, not us. His standard is not unclear or subjective or ambivalent.

It's your decision as to how to respond to it. We've made ours.

With Court-Stripping Scheme, Ted Cruz Embraces Roy Moore School Of Constitutional Law

Ted Cruz raised more than a few eyebrows last week when, barely a week into his presidential run, he proposed a radical plan to strip federal courts of the ability to decide cases involving marriage equality.

As Esquire’s Charles Pierce notes, Cruz is echoing a time-honored rallying cry of people who are losing a battle in the federal courts: “Previous attempts include trying to remove the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over cases in a number of instances, including those involving school prayer, school busing, abortion, and pornography.”

The strategy has also been used in recent memory by another prominent player in t​oday’s marriage equality debate: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Back in 2004, shortly after Moore was removed from his first stint in the court after he defied a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, he worked with attorney Herb Titus to draft a bill that would have stripped jurisdiction over all such cases from the federal courts.

The bill, which would have barred federal courts from ruling on cases challenging officials who recognized "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," never made it out of committee, but it managed to garner 37 cosponsors in the House and five in the Senate; when it was reintroduced the next year, it was up to 50 House cosponsors and nine Senate cosponsors.

Despite the bill’s failure to make it off the ground in Congress, it was a publicity boon for Moore. One of Moore’s top financial supporters, the Christian nationalist and southern secessionist Michael Peroutka, spent $12,000 on a campaign to drum up support for the measure and accompanied Moore to at least one event touting it along with Peroutka’s 2004 campaign for president as the nominee of the Constitution Party.

As far as we know, Moore hasn’t spoken publicly about Cruz’s idea to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage issues. But it seems that on this issue, they are two peas in a pod.

An Inside Look At How Taxpayer-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Mislead Women About Contraception And Abortion

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars go toward funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), organizations that often use misleading information to draw women away from seeking abortions. Yesterday in Cosmopolitan, Meaghan Winter published an inside account of the annual conference of one of the biggest coalitions of CPCs, Heartbeat International, revealing the extent to which CPCs are willing to mislead their clients in order to prevent them from accessing abortion.

Winter quotes Frank Pavone of Priests for Life warning that “abortion poisons everything” for women:

[A]t least 10 conference sessions focused on the "risks" of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. During the panel "What's So Bad About Abortion?" Janet Morana and Father Frank Pavone, of the organization Priests for Life, asserted that abortion causes an array of spiritual, psychological, and medical problems.

Pavone said, "Abortion poisons everything" because after an abortion, a woman thinks, "Others can't possibly esteem me, child-killer that I am." Those women, he said, suffer a "failure to bond" with future children, often thinking, "I killed one child; I'm afraid that something bad will happen to the next one." He and the other speakers in the session said abortion increases a woman's risk of miscarriage, cancer, substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence, among other problems.

"The fact that [abortion] dismembers a child, the fact that it goes against everything the human body and human psyche are meant to do when a woman is pregnant is the cause, is the root of all of these other physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual problems," Pavone said.

Conference speakers also gave false information about the supposed risks of contraception:

The importance of framing abortion and contraception through "risks" also came up in the talk given by Bri Laycock, the director of Option Line. In her session, "Answering the Hard Calls and Tough Questions," Laycock recommended that staff answer callers' questions about medical and surgical abortions by saying, "Both options can pose risks to your health," without saying the center is against abortion. She recommended pregnancy center staff present select medical information and disclaimers from the fine print on pharmaceutical packaging to present using contraception as a high-risk gamble. When callers ask about emergency contraception, for example, even if there might be an opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, Laycock said staff can just say it's "not 100 percent effective." She recommended telling callers, "You might not be at a fertile time in your cycle, and it's not worth taking hormones for no reason."

Throughout the conference, I asked at least a dozen pregnancy center staff if seeing so many unplanned pregnancies ever tempted them to suggest birth control pills or IUDs. Again and again, they mentioned claims, which have been debunked, that abortion sterilizes and birth control pills cause cancer. "All those chemicals can be dangerous," one staff person told me, and she seemed to believe it.

One piece of advice given to attendees was to maintain two websites for their CPCs, one for potential donors touting their anti-choice credentials, and another for potential clients obscuring them:

In her session, "Do I Really Need Two Sites?" [Heartbeat International’s Lauren] Chenoweth explained that, yes, in fact, pregnancy centers do. She recommended that centers operate one that describes an anti-abortion mission to secure donors and another that lists medical information to attract women seeking contraception, counseling, or abortion. An audience member offered that her center swapped out an anti-abortion-seeming name for Pregnancy Options. "That is an excellent point," Chenoweth replied. "Use a more attractive name to someone who is seeking services."

Finally, Winter writes, the CPC leaders at the conference put a strong emphasis not just on luring women away from abortion, but on bringing them into the church:

Over the course of the three days of the conference, I chatted with a few dozen pregnancy center workers. Multiple women told me it was their job to protect women from abortion as "an adult tells a child not to touch a hot stove." Another oft-repeated catchphrase was, "Save the mother, save the baby," shorthand for many pregnancy center workers' belief that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to convert women. In keeping with Evangelicalism's central tenets, many pregnancy center staff believe that those living "without Christ"— including Christians having premarital sex — must accept Christ to be born again, redeem their sins, and escape spiritual pain. Carrying a pregnancy to term "redeems" a "broken" woman, multiple staff people told me.

One conference attendee, a center volunteer in her early 30s, told me that she has protested outside her state's only surgical abortion clinic for several years. "I don't think it's disrespectful to shout, 'You're killing your baby,'" she said. "That's not saying, 'You dirty whore.'" But she prefers counseling at the center: "When I started, I remember thinking, This is so awesome! I don't have to feel mean, but I can still talk to women!"

Read Winter’s full account over at Cosmopolitan .

Conservative Columnist Warns Of Imminent Genocide Of Christians In US

John Zmirak, a conservative columnist and senior editor of James Robison’s “The Stream” website, warned in a radio interview this week (as he did in a recent columnthat Christians in America are on the verge of being violently persecuted like Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, Jews in Nazi Germany, or Tutsis in Rwanda.

Citing the case of an Indiana pizzeria that shut down after facing backlash after its owners said they wouldn’t cater gay people’s weddings (and which has since received more than $800,000 in donations), Zmirak told Alaska’s Joe Miller that “I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America.”

“It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with?” he said.

He warned that within five years, “we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.”

When a dominant group wants to persecute a minority, the first thing they do is vilify them. You had the dominant secularists in France before the French Revolution spend about 20 years vilifying the Christian clergy; the moment they took power in the French Revolution, they started killing the Christian clergy. When the Turks decided that the Armenians were a dangerous minority almost 100 years ago to the day, they started out with a propaganda campaign saying that the Armenians were all traitors working for the Russian czar; within a few years, they were butchering in the streets and driving them into the desert to die of thirst. Same thing happened in, of course, Nazi Germany, they vilified the Jews, preparing people for the Holocaust. You saw it happen again in Rwanda, where the once-powerful Tutsi minority, they were declared on government radio stations for weeks and weeks, they were called cockroaches, ‘we must exterminate the cockroaches.’ It was repeated over and over and over again and it was followed, of course, by a genocide that in the course of a month or two, killed more than a million people.

I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America. I think the churches have been persecuted before, Christians are being persecuted all around the world by Islamists — and the U.S. government is doing nothing, of course — I could imagine Americans standing by while churches are padlocked and pastors are arrested for being hatemongers, while children are being taken away from their parents because they don’t want them to be taught they’re extremist views.

It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with? Can we close down a pizza parlor for even theoretically being willing to discriminate? Can we get teachers from religious schools fired? They’re going to keep pushing until they hit pushback. And unless there’s powerful pushback from Christians now — not five years from now, when it will be too late, but now — we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.

WND 'Expert': Lunar Eclipse Divine Warning About Iranian Nuclear Deal

Over the weekend, some parts of the world witnessed the third in a series of four total lunar eclipses — or “blood moons” — occurring in the space of about a year and a half, starting last April. And once again, as it did with the previous two eclipses in this cycle, WorldNetDaily brought in its blood moon “expert,” Mark Biltz, to comment on what the astronomical occurrence means for world events.

Biltz, reliably, tied the event to the nuclear deal with Iran, telling WND that the eclipse was a message from God likening President Obama to the biblical figure Haman, who plotted to kill all the Jews in Persia:

Pastor Mark Biltz, the discoverer of the Blood Moons phenomenon, says current events in the Middle East are “totally tied to these Blood Moons.”

“A number of rabbis have said this, that Obama comes across as a kind of Haman figure. Haman we recall was a Persian official who wanted to kill the Jews living within that empire. Of course, the modern heir of the Persian Empire is Iran, now the Islamic Republic. And we have Iranian generals openly saying that they want to destroy Israel. God is clearly sending us a sign reminding us of these parallels.”

WND also turned to End Times author Joel Richardson, who warned that the nuclear deal with Iran would bring about harsh divine judgement against American political leaders in the Last Days:

But Richardson says it is not just Israel that is at risk but the United States. Barack Obama, he suggests, has done nothing less than open the nation to the risk of divine judgment.

“More than any other name, the creator of Heaven and Earth, the God of the Bible calls Himself, the God of Israel. Through His prophets, He has repeatedly warned that a tremendous punishment awaits the vessels through which tribulation falls upon the Jewish people. (Isaiah 10:5-12).

“It is the duty of Christians throughout the earth to warn our president that such actions will result in the most severe punishment when Jesus returns. As much as we all love the various images of Jesus the Messiah gently cradling a baby lamb over his shoulders, the Scriptures also speak of the fact that when Jesus returns, ‘He will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth’ (Psalm 110:5-6).

“While the global atmosphere of increasing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist sentiment may be make it quite fashionable and hip to treat little Israel as our president is doing, the fact remains that the day is looming where Barack Obama, along a host of leaders from Muslim nations and the UN will look into the very Jewish eyes of their creator and judge, and He will render to them the righteous punishment for how they have treated His brethren, the Jewish people,” he said.

“As a Bible believing Christian, we are called to pray for our leaders. Today my prayer for President Obama and the majority of our present government leaders is for repentance. At this point, only a genuine and deep repentance will spare them from the wrath of Jesus, who is coming back to restore the Jewish Kingdom, exactly as He promised (Matthew 19:28).”

Jesse Lee Peterson: 'Black-On-White Violence' Today Worse Than The KKK

African-American Tea Party activist Jesse Lee Peterson has carved out a niche for himself in the movement by telling white Americans that they are living under a reverse Jim Crow under Barack Obama’s presidency.

Peterson brought that shtick to the digital radio show “ Talkback with Chuck Wilder” last week, telling Wilder that “reports of white people set on fire by black people” show that African Americans are the new KKK and are in fact now “worse than what white Americans were back in the past.”

Peterson explained that it is all part of a “spiritual battle between good and evil”:

When you judge evil, when you judge the person, you become like the person you hate. And black Americans have been wimping and whining about Jim Crow laws and the KKK, and most of them don’t know anything about it because they were not around anyway, they’re just going on hearsay. But over the years, they have not been corrected and so now they have become like the KKK and Jim Crow law.

For example, we have seen black Americans – not all, of course – but we have seen them attacking white Americans in the knock-out game. Hardly a day goes by now when some white person somewhere in this country is not being — I mean, they are being attacked by blacks, whether it’s on a metro rail in New York or Philadelphia or here in L.A. We see them killing whites, we see them burning some whites — there have been reports of white people set on fire by black people. And those are the same things that they have been complaining about for years. And instead of dropping their anger and forgiving the way Martin Luther King suggested, they have hated, and now they are worse than what white Americans were back in the past.

Later in the interview, Peterson insisted that instances of “white-on-black violence” are all made up “because it’s literally not happening.”

He went on to blame President Obama for making African Americans “feel that it’s right to attack white people”:

But I have to tell you it is awful when it comes to black-on-white violence, and it’s only going to get worse because Barack Obama, Eric Holder and others used that Ferguson situation and they have created an environment that gives black Americans confirmation or making them feel that it’s right to attack white people. And unfortunately most white people are afraid of being called racist and they are catering to black Americans, they are bringing out the worst in them, Chuck, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better due to the fear of white Americans.

The Right's Favorite Anti-Gay Study Is Discredited Once Again

One of the anti-gay movement’s favorite pieces of ammunition is a 2012 study by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus purporting to find that the children of gay and lesbian people are more likely to suffer negative outcomes, including drug abuse, poor school performance, and child abuse.

As soon as Regnerus’s “New Family Structures” study was released, fellow social scientists began picking apart Regnerus’s data, pointing out that barely any of the people that he interviewed had actually been raised by same-sex couples and that he failed to control for factors like family instability. Regnerus himself has acknowledged that his study didn’t actually say anything about parenting by stable same-sex couples, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-gay right from using it to bolster its case against marriage equality…and Regnerus from providing testimony in court cases against gay marriage.

This week, the Daily Texan, the newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin, published documents it had obtained from an internal review of Regnerus’s study that found a series of methodological flaws to the research.

The findings were summed up by the dean of UT’s College of Liberal Arts, Randy Diehl, who noted that while the school wouldn't conduct an ethics investigation into Regnerus's work, “no policy implications about same-sex parenting should be drawn from the study”:

The post-tenure review committee met again in January of this year and was tasked by Diehl with considering only methodological problems. Based on this charge, the committee found the following, as summarized and endorsed by Diehl: “Valid methodological concerns have been raised. … A key one is this: Because the design of the study ensured that the parental same-sex relationship variable was confounded with the family structure stability variable, it is not possible to conclude that the different life outcomes between the two groups were caused by the parental relationship variable.” Diehl, citing this finding and Regnerus’ original caution that the article did not deal with same-sex marriage legal rights, agreed that “no policy implications about same-sex parenting should be drawn from the study.” But the fact is Regnerus did use those findings in court.

Specifically, UT’s review found what other critics had noted: that the Regnerus study was not about same-sex parenting, but about family instability. From Diehl’s summary:

- The design of the NFS [New Family Structures] study survey instrument guaranteed that any participant who reported that their parent participated in a same-sex romantic relationship would have also experienced some form of family instability.

-Increased likelihood of negative outcomes for children who experience family instability are well-documented within existing scholarly literature.

Nobody is arguing that it isn’t difficult to find large-scale data about children raised by same-sex parents – even Regnerus has acknowledged some of his study’s shortcomings. But the problem with the Regnerus study is that the anti-gay Right continues to insist it proves a case against marriage equality  – no matter how often that interpretation is debunked.

'Constitutional Sheriff' Says He'd Arrest Lois Lerner If She Came To His County

Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, now runs the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that promotes the idea that county sheriffs are the highest law officers in the country and thus have the power to arrest federal officials who are enforcing laws they believe are unconstitutional.

Mack gave an example of this theory in an interview last month with Kerry Lutz on his “Financial Survival Network,” when he said that if he were still sheriff, he would arrest Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who Tea Party groups say targeted them in applications for tax-exempt status, charges that are still being investigated by the FBI.

“If you were still sheriff in Graham County and Lois Lerner paid a visit to your county, would you lock her up?” Lutz asked.

“Well, I would in the sense that I would have to first investigate and prove that she had actually done something to somebody in my county. So, primarily I would conduct a proper investigation and if anyone had been abused, like many that testified before Congress, the Tea Party groups and others that had been abused not only by the IRS, but the IRS had complicity from the FBI,” Mack replied.

“So, if I could prove that they had done that to anybody in my county, if she stopped by, I most definitely would, and hopefully get the support of the county attorney to actually prosecute,” he said.

Mack is currently running for office in another Arizona county, which he hopes to populate with likeminded voters and elected officials, creating his version of a “constitutional” paradise.

Roy Moore Films Fundraising Video For Christian Nationalist Group Run By Neo-Confederate Activist

Earlier this year, as Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered probate judges in his state to defy a federal court ruling establishing marriage equality in Alabama, Brian reported extensively about Moore’s personal, financial and ideological connections to Michael Peroutka, a Republican county councilman in Maryland who has used his personal fortune to fund extreme Christian nationalist causes.

Peroutka, who until recently was active in the neo-Confederate League of the South and once said that he was “still angry” Maryland didn’t secede from the Union, runs a group called the Institute on the Constitution (IOC), which promotes the view that American laws must reflect a certain interpretation of biblical law.

The IOC teaches that the Constitution requires that public officeholders believe in God; that “the promotion of evolution is an act of disloyalty to America”; that “there is no such thing as a civil right”; and that the Maryland General Assembly is “no longer a valid legislative body” after passing laws, such as marriage equality, that Peroutka believes “violate God’s law.” Peroutka argues that one reason the U.S. has strayed from “God’s law” is because the Union won the “War Between the States.”

Peroutka largely bankrolled Moore’s latest campaign for office and has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into groups that Moore founded. In return, Moore has spoken at events at Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution and, last month, appeared in a fundraising video for the group.

Appearing about 2 minutes and 23 seconds into the video, Moore says: “My good friend Michael Anthony Peroutka and the folks at the Institute on the Constitution have developed a course to teach the moral, legal and biblical basis of our Constitution and the principles upon which our nation began. I personally have reviewed this course and found it to be highly instructive, and recommend it.”

The fundraising video also highlights IOC’s “American Clubs,” meant to teach the groups ideology to schoolchildren.

LaBarbera: God Will Punish America For 'The Things Homosexuals Do In Private'

Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera stopped by VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program on Wednesday to discuss the debate over legislation in Arkansas and Indiana that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers in the name of “religious liberty.”

Although both measures still have the potential to license discrimination, each has been softened by lawmakers in the wake of controversy, which LaBarbera and “Crosstalk” host Jim Schneider attributed to the “spirit of Antichrist” in the gay rights movement.

At the end of the program, a listener called in to share her views on the Antichrist. “I believe that there are several Antichrists,” she said, “and I believe one is the gay liberation movement and another Antichrist, I believe, is some parts of the government in Iran that are always talking about destroying Israel.”

“Certainly the spirit of Antichrist is in the movement that is a very assault at how he designed man and woman to be,” Schneider agreed. “Thank you. That is indeed the spirit of Antichrist. And especially when we see the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Peter, the attacks against it, that is a spirit of Antichrist saying that we cannot act upon the convictions that God’s word provides for us.”

LaBarbera responded that this is “absolutely” the case and that there is now an Antichrist-driven situation in the U.S. in which “Christians have to go to the back of the bus.”

Soon afterwards, another listener called in with another biblical question, asking LaBarbera if he ever brings up the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when he’s giving anti-gay talks.

LaBarbera responded that he does sometimes bring up the story of the cities that were destroyed by God as punishment for sin, but that people are often “ignorant” about what that has to do with the United States, where “the things homosexuals do in private, the orgies, etc…are every bit as evil as what we’d done in Sodom.”

“Jim, I think we would both agree that in some aspects America has surpassed Sodom in the evil that it allows,” he said. “We can’t all talk about it on this show, but I mean I’ve been to events that are incredibly perverse in their public events in San Francisco. And the things that homosexuals do in private, the orgies, etc., I think are every bit as evil as what we’d done in Sodom. We don’t know exactly what we’d done but we have an idea from the word of God.”

“So we’ve reached that level and we’re wondering what punishment does God have for us since we’re allowing the promotion of this in our nation,” he warned.

Finally, LaBarbera and Schneider got a call from a listener who said that he was a barber who wasn’t “against homosexuals” but maintained that he had the right to refuse service to a gay person because they might have AIDS.

“I’m a barber by trade and I’m not against homosexuals, I’m just against the lifestyle, so I get a one in my chair, I have the right to refuse not to shave his neck or use any implement that might cause blood because I don’t know if he’s got AIDS or anything,” he said.

LaBarbera, who earlier in the program had said that Christians wouldn’t refuse service to gay people, just to their weddings, didn’t address the issue directly but agreed that gay people have brushed “the safety of people” aside in their “fanatical push for gay rights.”

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