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YP4 Featured Fellow: Ariel Boone

Young People For (YP4), a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is a year-long leadership development program that helps a diverse set of student leaders turn their idealism into actions that advance social change on their campuses and in their communities. YP4 Fellows design and implement a capstone project called the Blueprint for Social Justice and work on social justice projects of their choosing.

We’ll be highlighting the work of some of our outstanding Fellows here. This week, we’re pleased to introduce Ariel Boone, representing the University of California at Berkeley.

Originally from Davis, CA, Ariel quickly became active in student government and advocacy upon arriving at Cal. She was elected to serve as a senator in the Associated Students of U.C., and also was the Internal Vice President of the largest college political party chapters in California. Her passion for the democratic process began early – she has extensive campaign experience and has been canvassing and phone-banking for various candidates for years. As an advocate, she was a co-chair of the 2011 Western Region LGBTQIA Conference and is active with the CalSERVE (Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education) coalition, which works to promote civil rights, improve college affordability and other issues facing Cal students.

Seeking to improve fairness and transparency in government, as her Blueprint for Social Justice, Ariel wrote and introduced a bill in the Student Senate that would withdraw the Berkeley Student Government’s $3.5 million treasury out of Bank of America, and encourages the University to do the same. Ariel’s bill passed the Student Senate with unanimous support.

This action was prompted by the growing national effort to get major corporations to refrain from spending their vast treasuries to influence elections. Just last week, the shareholders of Bank of America called on the company to refrain from such spending and strengthen its disclosure practices. People who have a stake in Bank of America and companies like it – from shareholders to 401(k) enrollees and even students at universities like Cal – have a right to know if the corporations they invest in are using those funds to support candidates, causes or attack ads without their knowledge or approval. By withdrawing the Cal Student Government’s funds from Bank of America, students are sending a powerful message: like all Americans, young people are affected by the undue influence that wealthy special interests have in our democratic system, and it is time to do something about it. Ariel’s effort was echoed around the country last week, as students joined demonstrations at various Bank of America branches to add their voices to the call and telling corporations to stop spending money on politics.

You can read Ariel’s article in the Daily Californian about how to enact change by making informed financial decisions here.

PFAW Foundation

Garlow: Opposing Gay Marriage May Cost Us Our Lives

Last week, Jim Garlow was on Daystar TV's "Celebration" program to promote his recent book "Miracles Are For Real," but before the discussion about his book began, Garlow and hosts Marcus and Joni Lamb spent several minutes talking about President Obama's statement last week in support of marriage equality.

Garlow weighed in, declaring that religious liberty and "the radical homosexual agenda" were on course for a head-on collision in America because "they cannot both exist in the same nation at the same time." As such, Garlow warned that advances in marriage equality will eventually force the Christian church underground because the gay agenda is all about "coercion, and crushing, and taking away our liberties and freedoms." But nonetheless, Garlow said, Christians must be willing to stand up and speak out in opposition even though "we are coming into an era where it could cost us everything, including our lives": 

The Fischer Defense: 'I am not Anti-Mormon, I am Anti-Mormonism'

Bryan Fischer has a long history of criticizing Mormonism, saying that it is not protected by the First Amendment and warning that electing a "spiritually-compromised candidate" like Mitt Romney will weaken the nation and threatens its spiritual health.

But on his radio program on Friday, Fischer took a moment to make clear that he doesn't hate Mormons ... he just hates Mormonism:

Now I want to say this again, I am not anti-Mormon. I am anti-Mormonism because I think it's error, but I am pro-Mormon. I am for Mormons, I want to see them come to a full understanding of the truth. I bear them no ill will, I bear them no malice, I love them, I want them to come into the full light of the truth.

We should probably point out that this is the exact same defense that Fischer uses to justify his attacks on gays and Muslims:

Obviously Mormons must be greatly relieved to learn that Fischer is not anti-Mormon but merely anti-Mormonism ... just like he is not anti-gay but merely anti-homosexuality and not anti-Muslim but rather anti-Islam. 

Especially since Fischer "loves" gays so much that holds the responsible for the Holocaust, likened them to domestic terrorists and Nazis who are intent on committing “ virtual genocide” against the military, asserts that "homosexuals should be disqualified from public office" and called for the re-criminalization of homosexuality

And he "loves" Muslims so much that he has stated they have no First Amendment rights, that they should be banned from serving in the military as well as from building mosques in the U.S., and that they are inherently stupid as a result of inbreeding.

Welcome to Liberty University, Now Gives Us Your Blood and Urine Sample

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators

Tests are a big part of college life. That much is true. But at Liberty University, all students since 1988 have been subject to “mandatory random drug testing.”
 
Attendance at Liberty is a “privilege,” as the administration likes to say, and all students must consent to “the clinically supervised furnishing of urine or blood samples at a time and place determined by the University for the purpose of laboratory analysis.” Students are also required to waive all claims, legal or otherwise, arising from the drug testing program.
 
Liberty reserves the right to test any student using any means for any reason and punish students as it sees fit. To be sure, drug abuse is a problem on American campuses, but leave it to Liberty to impose a draconian and incredibly intrusive drug policy that hands administrators the power to arbitrarily test students.
 
Here’s the relevant section of the Liberty Way:
Mandatory Drug Testing Program
In the Fall semester of 1988, the University instituted an on-going program of mandatory random drug testing for students. The purpose of this program is to detect the use of illegal drugs and administer disciplinary action against those students and employees whose way of life is incompatible with the University community and whose example and conduct may be a detriment to the lives of other students and employees. To that extent, Liberty University is committed to using every lawful means at its disposal to preserve the purposes upon which it was founded and continues to exist.
 
Attendance is a privilege. As a private educational institution, Liberty University is free to control the admission and attendance of students. In consideration for the benefit of attending a University where a diligent effort shall be made to detect and remove those involved with illegal drugs, a student hereby agrees to the following:
  • To cooperate fully with Liberty University's drug testing program, including the clinically supervised furnishing of urine or blood samples at a time and place determined by the University for the purpose of laboratory analysis.
  • To participate in this drug-testing program, which permits the University to test any student, irrespective of the method by which, that student was selected. Student selection will be accomplished both on a random basis and on the basis of suspected use and/or drug possession as defined in the drug testing procedure manual.
  • That failure to cooperate with the University's drug testing program will result in disciplinary action against a student, including the possibility of administrative withdrawal from the University.
  • That failure to achieve a negative drug test (i.e., the absence of illegal drugs) will result in disciplinary action against a student, including the possibility of administrative withdrawal from the University. In assessing disciplinary action, the University shall have discretion to impose a wide range of sanctions other than administrative withdrawal, including but not limited to, drug counseling and periodic drug testing. […]
  • To waive all claims one might have against Liberty University or its employees as to any threatened or actual damage to reputation, privacy, mental/emotional condition resulting from the administration of the drug tests, the processing of the drug tests or the enforcement of the University's disciplinary or academic penalties.
  • To waive all legal claims of any nature, such as those claims one might have against Liberty University or its employees, arising out of drug testing.
  • To consent to the drug-testing program of Liberty University is a part of the overall contract between the student and Liberty University. Any attempt to alter, amend or avoid this agreement may result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of administrative withdrawal from the University.
  • To agree that any disciplinary action against a student could also involve academic penalties, including the possibility of loss of credit from work completed during the semester in which the disciplinary action is taken. […]

 

The Religious Right Nanny State, on View at Liberty University

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators

The Right Wing loves to talk about how liberals supposedly want government to interfere with every aspect of Americans’ lives. That’s why it’s amusing, but not surprising, that Jerry Falwell has seemingly created a university that interferes with literally every aspects of its students’ lives.
 
Students from Arizona – the “show me your ID” state – will feel right at home. Liberty requires that all students carry their ID cards at all times and produce them upon request:
Identification Cards
When new students/faculty/staff arrive at Liberty University, they are photographed and sent a LibertyOne Card. […]
 
The LibertyOne Card must be carried at all times and produced when requested by University personnel. This should be done in a timely and courteous manner. LibertyOne Card holders are subject to disciplinary action for the misuse of any identification card.
A typical college doesn’t track your whereabouts or punish you for not making your bed. Liberty is different:
Students desiring to leave earlier than the scheduled breaks must obtain written permission.
 
Out of the Residence Hall Overnight
Any time a resident student plans to be out of the residence hall overnight, it is imperative that he/she sign out on the overnight sign-out sheet.
 
Room Checks
Residence hall rooms are to be kept neat and clean at all times. The following will be checked on a regular basis:
  • Bed must be made
  • Carpet must be vacuumed
  • Trash must be emptied
  • Sink and mirror must be clean
  • Dresser tops and other stands dusted and in order
  • All personal belongings organized and in place
Students living off campus are not only expected to follow the same rigid guidelines, but they could also be subject to spot checks from Liberty personnel:
Liberty University expects its commuters to live above reproach in their private residences, as well as in the local community. In matters such as prompt payment of debt and relations with the community as a whole, the University exhorts that commuters, single and married, maintain exemplary conduct. […] (University personnel may periodically visit the private residence of off campus students to assist in resolving off campus problems and to ensure compliance to University regulations.)
The Liberty Way is always in effect. You can’t get away from it – not even on summer break:
Liberty University regulations and policies are in effect at all times, including semester breaks and summer.
 
Vacation/Breaks
All students are expected to uphold the standards set by the University whether on or off campus. This includes weekends, all fall, spring, summer, and Christmas breaks. Any behavior considered a dismissal offense, as stated in The Liberty Way handbook, which occurs during these times, may jeopardize a person's status as a student.
Liberty also wants to be involved in your personal life and work life. They will prevent you from working for any entity that violates the policies and principles of the school and really think you should get your parents’ permission before you get married. And if you do get married, you can forget about living on campus:
Marriage
Students under the age of 21 are encouraged to obtain permission from parents before getting married. Premarital counseling is available and may be arranged by contacting any Student Development office or the Spiritual Life Office. Married students are not permitted to live in the residence halls.
 
Student Employment
In maintaining a reputation in the marketplace consistent with the philosophy of Liberty University, employment will not be permitted where a student (as a major, active part of his/her job) is required to violate the policies and principles of the University. Any questions regarding employment at Liberty University or within the community may be directed to any Student Affairs Dean.
The school also administers “Alco-Sensor” tests and mandatory, random drug tests. Failure to consent to testing is a major violation of the Liberty Way. More on that shortly.
 

 

Staver: 'Personhood' Efforts Just Like MLK's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'

On today's episode of Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Mat Staver reacted to a recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision striking down a proposed "personhood" amendment to the state constitution by comparing the effort to pass such laws to Martin Luther King, Jr's famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Liberty Counsel recently formed a partnership with Personhood USA to essentially serve as the legal arm of the effort to pass laws all over the nation that "declare that human life begins at conception."  The effort to pass such laws has caused rifts in the anti-abortion movement between those pushing the radical measures and other groups that prefer to take a more incremental approach to outlawing abortion, prompting Staver to directly compare the "personhood" movement to King's crusade for civil rights:

But it goes back, somewhat, to Martin Luther King, Jr's. "Letter from the Birmingham Jail." When he was there in the Birmingham Jail and he was protesting certain injustices there in Alabama, some of the ministers said "Dr. King, it's too early to do this, why don't you allow the newly elected mayor and some of those newly elected individuals to have a chance to do what you want them to do?" And he says "you know, that's easy for you to say but we've lived under injustice for 400 years. The time has come to act now."

We've lived under absolute killing of unborn children since 1973. The time to act, I think, as long passed. It's now.

This is yet another example of the trend that Peter pointed out last month of Religious Right leaders "claiming Dr. King’s moral authority as their own, positioning themselves as inheritors of his righteous struggle, and claiming against all evidence and history that he would support their war on Planned Parenthood, their opposition to legal protections for LGBT Americans and their families, their crusades against separation of church and state, and their free market fundamentalism."

Liberty University’s Guide to Female Modesty

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]
 
Liberty students are “expected to dress modestly at all times,” and the Liberty Way sets out guidelines for both men and women. However, in the long tradition of religious conservatives the world over, most of the focus is on women – and covering up their sinful bodies.
 
This screenshot from the Liberty website circa 2005 shows an example of how female students should dress:
 
The Liberty Way explains that the university “has established a standard of dress for the University community, which is conducive to a Christ-like environment. Cleanliness, neatness, appropriateness and modesty are important as guiding factors.” The women’s dress code includes, among others, the following restrictions and stipulations:
  • “Hair and clothing styles related to counterculture (as determined by the Deans' Review Committee) are not acceptable.”
  • “Swimwear is only appropriate at the swimming pool. Students are to wear appropriate casual or sport attire (as stated in ‘The Liberty Way’) going to and from the pool. Women are required to wear a one-piece suit that is in good taste. Swimsuits that are see-through/mesh, expose the midriff and/or are low in the front or back or cut high on the legs are not acceptable.”
  • “Dresses and skirts should be no shorter than the top of the knee (sitting or standing). Skirt slits should be modest; open slits should be no higher than the top of the knee, closed slits should be no higher than two inches from the top of the knee. Shoulder straps should be no less than two inches wide. Anything tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff (in any position) is immodest and unacceptable.”
  • “Body piercing is not permitted. Earrings and plugs are permitted in ears only.”
  • “Students are expected to dress modestly for the Junior/Senior Banquet & the Minority Student Achievement Awards Banquet, as well as all formal events. Anything tight, scant, backless, see-through, low in the neckline or revealing the midriff is immodest and unacceptable. Slits should be no higher than the top of the knee. Strapless or spaghetti straps are acceptable for this event as long as the above standard is followed”
  • Class Dress: “Dresses, skirts, dress pants, shirts and/or sweaters (no jeans of any color, no overalls, no Capri/cropped pants, no shorts, no sweatshirts, no writing or graphics on shirts except for discreet embroidered logos), dress, casual or tennis shoes (no flip-flops of any style)”

Students are warded that “RA’s, RD’s, Deans and others will enforce dress code and educate all students regarding what is acceptable and what is not.” Back in 2004, and perhaps more recently, the administration made a helpful presentation on female modesty. Here are some highlights:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Witchcraft and Abortion on Par with Sexual Assault and Felony Conviction at Liberty University

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]
 
The Liberty Way provides a fascinating look into the mindset of Jerry Falwell and the contemporary Religious Right. The “Reprimands and Consequences” section of the handbook sets out seven levels of violations, and you can learn a great deal from what they prohibit and how they rank the various transgressions.
 
Violating curfew brings one reprimand, gambling brings six, and watching an R-rated movie brings 12 plus a $50 fine. Sexual harassment and entering the dorm of members of the opposite sex results in 18 reprimands, a $250 fine and 18 hours of disciplinary community service.
 
The harshest punishment (30 reprimands, a $500 fine, 30 hours of disciplinary community service, and possible administrative withdrawal) is reserved for the really, really bad things. And by really, really bad things, I mean witchcraft, spending the night with a member of the opposite sex, drinking (even if you’re 21+) or having an abortion. These things are considered on par with sexual assault and a felony conviction and bring a harsher punishment than sexual or racial harassment:
30 Reprimands + $500.00 Fine + 30 hours Disciplinary Community Service + possible Administrative Withdrawal.  NOTE: For each accumulation of six (6) or more reprimands after 30, an additional $150 fine will be assessed.
  • Abortion
  • Assault/sexual assault (minimum two (2) semesters out)
  • Commission/conviction of any felony
  • Failure of three (3) Christian/Community Services without reconciliation
  • Illegal drugs-association/possession, use/distribution (minimum two semesters out)
  • Involvement with witchcraft, séances or other satanic or demonic activity
  • Life-threatening behavior or language to others or oneself (immediate removal/exclusion from campus and a minimum of two semesters out)
  • Non-participation/disruption/non-compliance (possible removal/exclusion from campus)
  • Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Spending the night with a person of the opposite sex
  • Stealing or possession of stolen property (plus financial restitution; minimum two semesters out)
  • Two or more individuals of the opposite sex together in motel room
  • Unauthorized possession/use of weapons
Liberty doesn’t even bother prohibiting same-sex heavy petting because no one at Liberty is gay (it’s the higher ed equivalent of Iran, which also has no gay people). A quick visit to Craigslist Lynchburg suggests otherwise, but that’s a different story.

 

No Dancing or Kissing at Liberty University

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]

At Liberty University, college students are free to be college students. That means no dancing, no drinking, no kissing, and don’t even think about carousing in the ravine or renting a motel room! Handholding is the “only appropriate form of personal contact,” and students are not to be alone after dusk with an “individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area,” like the ravine.
 
Here’s the relevant portion of the Liberty Way:
Respect While Dating/Social Behavior
All students are asked to display mature Christian behavior in social interaction. Proper respect must be shown to all individuals at all times. Harassment of any type will not be tolerated. Handholding is the only appropriate form of personal contact. Improper personal contact or other forms of public display are considered in poor taste. After dusk, students should not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area such as the ball fields, parking lots, parked cars, ravine or other wooded areas, etc. This is considered improper social behavior.
 
Restricted Areas on Campus
A student may not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in the academic classrooms or offices. Students may not enter the residence halls of the opposite sex. After dusk, a student may not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area, such as the ball fields, the ravine, parking lots, parked cars, etc.
The Liberty Way sets out a regimen of fines and reprimands for, among many other things, attending a dance, drinking, entering a residence hall for members of the opposite sex, and so on. Here are some highlights, including “Two or more individuals of the opposite sex together in motel room”:
6 Reprimands + $25.00 Fine
  • Attendance at a dance
  • Entering entryway of opposite sex on campus or allowing the same
  • Possession and/or use of tobacco
12 Reprimands + $50.00 Fine
  • Entering the residence hallway of the opposite sex or allowing the same
  • Students of the opposite sex visiting alone at an off-campus residence
30 Reprimands + $500.00 Fine + 30 hours Disciplinary Community Service + possible Administrative Withdrawal.  NOTE: For each accumulation of six (6) or more reprimands after 30, an additional $150 fine will be assessed.
  • Possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages
  • Refusal to submit to an Alco-Sensor test and/or drug test
  • Spending the night with a person of the opposite sex
  • Two or more individuals of the opposite sex together in motel room

 

Will Romney Denounce Liberty University's 'Poisonous Language'?

As Josh noted in the previous post, Mitt Romney will be delivering the commencement address tomorrow at Liberty University, the ultra-fundamentalist university founded by the late Jerry Falwell.  But what many people may not realize is that Liberty U is also the home of some of the most militant anti-gay activists operating today, who are on staff at Liberty U while simultaneously working for the affiliated Liberty Counsel.

In fact, the two are so intertwined that Mat Staver serves as both Dean of the Liberty U Law School and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, while Rena Lindevaldsen, LU's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Matt Barber, LU's Associate Dean for Career and Professional Development, Shawn Akers, Dean of LU's Helms School of Government, and Deryl Edwards, LU's Director of Institutional Advancement, all hold positions with Liberty Counsel as well.

For years, Liberty Counsel has been at the center of a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner.  Rena Lindevaldsen was Miller's attorney and even wrote a book about the saga while Liberty Counsel continues to insist that it has no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working for Staver at Liberty U Law School. Furthermore, Liberty U also taught a class based on the Miller case in which students were reportedly instructed that the "right" thing for a lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" in order to uphold God's law.

While Staver may be the head of Liberty Counsel with a penchant for issuing warnings that President Obama seeks to become a global dictator, his rhetoric pales in comparison to Matt Baber who, in addition to serving as an instructor at Liberty U's Law School, also happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’”

Just in recent months, Barber has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act is necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens commit suicide because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."

But it is not just gays whom Barber attacks on a regular basis, but liberals in general, whom he claims are driven by a hatred of God and are working with radical Islamists to destroy Christianity. He has said that the Obama administration's contraception mandate was no different than being forced to kill your family and that those who support reproductive choice are literally no different than the Nazis.  In fact, Barber thinks the Left in general are nothing but a bunch of bullies who just need to be punched in the mouth.

Last year, when Romney spoke at the Values Voter Summit, he publicly called out the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer for his bigotry and declared that "poisonous language does not advance our cause."  

Will Romney have the courage this weekend to likewise take a stand against the "poisonous language" and bigotry regularly displayed by the staff at Liberty University/Liberty Counsel? 

We won't hold our breaths.

No R-Rated Movies, Un-Godly Music, or Immodest Posters at Liberty University

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]
 
Liberty University administrators allow students to attend movie theaters, but they must exercise caution in such a morally hazardous environment. R-rated films are strictly off-limits, and many PG-13 and even some PG films may also be deemed inappropriate for viewing by Liberty students. Students are similarly restricted from listening to music that is not “in harmony with God’s word.”
 
Here’s the relevant section from the Liberty Way:
Entertainment
Liberty University encourages students to abstain from any form of entertainment that would compromise their testimony to the world and their relationship to God.
 
Movies
Liberty University has always attempted to maintain a conservative standard in its approach to the arts and entertainment. Current policy for movie viewing allows for attendance at theaters but prohibits viewing of movies rated "R", "NC-17" or "X". The penalty for viewing such movies is a reprimandable offense. It should be remembered that in no way is Liberty University endorsing the movie industry's rating system as appropriate or Christ-honoring. In addition, the Division of Student Affairs will continue teaching guidelines and principles to students related to all forms of entertainment. This would mean that many "PG-13" and some "PG" movies, although not prohibited by policy, may also be inappropriate.

Music
Philosophy, tastes and personal convictions concerning music vary greatly among our students. Liberty University endeavors to teach discernment in evaluating and selecting all music. It is Liberty's desire to maintain a music standard that is conducive to a healthy Christian atmosphere. Students should learn to choose music that honors the Savior and is in harmony with God's word. Music that is offensive (i.e., lewd lyrics, anti-Christian messages, etc.) to Liberty's Christian stand is not permitted.
Violations of these policies are punished accordingly:
12 Reprimands + $50.00 Fine
  • Attendance at, possession or viewing of, an “R”, “NC-17” or “X”-rated movie
  • Possession and/or viewing of sexually explicit material
4 Reprimands
(Fine is waived for the first offense; each subsequent offense is $10.00)
  • Music code violation
Liberty also polices students’ dorm rooms for posters and pictures that violated the school’s entertainment policies or dress code:
Posters and Pictures
All posters and pictures in the residence halls should coincide with the standards and policies of the University, i.e., all posters and pictures should conform to the University's music, movie, dress and conduct standards.
Students are warned that “Resident Directors and Resident Assistants will check rooms on a regular basis to give guidance, answer questions and ensure compliance.” And if you live off campus, you shouldn’t get any ideas. “Liberty University expects its commuters to live above reproach in their private residences,” and “University personnel may periodically visit the private residence of off campus students to assist in resolving off campus problems and to ensure compliance to University regulations.”

 

The First Amendment Doesn’t Apply at Liberty University

[This is part of a series of posts on Liberty University's student handbook, “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators]

Liberty University is all about freedom – the freedom to do, think and say exactly what Jerry Falwell would want you to do, think and say, and nothing else. Accordingly, students cannot participate in demonstrations, petitioning, picketing, or literature distribution on campus without the express approval of the administration. Students can also be restricted or prohibited from participating in such activities off campus if they are deemed to be in violation of the school’s principles and policies. 

Here’s the relevant section for the Liberty Way:
Demonstrations, Petitions and Picketing
Student participation in on-campus demonstrations, petitions or picketing is prohibited unless approved by Liberty University administration. The administration may also prohibit or restrict student participation in demonstrations, petitions or picketing at places other than on campus, where such participation would contradict or otherwise compromise the principles and policies of Liberty University.
 
Distribution of Literature
Distribution of literature is permitted on campus only when prior administrative approval has been secured from the Student Life Office or University Services. Distribution of literature in the residence halls requires written approval from the Residence Life Office.
Violations of these policies are punished accordingly:
12 Reprimands + $50.00 Fine
  • Participation in an unauthorized petition or demonstration
Liberty administrators also restrict what students are free to read. Last year the school banned students from accessing the local Lyncburg newspaper, the News & Advance, after it reported on the half-billion dollars that the school received in 2010 from the federal government, which runs counter to the school’s anti-government ideology.
 
This is behavior I expect from a Chinese university, not an American one. But that’s the Liberty Way.

 

Liberty Isn't Free at Liberty University – Inside Jerry Falwell U

Mitt Romney will give the commencement address tomorrow at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty, founded in 1971 as the Lynchburg Baptist College, is best known as the pet project of televangelist Jerry Falwell. Falwell created the university as a training ground for successive leaders of the Religious Right, and the curriculum is tightly controlled to advance an uncompromising right-wing outlook. But that’s not all.

The university also has an all-encompassing code of conduct, called “The Liberty Way,” which governs what students can say, do, read, and watch – both on and off campus – and sets out a regimen of reprimands and fines for violators. 

When the university banned a student Democratic club in 2009, the outside world got a taste of student life at Liberty. But to fully grasp the mindset of Liberty administrators, and get a sense of what life would be like in an America run by the Religious Right, you need to look inside the Liberty Way handbook.
 
The handbook was previously made available on the Liberty website, but now it is password-protected and available only to current students:
All students shall agree to comply with the terms of the Liberty Way. The full text is made available to students after they claim their Liberty University account. 
Fortunately we have a copy of the handbook. We’ll be posting highlights throughout the day:

 

Bryan Fischer's Two Rules For Saving America

During his radio program yesterday,  Bryan Fischer was adding his voice to the chorus of Right Wing outrage over President Obama's support for marriage equality, and doing so in typical Bryan Fischer manner:  by accusing Obama of lying when he said his decision was prompted, at least in part, by "members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships" because, as Fischer claims, "homosexual monogamy is a myth."

And so Fischer dedicated an entire segment of his program to attacking the idea that gay couples can and do establish monogamous relationships.  But since that is something Fischer has been saying for years, it wasn't really worth posting. 

But that rant prompted Fischer to eventually set forth two simple "abiding truths" for our public policy and culture that he knows will solve a lot of our problems if embraced and acted upon: 1) homosexuality is not a benign alternative to heterosexuality and 2) Islam is not a benign alternative to Christianity:

Healing Grace – Ministry of Information: Resources for Interested Faith Leaders

A List of Website Resources to Help Continue the Dialogue on The Black Church, Stigma, Prejudice and Homophobia

Taco-Protesting White Supremacist Burns Cross, Runs for Sheriff in Idaho

Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Kootenai County, Idaho, showed off a slice of his family life last Friday. After clearing it with friends and family, Winkler allowed reporters to attend a monthly get-together at his compound. Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer for the Aryan Nations, was hosting an old-fashioned cross-burning.

Cameron Rasmusson of the nearby Coeur d'Alene Press attended the family get-together and filed this report
The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. Afterward, Winkler called everyone's attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire. 
Winkler is competing for the Republican nomination for sheriff in a May 15th primary. He’s expected to lose badly, but in the meantime he’s participating in candidate forums and clarifying his anti-Jew, anti-“negro,” anti-sex crime platform. Rasmusson reports:
On Monday, he participated in a candidates forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and alcohol.
 
"Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes," he said. "We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."
 
Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.
Winkler has previously made a name for himself by picketing a Martin Luther King Day celebration in January, and according to Reuters, last year “Winkler and a handful of followers demonstrated at taco stands to target Latinos in Coeur d'Alene.” Officials and residents of Kootenai County worry that Winkler “will hamper efforts to dispel an image that the northern Idaho region is a haven for hate groups and extremists.” After all, Northern Idaho has traditionally been a hotbed of radical white supremacist activity, and Winkler worked for the man long at the center of it, Richard Butler.
 
Janice Schoonover, owner of a local vacation spot, complained to Reuters that Winkler’s campaign “just stirs the pot and makes us seem like something we're not, complaining that the area hadn’t “been able to shake that stereotype of white supremacists, and it's really unfortunate and unfair.”
 
But that’s probably premature. Winkler isn’t operating alone, and the Kootenai County Constitution Party recently protested a sculpture of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity, calling it “an abomination.”

 

 

Barton Continues to Peddle the Myth of Raymond Raines

Just last week David Barton was on The Daily Show where he trotted out a nearly twenty year old piece of right-wing mythology about some poor public school student who was reportedly yanked out of his chair and yelled at by a teacher merely for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria.

As we pointed out, this incident took place way back in 1994 and involved a student named Raymond Raines who, contrary to Barton's claims, was not yelled at for praying before lunch, but rather for fighting in the cafeteria.

But just because something might be demonstrably untrue, that is not going to stop Barton from repeating it, which he did again today on "WallBuilders Live":

Here's a good one: [In] St Louis, Missouri, an elementary student was praying over his lunch; a school official jerked him out of his seat - lifted him up physically out of his seat - reprimanded him in front of the other students for praying over his lunch and took him to the principal who ordered him to stop praying over his lunch. Can you believe that?

No, as a matter of fact, we cannot believe that ... because it is not true. 

Land Issues 'Genuine and Heartfelt Apology' for Trayvon Martin Comments

Several weeks ago, Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, set off a controversy when he delivered a rant on his weekly radio program claiming that all the attention being paid to the Trayvon Martin shooting was "being done to try gin up the black vote for an African-American president who is in deep, deep, deep trouble for re-election."

Initially,  Land stood by his comments and vowed that he would never "bow to the false god of political correctness," but as the controversy grew, Land eventually relented a bit and issued a rather weak statement blaming others for the "misunderstanding" and complaining that he had "overestimated the progress" the country has made on issues involving race.

This dismissive non-apology only made matters worse, prompting Land to meet face-to-face with several Black SBC leaders last week, after which he issued a "genuine and heartfelt apology" for his statements and thanking these leaders "for holding me accountable": 

"I am here today to offer my genuine and heartfelt apology for the harm my words of March 31, 2012, have caused to specific individuals, the cause of racial reconciliation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the ministry of The Reverend James Dixon, Jr. the president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a group of brethren who met with me earlier this month, I have come to understand in sharper relief how damaging my words were.

"I admit that my comments were expressed in anger at what I thought was one injustice -- the tragic death of Trayvon Martin -- being followed by another injustice -- the media trial of George Zimmerman, without appeal to due judicial process and vigilante justice promulgated by the New Black Panthers. Like my brothers in the Lord, I want true justice to prevail and must await the revelation of the facts of the case in a court of law. Nevertheless, I was guilty of making injudicious comments.

"First, I want to confess my insensitivity to the Trayvon Martin family for my imbalanced characterization of their son which was based on news reports, not personal knowledge. My heart truly goes out to a family whose lives have been turned upside down by the shocking death of a beloved child. I can only imagine their sense of loss and deeply regret any way in which my language may have contributed to their pain.

"Second, I am here to confess that I impugned the motives of President Obama and the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It was unchristian and unwise for me to have done so. God alone is the searcher of men's hearts. I cannot know what motivated them in their comments in this case. I have sent personal letters of apology to each of them asking for them to forgive me. I continue to pray for them regularly, and for our president daily.

"Third, I do not believe that crime statistics should in any way justify viewing a person of another race as a threat. I own my earlier words about statistics; and I regret that they may suggest that racial profiling is justifiable. I have been an outspoken opponent of profiling and was grief-stricken to learn that comments I had made were taken as a defense of what I believe is both unchristian and unconstitutional. I share the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that all men, women, boys, and girls would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Racial profiling is a heinous injustice. I should have been more careful in my choice of words.

"Fourth, I must clarify another poor choice of words. I most assuredly do not believe American racism is a 'myth' in the sense that it is imaginary or fictitious. It is all too real and all too insidious. My reference to myth in this case was to a story used to push a political agenda. Because I believe racism is such a grievous sin, I stand firmly against its politicization. Racial justice is a non-partisan ideal and should be embraced by both sides of the political aisle.

"Finally, I want to express my deep gratitude to Reverend Dixon and the other men who met with me recently for their Christ-like witness, brotherly kindness, and undaunting courage. We are brethren who have been knit together by the love of Jesus Christ and the passion to reach the world with the message of that love. I pledge to them -- and to all who are within the sound of my voice -- that I will continue to my dying breath to seek racial justice and that I will work harder than ever to be self-disciplined in my speech. I am grateful to them for holding me accountable.

NOM's Hypocrisy on Civility

The National Organization for Marriage has found time between its campaigns to enshrine anti-gay discrimination in state constitutions to join a Religious Right attack on gay activist and author Dan Savage, who has forthrightly apologized for comments he made when some students walked out of a speech he gave at a high school.  Earlier this week, NOM blogger and “culture director” Thomas Peters, speaking about the incident on a Seattle radio show, said NOM wants to debate issues like marriage with civility and respect.  When the interviewer told Peters he has heard vitriolic and denigrating language about gay people from religious leaders opposed to marriage equality, Peters said that “when people on our side have said something like that, NOM is always very careful to distance ourselves from those sort of comments, to say, ‘that’s not us, that’s not our movement.’”

Really? Is that why NOM promoted Rev. Patrick Wooden as a spokesman for the anti-gay amendment that voters in North Carolina just passed?  As RWW has reported, Wooden has called anti-LGBT violence “normal” and encouraged parents to beat their transgender child, blamed Oprah, Tyler Perry and the cast of Glee for promoting “wicked” and “perverse” causes, said that Chaz Bono is controlled by demons and claimed homosexuality is a “wicked, deviant, immoral, self-destructive, anti-human sexual behavior."

We have also reported that NOM also promoted Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, who Brian notes has said that gay rights is “Satan’s plan” and “Satan’s point of attack on the United States,” claimed “Oprah [Winfrey] will have to answer to her Creator” for “promoting” homosexuality, wondered if gay TSA agents were deliberately groping passengers, attacked the US for trying “to lecture the Ugandans about homosexuality” by opposing their “kill the gays” bill, and agreed with Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern that homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism and the greatest threat to America.

Faced with this vitriolic and denigrating language, NOM's response has not been to say, “that’s not us, that’s not our movement” -- it has been to promote the vitriol-spewers as spokespersons for their movement.  So it’s hard to take too seriously anything NOM says about civil debate.

Beverage Giant Diageo Drops Heartland Institute

Joining the scores of corporations that have recently dropped their support of ultra-conservative organizations that represent shady, undemocratic and disingenuous practices, the London-based beverage giant Diageo, which owns brands such as Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnny Walker and others, announced that they will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank. General Motors also discontinued their support for the organization earlier this year.

The decision came after the Heartland Institute ran an unsavory billboard ad showing a picture of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, with a caption that read, “I still believe in global warming. Do you?”

In addition to the Unabomber, the Heartland Institute’s ad campaign also compares climate change scientists and advocates to murderers such as Charles Manson and the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and the organization believes that "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society," a statement reads. "This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen."

The Institute, which receives funding from the Koch Brothers, has also posted an impassioned defense of the American Legislative Exchange Council on their blog: “The Heartland Institute stands with ALEC in support of free enterprise, limited government, and federalism, and asks that you do so as well.” Apparently, this includes a blatantly disingenuous and hateful ad campaign that calls those who oppose their pro-oil, pro Koch-brothers agenda, even scientists, “murderers” and “tyrants.”

While Diageo should be commended for severing ties with the Heartland Institute, the corporation unfortunately has not joined a number of other corporations, including The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsi and Kraft Foods, who have severed their ties with ALEC.

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