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In Mississippi Marriage Ruling, Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier at People For the American Way's blog about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.

This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.

Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.

Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.

In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.

This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.

'Under The Radar': Christian Nationalist David Lane Is Quietly Waging 'Spiritual Warfare' To Save America

On her radio program yesterday, Janet Mefferd interviewed Religious Right activist and Christian Nationalist David Lane of the American Renewal Project about his recent efforts to ensure that right-wing Christian values dominate America's political system, including organizing a world tour for pastors led by Mike Huckabee, putting together a large prayer rally hosted by Gov. Bobby Jindal, and even recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for office nationwide.

As Lane told Mefferd, he generally does not give media interviews because he prefers to work "under the radar" in mobilizing conservative Christians to get politically engaged, which is easier to accomplish when he is not "telegraphing our punches" about what he is up to.

"I generally don't do radio shows or TV shows or speak to reporters because I'm not that interested in public relations," Lane said. "I'm interested in Christian men and women who know the Word engaging in culture ...  We've operated since 2005 largely under the radar ... We want to show up on Election Day with a constituency that will march and engage the culture. And so instead of telegraphing our punches and beating the bass drum of what we're doing, we've been really quietly mobilizing."

Later in the interview, Lane declared that the main focus of his efforts is to reclaim America's Judeo-Christian heritage, which has been "stolen" by the "false God" of secularism.

"This is war," he said. "Spiritually, this is warfare and we have left the Lord and my guess is that He's not really happy at this point with the way that Christian men and women in the country that was left to us" have failed to defend it:

Federal Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.

This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.

Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.

Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.

In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

 In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.

This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.

PFAW Foundation

Mississippi Judge Striking Down Marriage Ban Explains the Role of Courts

Judge Carlton Reeves explains the importance of the courts while demonstrating how important it is who serves on them.
PFAW Foundation

Chuck Pierce: A Black Dragon Is Attacking Israel And Only We Can Stop It

Chuck Pierce, the self-proclaimed prophetic apostle whose claims his prayers are so powerful that they caused earthquakes and captured Saddam Hussein, has issued a dire new warning that a dragon is attacking Israel and only he and his fellow apostles have the power to "silence the dragon for this time period."

And he means all of this quite literally:

When we were flying into Tel Aviv earlier this month, I saw an unusual sunset. The sun, though setting, looked like it was rising from the ground. Above the glory realm hovering on the ground was sky. In the sky was a perfectly formed black dragon! The message the Lord had me to deliver in Jerusalem was: “The dragon is hovering over Israel. There is a birth that is near and the enemy wants to stop what God is birthing. There will be much conflict in the next several months but you can stop the dragon from having his way.”  I went on to speak from Revelation 12. I called Rick Ridings, the leader of the 24 Hour House of Prayer in Jerusalem. Rick had already planned to share an earlier vision of a great fire-breathing dragon circling the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.   He shared that when flames came from its mouth, violence was released onto the Mount (which has been the scene of increasing turmoil over the past several months).  Amazing!

We must stand and turn the enemy from Israel. In the vision, Rick was made to be aware that the dragon’s real intentions were to ignite a much larger and more far-reaching conflagration of violence. Suddenly, he saw two words in the heavens, “NOT NOW.”   His message was: “I saw a dragon on the Temple Mount, but God said, ‘NOT NOW!’” A great foot descended from Heaven, pinning the dragon to the ground.  Then the Lord reached down,  placed shackles on the dragon’s feet, and imprisoned it in the underground mosque at the southeast corner of the Temple Mount.  As this was happening, in the worship room where Rick was having the vision (which has a view of the Mount), the leader was singing from Psalm 149 about the high praise of God’s people “putting kings in chains and nobles in shackles.”  In the days following this, conflict continued and many in the media were predicting an impending huge eruption of violence and the start of a new intifada (“uprising”). 

In a second vision on November 4, Rick had a vision of the imprisoned dragon shrieking and attempting to break out of its dungeon in which it was imprisoned—demon spirits were going forth from its mouth out of the confines of the prison to incite terror.  Rick felt the Lord say we were to ask Him, as the Judge of the Universe, to give a “gag and restraining order” to silence the dragon for this time period.

Bryan Fischer Does Not Understand The Concept Of Double Jeopardy

On his radio broadcast yesterday, noted constitutional scholar Bryan Fischer made the absurd argument that Ferguson, Missouri, police office Darren Wilson cannot face federal charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown after a grand jury failed to indict him, on the grounds that such charges would violate the Constitution's protections against "double jeopardy."

Citing the Fifth Amendment's language that no person shall "be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb," Fischer laughably claimed that meant that Wilson can never be prosecuted for possible crimes related to Michael Brown's killing.

"He was just put in jeopardy of life or limb," Fischer argued. "No indictment was returned. He cannot be subject to the process a second time."

Unfortunately for Fischer, this clause only applies to individuals who have faced trial, as it is designed to protect people from being tried multiple times for the same crime. Wilson, of course, was never "put in jeopardy of life or limb" since he never faced a trial for his actions precisely because the grand jury failed to return an indictment.

Bryan Fischer Says Michael Brown Was Possessed By A Homicidal Demon

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer reacted to a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, seizing upon Wilson's testimony that he felt like he was facing "a demon" during his confrontation with Brown.

Fischer absolutely agreed, saying that "the chances are very good" that Wilson was literally locked in battle with a homicidal demon that was possessing Brown during the altercation.

"I think that at this point there was a demonic presence that was operating inside Michael Brown's body," Fischer said, "activating him, energizing him, driving him forward in this homicidal rage. So when he says he looked like a demon, I think that's because he was looking into the eyes of a demon that was driving Michael Brown to do what he did":

Whose State of Emergency?

This post was original published at The Huffington Post.

On the evening of the announcement that a grand jury decided Darren Wilson, the Missouri police officer who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, would not face charges, two storms were capturing the attention of the American people. One was the strong winds that created havoc from the South to the North, and the second was the manifestation of pain through protest over the grand jury's decision.

Last week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson. States of emergency are generally declared in response to natural disasters or civil upheaval. Last week the Ferguson activist group Hands Up United tweeted, in response to Gov. Nixon's announcement, "Our country is in a state of emergency. And not becuz of protestors."

As other advocates have pointed out, we were already in a state of emergency.

Since that fateful day in August when Brown was killed, we have heard analysis from commentators on television, radio, and social media, in barber and beauty shops, and on street corners, about what will happen in Ferguson after the immediate call for criminal justice. We saw a military-style police crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, another sterile review of our broken policing system, and new and veteran activists protesting, organizing, registering people to vote, and bearing witness to a grieving community's call yet again for change in cities across America where silence is not an option in the wake of the death of another unarmed African American male.

A "state of emergency," we are reminded, was declared when Katrina hit the vulnerable walls of New Orleans and flooded neighborhoods. But we were also in a "state of emergency" after the verdict was rendered in the shooting death of Jordan Davis. A "state of emergency" was evident in the November 4 midterm elections when I saw "democracy only for some" in the ten states where I traveled. Our broken immigration system created a "state of emergency" for families that have been separated, threatened with deportation, treated as collateral damage in political debates.

USA Today recently reported that on average there were 96 cases of a white police officer killing a black person each year between 2006 and 2012, based on justifiable homicides reported to the FBI by local police. Mother Jones notes that according to the Department of Justice's 2008 Police Public Contact Survey, "[o]f those who felt that police had used or threatened them with force that year, about 74 percent felt those actions were excessive. In another DOJ survey of police behavior during traffic and street stops in 2011, blacks and Hispanics were less likely than whites to believe that the reason for the stop was legitimate."

That is a state of emergency.

The 1,700 faith leaders in the alliance of progressive African American ministers I lead, frequently primary sources of support in tragedies like this, are too often ministering to mothers and fathers who find themselves suddenly without a child who was alive and well when the day began. These leaders have been fervently preaching, teaching, counseling, meeting with chiefs of police and other city officials, communities and families about the dual system of justice that is still prevalent in the 21st century. While some live in or near Ferguson and others traveled to Ferguson to show support, more just had to walk out their doors, down their streets, to their corners to see the results of delayed justice.

We were already in a state of emergency because of the gun violence in communities across the country. But today, when African American youth are so often shot and killed, such as the 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio this past weekend, by those who are charged to protect our communities, the climate that attempts to justify the daily reality of racial profiling and African Americans being nearly "four times as likely to experience the use of force" in police encounters, can no longer be tolerated. Yes, we stay in a state of emergency when African Americans receive longer sentences than Caucasians for the same crimes and when the troubling results of new polling show the racial divide on the shooting death of Michael Brown is as wide as the Mississippi River is long.

The decision announced on Monday evening is certainly not the final chapter, but sadly is another chapter in the experience of living non-white in America. Michael Brown Sr. says he wants his son's death to spark "incredible change, positive change," no matter the grand jury's decision. Continuing dialogue and movement on police violence and the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community must happen daily in living rooms, classrooms, places of worship, and work places around the country, for as feminist scholar bell hooks wrote, "[S]ilences in the face of racist assault are acts of complicity." She is right. Today all Americans are being called to speak out against the ongoing violation of the most fundamental right there is - the recognition of being a part of "We the People."

Dr. King said in 1963, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." We are in a state of emergency, a time of challenge and controversy, but not because of the protestors. That state of emergency will continue until we stand, become uncomfortable, and demand a justice system that addresses the manifestation of pain in protest, the further chipping away of respect, and the real state of emergency our country faces.

PFAW Foundation

David Barton Falsely Claims The Average Welfare Family Receives $61,000 A Year In Benefits

As we noted just earlier today, just about every statement that is made by David Barton needs to be fact-checked because, more often than not, the claim he is making turns out to be entirely false.

As if to help drive home this point for us, Barton appeared on Glenn Beck's radio program today and absurdly declared that the "average welfare family" receives $61,000 a year in government benefits, meaning that in many states they earn more than teachers and secretaries.

"Right now, if you are on welfare, you make more than a teacher in eleven states and you make more than a secretary in thirty nine states," Barton said:

Barton's figure comes from a document produced by the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, back in 2012 that was, not surprisingly, entirely misleading.

As experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, this figure was derived by relying on "a series of serious manipulations of the data that violate basic analytic standards and are used to produce a potentially inflammatory result:"

Counts payments to hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and other medical providers — including payments for care for sick elderly people at the end of their lives and for people with serious disabilities who are institutionalized — as though these payments are akin to cash income that is going to poor families to live on.  The single largest area of federal spending in the Sessions comparison is health care spending.  Close to half of all of the spending that Senator Sessions portrays as income to poor households consists of payments to hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or smaller health programs.  The majority of this health care spending is for the elderly or people with disabilities, including end-of-life care and nursing home care.

...

Counts, as spending on poor people, benefits and services that go to families and individuals who are above the poverty line.  As noted, Senator Sessions divides the cost of a broad set of programs by the number of households with income below the official poverty line.  Yet many of these programs, by design and for good reason, serve substantial numbers of low- and moderate-income Americans whose incomes are above the poverty line.  For example, 65 percent of the lower-income working households receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2011 had incomes above the official poverty line.  Many programs do not cut off benefits abruptly at the poverty line, for two reasons.  First, many hard-pressed families and individuals modestly above the poverty line have significant needs; for example, an elderly widow living on only $12,000 a year is above the poverty line.  Second, abruptly cutting off benefits at the poverty line, rather than phasing them down gradually as income rises, would create large work disincentives.

...

Long-term care alone constitutes 28 percent of all Medicaid costs — and a larger share of Medicaid costs for seniors and people with disabilities.  A substantial share of Medicaid spending on long-term care is for seniors who had middle-class incomes for much of their working lives but whose long-term care needs now exceed their ability to pay for that care.  In 2010, private nursing home care averaged $83,585 per year, assisted living facility costs averaged $39,516 per year, and home health aide services averaged $21 per hour.  In 2009, the average long-term care cost for a Medicaid beneficiary receiving such care was $34,579, a figure sure to be somewhat higher today.

By including the costs of such care in the calculation of the average spending per poor household, the Sessions analysis creates a misleading impression that typical low-income families and children receive extravagant benefits.  Providing a frail senior with nursing home care does not mean that the typical low-income family with children is receiving huge amounts of benefits that give it a high standard of living ... Older people, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses incur far higher health care costs than do healthy individuals, but that doesn’t make them “higher income” or give them a higher standard of living than healthier households have.  Similarly, a low-income family with a child who has a serious disability is not “well off” because Medicaid covers the child’s sizable health care costs.  A middle-income household with a member fighting cancer doesn’t suddenly become “high income” when the family’s insurance covers costly cancer treatments.

Once again, Barton's claim is entirely false, as the average family on welfare does not, in any way, receive $61,000 a year from the government.

Yet Even More Evidence That David Barton's History Cannot Be Trusted

Just last month, we wrote a long post exposing the way in which David Barton routinely misrepresents court cases in an effort to support his pseudo-history and promote his cultural and political agenda. Today, we came across another instance of Barton doing the same thing with a different court case while delivering a presentation a few weeks ago at Calvary Chapel in San Jose, California.

Barton was making the case that, until the Supreme Court's decision in Abington Township v. Schempp in 1963 — which Barton also routinely misrepresents — teaching the Bible in public schools had been the norm. To support this point, Barton cited the Supreme Court's 1844 ruling in a case called Vidal v. Girard's Executors, which he claimed declared that no school that refused to teach the Bible could receive public funds:

"We look at Christian schools today," Barton said, "and we think that's alternative education. No, no, no. Christians schools is mainstream education. Secular education is brand new in America. We never had that before. That's the new thing ... In 1844, the U.S. Supreme Court had case called Vidal v. Girard's Executors and what you had was a government-operated school that was not going to teach the Bible and the Supreme Court came back with an unanimous 8-0 decision and the Supreme Court said well, if you don't want to teach the Bible, you don't have to teach the Bible but you do have to become a private school. We're not going to fund any public school that won't teach the Bible.

As usual, if you actually take the time to read this case, the facts in no way support Barton's interpretation.

The case involved an extremely wealthy man named Stephen Girard who, as a childless widower, left in his will large sums of money to the City of Philadelphia for various civic improvements, as well as money to establish a school for "poor male white orphan children."

Among the stipulations Girard placed upon the school was that no religious leader was ever to hold a position there, nor could any specific denominational doctrine be taught:

I enjoin and require that no ecclesiastic, missionary, or minister of any sect whatsoever shall ever hold or exercise any station or duty whatever in the said college, nor shall any such person ever be admitted for any purpose, or as a visitor, within the premises appropriated to the purposes of the said college.

In making this restriction, I do not mean to cast any reflection upon any sect or person whatsoever, but as there is such a multitude of sects and such a diversity of opinion amongst them, I desire to keep the tender minds of the orphans who are to derive advantage from this bequest free from the excitement which clashing doctrines and sectarian controversy are so apt to produce; my desire is that all the instructors and teachers in the college shall take pains to instill into the minds of the scholars the purest principles of morality, so that, on their entrance into active life, they may, from inclination and habit, evince benevolence towards their fellow creatures and a love of truth, sobriety, and industry, adopting at the same time such religious tenets as their matured reason may enable them to prefer.

Some of Girard's heirs then sued on various technical grounds that are not germane to Barton's point, as well as by arguing that prohibiting clergy from working or teaching at the school was a violation of both the Constitution and the Common Law because it discriminated against Christianity.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected this argument:

All that we can gather from his language is that he desired to exclude sectarians and sectarianism from the college, leaving the instructors and officers free to teach the purest morality, the love of truth, sobriety, and industry, by all appropriate means, and of course including the best, the surest, and the most impressive. The objection, then, in this view, goes to this -- either that the testator has totally omitted to provide for religious instruction in his scheme of education (which, from what has been already said, is an inadmissible interpretation), or that it includes but partial and imperfect instruction in those truths. In either view can it be truly said that it contravenes the known law of Pennsylvania upon the subject of charities, or is not allowable under the article of the bill of rights already cited? Is an omission to provide for instruction in Christianity in any scheme of school or college education a fatal defect, which avoids it according to the law of Pennsylvania? If the instruction provided for is incomplete and imperfect, is it equally fatal? These questions are propounded because we are not aware that anything exists in the Constitution or laws of Pennsylvania or the judicial decisions of its tribunals which would justify us in pronouncing that such defects would be so fatal. Let us take the case of a charitable donation to teach poor orphans reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and navigation, and excluding all other studies and instruction; would the donation be void, as a charity in Pennsylvania, as being deemed derogatory to Christianity? Hitherto it has been supposed that a charity for the instruction of the poor might be good and valid in England even if it did not go beyond the establishment of a grammar school. And in America, it has been thought, in the absence of any express legal prohibitions, that the donor might select the studies, as well as the classes of persons, who were to receive his bounty without being compellable to make religious instruction a necessary part of those studies. It has hitherto been thought sufficient, if he does not require anything to be taught inconsistent with Christianity.

Looking to the objection therefore in a mere juridical view, which is the only one in which we are at liberty to consider it, we are satisfied that there is nothing in the devise establishing the college, or in the regulations and restrictions contained therein, which are inconsistent with the Christian religion or are opposed to any known policy of the State of Pennsylvania.

This view of the whole matter renders it unnecessary for us to examine the other and remaining question, to whom, if the devise were void, the property would belong, whether it would fall into the residue of the estate devised to the city, or become a resulting trust for the heirs at law.

Upon the whole, it is the unanimous opinion of the Court that the decree of the Circuit Court of Pennsylvania dismissing the bill, ought to be affirmed, and it is accordingly.

Barton's representation of this case is entirely false, as it had literally nothing to do with the teaching of the Bible nor any requirement that schools must do so in order to receive public funds.

Despite the fact that his claims are totally false, Barton will nonetheless continue to make them in future presentations, secure in the knowledge that his Religious Right supporters will never hold him accountable for his misinformation and misrepresentations.

Fischer: Banning 'Stop And Frisk' Is 'A Hate Crime Against Black Citizens'

On "Meet The Press" yesterday, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson had a heated exchange on the issue of police violence in black communities. On his radio show today, Bryan Fischer predictably sided with Giuliani on the issue, declaring that banning the use of "stop and frisk" policing was committing a hate crime against black people.

Fischer, whose love of black men is well established, asserted that since most of those arrested under "stop and frisk" were black, the people who were most protected by "stop and frisk" were other black people.

"These areas were riven with black-on-black crime," Fischer said. "Stop and frisk started to bring those numbers down. When you go away from stop and frisk ... you are endangering black citizens. It's like a hate crime against black citizens. You are exposing them to risk by removing a law enforcement tool":

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Glenn Beck Calls For Department Of Education To Be Shut Down Based On Facebook Mom's Anecdote

A rather manic Glenn Beck spent an entire segment of his radio broadcast today speaking with a woman who posted a message on his Facebook page about how her daughter's kindergarten teacher had reportedly told her students not to listen to anyone who was not their teacher. Even worse, this teacher was also allegedly refusing to honor the pilgrims during a class segment on Thanksgiving on the grounds that they were "terrorists."

Beck, of course, was absolutely infuriated by these anecdotes, saying there were analogous to the Hitler Youth and  declaring that the only solution was to get rid of the Department of Education entirely.

"There is no reform that is going to be good enough," Beck announced. "You have to shut down the Department of Education. It must be turned off ... The only way is to shut down the machine. You have to reboot the entire system and wipe the hard drive. That's the only way":

Fischer: Impeachment Campaign Should Copy The Gay Rights Movement

On his Friday radio broadcast, Bryan Fischer said that conservatives need to keep talking about impeaching President Obama over his executve action on immigration in order to bring about the "social change" necessary to make it acceptable, just like gay activists did with the issue of homosexuality.

"I'll give you a perverse example," Fischer said. "The homosexual lobby, they said we want to overhaul straight America. We want to turn them into thinking this is not aberrant sexual deviant behavior. We want them to think this is wonderful. How do we do that? Well, number one, we just use the word 'homosexual' over and over and over again. We just keep talking about homosexual, homosexual, homosexual, homosexual. We get people accustomed to it. We get them used to it, so we get past the shock factor of what the word homosexual actually means. They say don't let them think about what homosexuals actually do, that will gross them out, just use the word homosexual over and over and over again and eventually people will get used to it. It will become normal, it will become part of kind of the lingo."

"Well that's exactly, I believe, in a positive sense, what we need to do with impeachment," he said. "Let's just keep talking about impeachment all the time. Let's make it a normal part of the political discourse to consider impeachment":

Glenn Beck Seeks To Become The Walt Disney Of Jesus Stories

Last week, Glenn Beck hosted an hour-long, commercial-free television special during which he discussed the myriad health problems he had faced in recent years, with the big takeaway being that he has decided to shift the focus of his company toward telling stories in an effort to change the culture.

To that end, Beck's company has announced that it is producing on a family program called "History House" and a scripted drama about Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, as well a film about a warrior Santa tasked with protecting Jesus Christ and another super-secret Spanish-language film called "The Revolutionary" that will also apparently be about Jesus.

In order to fund all of these projects, Beck is selling t-shirts and various pieces of artwork, as well as tickets to a "Keys to the Kingdom" event where, for $5000, attendees will get to spend an entire day at Beck's studio where they will have an opportunity to look behind the scenes at all of the projects that Beck has in the works.

Beck spent the last segment of his radio broadcast promoting these fundraising efforts along with Ben McPherson, whom Beck has hired to bring all of his visions to life, and the two explained that the fundamental purpose behind every project they do is to turn Beck and his The Blaze network into the Walt Disney of Jesus stories.

"I'm modeling everything on Disney," Beck said, explaining that his network was built in order to have a platform from which to spread his vision and stories, all of which are going to be about Jesus in one way or another. "We are driven by telling the story of Christ in every way we possibly can."

"It shouldn't be overt," McPherson added, "but it should always point to him in some way."

"You will always see in everything that we do, there will always be something that you go 'oh my gosh, look at that, I wonder if they knew [that was a reference to Jesus]?'" Beck said. "Yes. Yes we did. Yes we did."

Daubenmire: Christians Can Never Compromise On Allowing Gays To 'Come Out Of The Closet'

On his "News With Views" commentary today, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire made the case that conservative Christians can never compromise one iota when it comes to homosexuality, which he said should be a criminal offense.

As Daubenmire explained, once Christians compromised on God's standard of "no homosexuality [and] sodomy is a crime" by agreeing to allow gay people to "come out of the closet and be recognized," it became impossible to stop gay marriage.

"The church is rot with compromise," Daubenmire said. "Values we used to stand for we now compromise because why? We think maybe God was a little bit crazy back in those old days when he made some of those rules ... Compromise isn't a good thing. How do we know that? Because the Lord himself said, 'I change not. I'm the same yesterday, today, and forever.' He is a solid rock. He doesn't compromise. And neither should we on values that matter. Compromise is deadly, folks."

Just to clarify the point that Daubenmire is making here, he is saying that Christians can never compromise on God's rules, even the Old Testament ones that might seem "a little bit crazy" ... like Leviticus 20:

If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Beck: The AP 'Just Raped Bill Cosby' By Asking About The Sexual Assault Allegations

Last night, the Associated Press released an interview that one of its reporters recently conducted with Bill Cosby in which the comedian refused to comment on the multiple allegations of sexual assault that have been leveled against him, after which he asked that any footage of him refusing to comment be cut from the interview.

Glenn Beck discussed to topic on his radio broadcast today and lashed out at the media, saying that "journalism is the most dishonorable, dishonest, callous, cynical, mean, stupid, stupid people and industry I have ever seen" and fuming that Cosby's reputation is being ruined because he is being unfairly vilified in the court of public opinion.

This is, of course, particularly ironic coming from someone like Beck, who is currently being sued for having spent several days in 2013 publicly accusing one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing of being an Al Qaeda terrorist responsible for that very bombing.

Cosby himself admitted during the exchange in question that "we didn't say that up-front [that questions regarding the allegations were off limits] because we thought that AP had the integrity to not ask" and the AP also clarified that it "had made no agreement to avoid questions about the allegations or to withhold publishing any of his comments at any time."

Despite being totally wrong about the very issue that served as the foundation of his entire rant, Beck nevertheless blasted the AP for asking Cosby about the allegations and then releasing the footage of him refusing to comment, saying that by doing so, "you've just raped Bill Cosby."

"You want to talk about rape? That's media rape, right there," Beck said. "You said you would not do that. Since when does your 'no' mean 'yes'? Do you know the definition of 'no,' sir? You've just raped Bill Cosby. You said you wouldn't do it. You just did it and then you blamed it on him. My gosh, maybe we should have a lesson on rape":

Glenn Beck Is Always Two Years Ahead Of Everyone Else

All of Glenn Beck's programming yesterday was dedicated to the message "I Choose Hope" because, as he explained on his television program last night, very bad things are coming in the next two years and so he and his audience need to "prepare our hearts" in order to be ready to save this nation when things fall apart.

"I know I'm ahead of the parade on this," Beck said, "and I'm asking you to go with me because I usually am, hopefully, two years ahead in this case of bad things happening. And I always look like an idiot for about a two year period, but I'm telling you, bad things are coming and when they do [we have to be] spiritually ready to help people with they are surrounded by darkness and shadows":

'Ex-Gay' Activist Says Nobody Is Born Gay, They Are Just Born With A 'Sensitive Temperament'

"Ex-gay" activist Christopher Doyle was a guest on the American Family Association's "Today's Issues" radio broadcast this morning where he informed hosts Tim Wildmon and Ed Vitagliano that nobody is born gay but rather some people are simply born with a "sensitive temperament" that makes them think they are gay.

"There's no such thing as a gay gene or gay hormones or gay brain. Those studies have been debunked," Doyle said. "What the sensitive temperament does is it makes the client more vulnerable to experiencing these hurts and this lack of attachment and bonding growing up. And whenever they get to puberty, they start unconsciously sexualizing all those emotional need to the same sex."

Doyle, who works with the "ex-gay" group Voice of the Voiceless, then continued to lay out his theory with an even more confusing explanation about how young boys who do not know other boys while growing up then become sexually attracted to boys instead of girls when they hit puberty.

"It's really the psyche's way of saying, 'Hey, I want to know the same sex and I want to get to know them so therefore I'm sexualizing this emotional need because of that psychological drive," he said. "But in actuality, if you look underneath the surface, what you see in these individuals is they have a desperate longing to have emotional intimacy with the same sex and that why they're sexually attracted. It's not really attraction, it's really an emotional longing to have that relationship with a man and that's what's really going on there:"

Beck: Obama's Immigration Action And Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Will Lead To A Race War

Glenn Beck opened his television program last night with a monologue in which he warned that if President Obama taxes executive action on immigration in the same week that a grand jury decision regarding the possible indictment of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown is expected, it will lead to an all-out race war in America and the rise of a "strong man" dictator.

Beck has been warning that Obama is trying to foment a race war for well over a year now, and last night he asserted that the only possible reason why Obama would take a controversial executive action at such a time as this is because he wants the nation to be torn apart along racial lines.

A lack of an indictment in the Brown killing will incite the Left, Beck warned, while Obama's executive order will incite the Right ... and when that happens, all hell will break loose.

"When you have everybody fighting and you have race involved and people are scared, isn't this usually when a strong man steps in and says, 'I can fix it'?" Beck said. "Please pray for our president. Please pray for the republic. And so it begins. They mocked 'preppers' and now as the unrest becomes more of a reality, the advice being given this week, on the eve of potential violence, is prepare":

Fischer Proposes Religious Right Conclave To Pick The Next GOP Presidential Nominee

On his radio broadcast today, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer called for Religious Right leaders to gather together for what would amount to a political papal conclave designed to pick the next Republican presidential nominee.

Worrying that the Religious Right may have too many excellent choices among the crop of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls and may end up diluting its power by splitting its support among various candidates as a result, Fischer suggested that Religious Right leaders ought to organize a summit where they would all gather and relentlessly "grill [the candidates] one after another."

"Probe them and challenge them and test them and ask them really hard questions about what they would do as president of the United States with this issue or that issue," Fischer said. "And get some promises from these guys."

After said grilling, Religious Right leaders would then collectively decide "on one candidate that you as a group of leaders would recommend that the entire evangelical community gather behind."

"It's kind of like picking a Pope," he said:

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