The tragic death of Trayvon Martin – the 17 year old African American who was slain while walking down the sidewalk of a gated community – has shocked the nation, and has drawn international attention to the role of race relations in America.
The tragedy has also shed light on Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law, which expands the legal justifications for "justifiable homicide" – and which is key to the "self-defense" claims of Trayvon’s alleged shooter, George Zimmerman. This "Stand Your Ground" law, signed into Florida statutes in 2005, became a model for legislation pushed by the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and with ALEC’s help has since been replicated in states across the country.
On April 26th, 2005, Florida became the first state in the nation to pass "Stand Your Ground" legislation, which expanded the circumstances under which the use of deadly force for self-defense is considered justifiable. Under the so-called "Castle Doctrine," a person’s right to defend themselves from attack in their own home has traditionally been recognized and typically in such circumstances the burden falls on the individual to prove that the use of force is reasonable. Under the expanded “Stand Your Ground” laws, the permissible use of deadly force for self-defense expands beyond the home, into spaces including personal vehicles and even public places, and the burden of showing that the use of force was unreasonable falls on the prosecution. It is such provisions which are apparently complicating the current investigations in the Martin shooting.
"Stand Your Ground" laws have been popping up around the country in recent years (24 states currently have them on the books) – and that’s no coincidence. Just as we have seen with the proliferation of Voter-ID laws, the force behind the trend is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate-funded front group that has helped advance the most extreme laws adopted by state legislatures, from SB 1070 in Arizona to SB 5 in Ohio.
Again and again, we’ve seen corporations use ALEC to push laws that put profits above the wellbeing of ordinary people. In the case of “Stand Your Ground” legislation, the weapons industry and ALEC have advocated for a law that encourages more people to carry weapons, thereby increasing industry profits.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a prominent member of ALEC, and has used its influence within the organization to push pro-gun policies across the country. In 2008, ALEC employee Michael Hough appeared on NRA News to talk about ALEC’s amicus brief in support of the NRA’s position in District of Columbia v. Heller. Hough described ALEC as a “very pro-Second Amendment organization,” and also stated, “Some of the things we were pushing in states was the Castle Doctrine [the name for ALEC’s model bill], we worked with the NRA with that, that’s one of our model bills that we have states introduce, and another one was the emergency powers legislation which was enacted in a couple states.”
Despite their grassroots image, the NRA is far from being simply a grassroots organization. An extensive report by the Violence Policy Center documents how gun companies bankroll the NRA through their many opportunities to sponsor NRA programs and make direct contributions to the organization:
Since 2005, corporations—gun related and other—have contributed between $19.8 million and $52.6 million to the NRA as detailed in its Ring of Freedom corporate giving program.1 In a promotional brochure for the program, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre promises that the “National Rifle Association’s newly expanded Corporate Partners Program is an opportunity for corporations to partner with the NRA....This program is geared toward your company’s corporate interests.” The vast majority of funds—74 percent—contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” are members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products. Contributions to the NRA from the firearms industry since 2005 total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million.
That corporate funding helps to explain why the NRA has the means to donate, for example, $25,000 to ALEC in 2011 to achieve "Vice-Chairman" level sponsorship for ALEC’s annual conference. It also explains why NRA lobbying efforts are so important to their mission, since the laws they lobby for enrich the financial funders of the organization.
Unfortunately, until we change it, the ALEC model is working – for the corporations that fund the network. Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" legislation and ALEC’s model bill contain identical language, which has now been introduced in states across the country.
Those who aren’t served by this system are the American people. When politicians enact ALEC legislation that benefits corporations, real people suffer the consequences. The results are tragic:
(Source: Data issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement)
In a sermon uploaded yesterday, Cornerstone Church pastor John Hagee argues that the we are approaching the End Times, as evidenced by recent ecological disasters, including food shortages and the Gulf oil spill. During the End Times, Hagee said, God will take one American life “for every child killed in every abortion clinic in America”:
Read Revelation 9:15. It’s the sixth trumpet. There are four angels released by God himself to destroy one third of mankind in one day. The Bible says there is a year, a month, a day and an hour that God picked out from Genesis 1, that one third of mankind on that day, by the will and hand of God will be destroyed. You say, ‘I have a hard time believing that.’ May I refer you to Noah and the flood? Believe it.
In America, we have something over 300 million people. That means 100 million people in this country in 24 hours, gone. You’ve heard me say that I believe God will require a life for every child killed in every abortion clinic in America. I believe that’s where the tally is going to be set, right there.
A few weeks ago we noted that since Religious Right leaders keep comparing themselves to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it only stood to reason that they see their opponents as akin to Nazis.
Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber, at least, has been very open about this. Just a few weeks ago, he plainly stated that those who support marriage equality or a reproductive rights are "on the wrong side of history" and "advocating things that are equally as horrific" as what the Nazis did.
But just in case that wasn't clear enough, Barber followed it up today with a another Bonhoeffer/Nazi comparison where he explicitly stated that he is comparing those who support a woman's right to choose to the Nazis:
Let's be very clear here. What we're talking about here is, as we've long called it, an abortion holocaust. Are we comparing the pro-choice movement to the Nazi movement? Yes! Absolutely.
In recent weeks we talked about how the pro-life movement really embraces the mantle of Dietrich Bonhoeffer ...This is the modern-day anti-holocaust movement; the pro-life movement is.
And, you know, I was, a few months ago, in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and I was taken by how the arguments that the Nazis made in order to dehumanize the Jews are the same arguments that we hear coming from the so-called pro-choice movement to dehumanize the unborn child.
Today's episode of "WallBuilders Live" was dedicated to defending free-market capitalism, as Rick Green and David Barton asserted that there should literally be no government regulation or oversight of any aspect of our economy whatsoever:
Barton: A free market means that it is a market that is free from government regulations. Now, people today don't think that. They say free market [but think] "well, the government does need to regulate to make sure there's no corruption." No, no, no.
Green: But even that phrase "to regulate" means to make regular. It means just keep it ...
Barton: ... standardize it ...
Green: ... yeah, keep there from being tariffs between states and that sort of thing. It doesn't mean micromanage your marketplace.
Barton: And it's amazing how many people who say "I believe in the free market" still want some sort of government oversight. "Well, you got all those crooks on Wall Street" ... hey, the free market will take care of it.
Green: That's exactly right.
Barton: The free market will take care of crooks and they'll be out of business and we also have laws that say, hey you can't steal. And if you steal, you're going to be in jail. Talk to [Bernie] Madoff about that, see how it worked out for him.
Green: It's the areas that we most put regulation in to that then become a problem ...
Barton: ... the most corrupt ...
Green: ... the areas we got to go bail out.
I guess it should be pointed out that Madoff pled guilty [PDF] to "securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and theft from an employee benefit plan," violations of the very sorts of regulations that Barton and Green believe are totally unnecessary.
Conservative activist David Horowitz joined Candace Pate and John Rabe on Truth that Transforms Radio today to discuss the state of liberalism in the United States.
Horowitz said, “I would like to ban the word liberal, because people who are called liberals aren’t liberal about anything except hard drugs, sex and spending other people’s money.” Instead, he argues that the Democratic Party is now controlled by leftist radicals who have learned to lie about their true agenda.
He went on to discuss how progressives commit great crimes because, “If you thought that you could, you know, return us to Eden or create a world in which there’s no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no poverty, no war, what lie would you not tell and what crime would you not commit to get there? And that’s why the greatest criminals of the 20th century were communists, were progressives. And they will be in this century as well."
Rabe: Are we as a nation being led in a direction that’s to the left of where maybe the average voter of either party is?
Horowitz: I would like to ban the word liberal, because people who are called liberals aren’t liberal about anything except hard drugs, sex and spending other people’s money.
Rabe: Fair point.
Horowitz: Otherwise, they want to control your life. That should be really, really clear to everybody. These are not liberals, they’re leftists. And Barack Obama is a Marxist radical. That’s his whole training. He came from the same left that I did. He was trained from birth, really, by his mother, Franklin Marshall, the people who tutored him. He was a Marxist in college, and his whole political career was shaped by, funded by Marxist radicals from the 60’s. That’s who he is.
But they learned one thing from the 60’s. I’ve written, actually, a pamphlet about this called “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution,” which traces his upbringing but also his philosophy. What the left learned from their failures in the 60’s is: lie. Don’t tell people what your agendas are. Pretend to be a liberal. Don’t create riots outside Democratic Party conventions, as the left did in 1968, infiltrate the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is now a left-wing party. It’s agendas are socialist.
Horowitz: And that is what the left is about. They are a crypto-religion. They too believe that we are in a fallen state and that there will be a redemption. But guess who the redeemers are. It’s them.
Horowitz: And that’s why they kill so many people.
Pate: Very good.
Horowitz: Because if you thought that you could, you know, return us to Eden or create a world in which there’s no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, no poverty, no war, what lie would you not tell and what crime would you not commit to get there?
Horowitz: And that’s why the greatest criminals of the 20th century were communists, were progressives. And they will be in this century as well.
As we have noted several times already, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry is now desperately trying to deny that he told those who disagree with his views that there is only one God and America was founded as a Christian nation that they should "get out!" of the country during an event at his church on Sunday featuring Rick Santorum.
Terry has been claiming that his words were taken out of context and misreported ... but we have the video that proves otherwise.
Now, you would think that if Terry really believed that we had taken his statements and presented them out of context, he'd be encouraging people to go and watch the original video in an effort to prove that . But that does not seem to be the case, as all of the videos from Sunday's night's event with Rick Santorum have now been removed from the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church's UStream archive:
On top of that, Greenwell Springs' Worship Minister Jeremy Dailey posted a message on his Facebook page yesterday asking that all church members "remove from Facebook and/or any other public site, any video showing footage from the Sunday Evening service of March 18, 2012":
None of this really does much good, considering that we have the orginal video that we recorded live during the event and our video featuring the "highlights" from Terry's introduction is still posted on YouTube for the whole word to see:
On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green welcomed Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) to discuss why "it is not only important that we send a message of support to Israel, but it is important that that message is clear."
While introducing the program, Barton claimed that sided with Libertarians in thinking that the United States needed to reduce the amount of money it was spending on foreign aid, with one exception: Israel ... and that is because the Bible says so:
Barton: One of the areas where I will agree with Libertarians is that our foreign policy spending is way the heck out of bounds. The one where I'm going to draw an exception is we've got a business giving to Israel.
And you can say "well, it's not in the Constitution." Okay, I can say it's in Genesis 12:3. Genesis 12:3 told Abraham "I'm going to make a nation out of you and the way that other nations treat that nation is how I'm going to treat other nations." Now that's a great public policy reason for doing something with Israel. I might not do it with other nations there ... but He made it really clear whatever nation, the way they treat your descendents, you nation, I'm going to whack 'em or I'm going to bless 'em based on what happens there.
Green: And that's reason enough by itself.
Barton: That's reason enough by itself.
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued the following statement in response to the Justice Department’s announcement that it would open a civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin:
“It is shocking that nearly 60 years after the murder of Emmett Till, a black teenager can be killed simply for walking down the street, and his killer not even tried. Trayvon Martin’s life was not expendable. Unfortunately, for many weeks local law enforcement acted as if it were.
“The Justice Department was right to open an investigation into Trayvon’s murder. All his family is asking for is their constitutional right to equal justice under the law, for our justice system to recognize the value of their son’s life. In 2012, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.”
African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is an alliance of over 700 progressive African American clergy supporting social justice, civil rights, and reproductive health and justice.
It has been a few weeks since Matt Barber was last co-hosting Liberty Counsel's daily "Faith and Freedom" radio program and we were starting to miss him because he can always be relied on to say something bigoted, over the top, or downright crazy that we could use for a post.
But fortunately, Barber has now returned to the studio and immediately started providing great quotes for us to highlight ... like this one calling President Obama "the single most anti-Christian president in the history of the United States" who is cramming his "radical secular, anti-life, pro-death" agenda down the throats of the American people:
Earlier today we noted that Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry is now trying to claim that he is being misquoted and his views misrepresented over the heated rhetoric he used on Sunday evening at an event with Rick Santorum when he told those who "don’t like the way we do things" that they can "get out" of the country.
Terry has now turned to CBN's David Brody to present his side of the story because Brody is the one Religious Right journalist that they can reliably count on to take whatever they say at face value and report it.
So here is the statement Terry released exclusively to Brody:
Sunday night our church was privileged to host Sen. Rick Santorum, a candidate in the Republican Presidential contest. As stated Sunday night, Greenwell Springs Baptist church has invited all of the candidates, including President Barack Obama to visit our congregation.
Prior to Senator Santorum speaking on Sunday night I gave a short exhortation to our congregation on why we as Christians should be involved in the political and public policy process. My message was based in 1 Peter 2:11-17. In my remarks I said the following:
“This nation was founded as a Christian Nation. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, there is only one God. There is only one God! And his name is Jesus!
I’m tired of people telling me I can’t say those words, I’m tired of people telling us as Christians that we can’t voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me if you don’t love America or you don’t like the way we do things I‘ve got one thing to say get out!”
These comments have been misreported saying that I suggested those who do not believe like me should leave the country. I said no such thing. I said those who do not love America and what she stands for should leave. Chief among the principles that America is founded upon is that of religious freedom, and that includes Christianity. I will not be made to feel as if we as Christians should apologize for our faith or that we should take the backseat as America is morally and spiritually being driven in the wrong direction.
Muslims, Hindus, people of different religions or no religions have the right to be here in America, but they do not have the right to force me to be silent while they work to transform our nation.
My comments on Sunday night were my comments as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The validation of my comments is found in the response by those who are screaming separation of church and state.
You will notice that Terry conveniently left off the intro sentence of his statement where he declared "I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation ..."
That is kind of a key element to understanding what Terry was saying since he was not simply saying that those who don't love America should leave but was specifically talking about liberals, claiming that liberals are the ones who are telling him he can't pray in public and that if they don't love America and don't share his views, they ought to "get out" of the country.
The video speaks for itself, as anyone who watches it can see. But Brody, of course, simply accepts Terry's claims wholesale and reports that the controversy Terry has created is "a good example of how the mainstream media just doesn’t understand the evangelical worldview."
On Sunday evening, Rick Santorum joined Family Research Council President for an event at Perkins' home church, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, in Louisiana where Santorum and Perkins were seated on stage as Pastor Dennis Terry declared that America "was founded as a Christian nation" and those that disagree with him should "get out!":
I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob, there's only one God. There's only one God and his name is Jesus.
I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words. I'm tired of people telling us, as Christians, that we can't voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me, if you don't love America and you don't like the way we do things, I got one thing to say: Get Out!
Yesterday, WBRZ news in Baton Rouge interviewed Terry about the controversy he has created and, of course, he responded by claiming that "people are misquoting" what he said and "twisted and edited" his words because all he meant was that "I love America":
You will notice that Terry never explains how he had been misquoted or had his words twisted .... and that is probably because the original video of Terry telling liberals and all others who don't share his right-wing views that they should "get out" of the country clearly speaks for itself.
Over the weekend, James Robison and Jay Richards took their promotional tour for their new book "Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It's Too Late" to Richard Land's weekly radio program.
During the interview, Robison warned that there is "a type of racism" growing in America against "free market capitalists" akin to the kind that they stood against along with Martin Luther King.
Land then said that the next election was the most important since 1860, just as the 1980 election was the most important one regarding the survival of the Soviet Union, as Robison lamented that back in the 80s, the "enemy" was obvious to most people whereas "today the enemy is within":
Robison: Our economy is trembling, it's quaking. And we can correct it if we will come together and understand that the enemy is not the creator of wealth, it is not the free market capitalist crowd that do go out and create jobs, and opportunity, and investment. And we have really today biased the whole population against in them in a type of racism that is not only damaging but actually potentially very dangerous. There is an animosity and a hostility that you have to go all the way back to the horrible racism that you and I stood against along with Martin Luther King, that we detested. You have to look at that and see how dangerous it is.
Land: The 1980 election was the most important election for the Soviet Union, for the people of the Soviet Union, because it meant that they were going to be free. But the most important election for the United States since 1860 is this one because out future is at stake as America.
Robison: Right, and in 1980 you could see the enemy. It was quite obvious to most people we had a very serious threat. Today the enemy is within, it lurks in a very subtle and crafty way. And if we who know the truth do not point to the truth and stand for the truth and really get involved to turn back the tide, we are going to see in 3D the horrific collapse of the Untied States of America economically.
Washington is aggressively moving to silence the influence and freedom of Christians in every sphere of society. Churches and ministries, charities, Christian bookstores, radio and television stations, Christian businesses will face coercion—censorship—silencing—denial of licenses—even being shut down.Why? Because the Obama Left has made it clear they have a goal: marginalize Christianity, make it irrelevant and powerless to influence morality, the role of the family, and the course of our nation. And as the role of the Church is diminished—expand the federal bureaucracy.They want to replace the effective work of churches and charities and essentially replace them with government programs—more constly, less effective programs.They want to get religion out of the equation and make America utterly unrecognizable as a nation founded upon Christian principles. There is an unprecedented ideology of hostility toward the Christian religion in Washington today.….One prominent church leader has said, “what war and disease cannot do to the congregation, the government of the United States will. It will shut them down.”
But now it seems that Terry is not particularly pleased with the coverage that his video received and so he is back with a new video, this one warning us, Jezebel, The Huffington Post, TPM Muckraker, and The Young Turks that he will testify against us all on the Day of Judgment because we promote murder while mocking God and His servants and are thus condemning ourselves to Hell: