In November of last year, the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in Overland Park, Kansas installed "11 life-size bronze sculptures that were created and donated to the arboretum by Chinese sculptors," among which was one of a "disjointed body of a young, bare-breasted woman, one thin arm extended to snap a photo of herself":
Some local residents were so outraged by the statue that they sought, without success, to have it removed. So eventually the local chapter of the American Family Association stepped in, claiming that the statue encourages “sexting” and violates obscenity standards, and gathered some 4,700 signatures which have now been delivered to the county clerk in order to have city officials indicted by a grand jury:
Phillip Cosby regional head of the American Family Association delivered 4700 signatures to the county clerks office. He wants the artwork gone, and thinks Overland Park City officials could be indicted on obscenity charges.
"There's more in the message here with the presence of the camera, the obvious come hither posture and the aroused breasts and all the sexual components. The statue is sending a message to children," says Cosby.
"On voting rights in America, the arc of the universe has indeed been long, centuries long, from the three-fifths compromise in the Constitution to the poll tax to the literacy test. But it has always bent toward justice. These new laws seek to bend the arc backward again, to take away from people their effective right to vote."
Ever since last month's tragic shooting at the Family Research Council's headquarters, the Religious Right has been on a mission to laytheblame on the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating FRC and others as anti-gay hate groups.
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, in particular, has been on a crusade to blame the shooting on the SPLC and on Friday's episode of the "Faith and Freedom" radio program, warned everyone in the media not to ever dare to cite the SPLC's anti-gay hate group designations ever again, saying that if they do and "something like this again happens, [they] will also have blood on their hands":
Cleveland, Ohio – Ohio members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) applauded a federal court’s decision today to restore early voting rights for all Ohioans in the three days before November’s election.
In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans cast their votes in the three days before the election. Last year, the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich passed a law eliminating early voting during those three days. The Obama campaign sued to reinstate it. Last Sunday, AAMLC member Rev. Dr. Tony Minor wrote an op-ed in the Plain Dealer criticizing attempts to limit early voting in Ohio.
“This is a victory for our democracy, and a victory for every Ohio voter,” said Rev. Dr. Tony Minor of Cleveland, Ohio coordinator of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “Early voting helped make it easier for many working Ohioans to vote four years ago. It was a success story for civic participation and for civil rights. Our elected officials’ cynical attempts to make it harder for Ohioans to cast our ballots went against both the spirit of our democracy and the letter of our law.”
The African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation founded in 1997, works nationwide to help bring African Americans to the polls through the non-partisan “I Am A VESSEL and I Vote!” program.
Houston, Tex. – Texas members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, praised a federal court decision today striking down Texas’ suppressive voter ID law. A unanimous three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, reviewing the proposed restrictions under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, found that the law “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas.”
“It is inexcusable that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, politicians are still trying to make it harder for African Americans in Texas to vote,” said Rev. Dr. Simeon L. Queen, Prairie View City Councilman and Pastor of Community Affairs & Homeless Services at St. John's Downtown UMC. “I wish the Voting Rights Act wasn’t still necessary, but thank the Lord it’s still there. African Americans in Texas have struggled throughout our history to exercise all of our rights as citizens, including the right to vote without unnecessary restrictions meant to discourage and disenfranchise. Today, thanks to the Voting Rights Act, a major threat to that effort has been defeated.”
“Our elected officials should be trying to get more people to vote, not discouraging those who are trying to participate in our democracy,” said Rev. Dr. Rolen Lewis Womack, Jr. of Houston, co-chair of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “We are working every day to encourage our congregations and communities to vote and to help them get to the ballot box. Today’s ruling removes a major obstacle to that work.”
The African American Ministers Leadership Council, founded in 1997, has been working nationwide to help bring African Americans to the polls in every election, most recently through the newly-launched non-partisan “I Am A VESSEL and I Vote!” program.
Joe Hagan of New York Magazine caught up with Ralph Reed at the RNC and the two had a rather spirited discussion over religion and politics that eventually took on the issue of the contraception mandate and the Religious Right's vehement opposition to it.
Hagan asked Reed why conservatives are so outraged about this issue but don't seem to care that people are required to pay taxes that fund all sorts of things they find objectionable and immoral - like war - for which there are no exemptions.
And the best explanation that Reed could come up with was "I don’t think it’s the same":
The Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to include contraception as part of health insurance provisions, which upset the Catholics —
Not just Catholics. Liberty University, Ohio Christian University — [they are] going to be required to subsidize health services that in their classrooms, they teach is a sin.
The students don’t have to partake of these services.
I’m not talking about the students; I’m talking about the university and the denominations of the church behind it.
So you’re saying they’re paying for a service they don’t intend to use.
Yeah. Well, and that they believe is a moral evil.
But the government wages wars that we all pay for but many of us find to be fundamentally wrong on a spiritual and every other level. Isn’t that the same?
I don’t think it’s the same.
One is a personal choice that may end the life of an unborn child, the other is going to end the lives of thousands of already-born people.
No, not true.
How is that not true?
Because, well … because we allow for an exception, in the draft laws, for conscientious and religious objectors. No respected denomination in the history of this country, not the Quakers — when they were really committed pacifists, less so today — but I’m talking about during the 18th and 19th centuries. Look at the Revolution — where it was a big issue for Quakers. Nobody forced them to serve. It is true they were required to pay taxes, but no evangelical or Catholic is saying they should be required to pay taxes. You see? I think any fair-minded analysis in mainstream theology would say we’re all required to do that.
Reed says the two things are different because nobody is saying people of faith shouldn't be required to pay taxes ... yet one of the Religious Right's most fundamental positions is that tax dollars should never be used to pay for things like abortion because that would result in forcing conservative Christians pay for things they morally oppose. In fact, one of the Religious Right's primary complaints about health care reform is that it "will force taxpayers to fund abortions."
Reed's position seems to be that everyone ought to be required to pay taxes, but those taxes should not be used to force some conservative Christians to fund things they oppose but can be used to force other people fund things that they oppose because ... well, just because.
Yesterday, Ishwar Singh, president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, became the first Sikh to speak at a Republican National Convention when he was invited to deliver the invocation ... and Religious Right activists were predictably concerned:
Fischer was not alone, as Janet Mefferd also voiced her concerns that people "who don't have the slightest similarity to us" are being allowed to pray at the convention ... and that includes Mitt Romney:
This adds new spin to my view of what's going on at the RNC right now because you still hear a little bit of talk God here and there, but it's different. When Mitt Romney talks about God, he's not talking about our God and he has yet to give his speech yet.
But we now have a party that is allowing people to pray at the Republican National Convention who don't have the slightest similarity to us, when it comes to our view of God, at all. At all.
It wasn't that long ago that Pat Buchanan at the 1992 RNC was talking about the great culture war and being a Judeo-Christian nation and how important it was to hold that all together because that was the foundation upon which our country was built. And he was right. He got skewered for it, but he was right.
And look how far we've come. Now, 2012 we have somebody from an Eastern religion offering the invocation at the Republican National Convention. I'm not saying people from different religions can't vote Republican, but what this really is is a syncretism that is kind of seeping under the door like a gas.
A federal judge in Florida yesterday said that he will permanently block new restrictions on voter registration drives that have suppressed registration in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The new restrictions had all but shut down voter registration efforts by major civic engagement groups in Florida.
Elder Lee Harris of Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued the following statement:
“My fellow church leaders and I have been working to get everybody in our community to participate in our democracy. Unfortunately, some of our elected officials want to discourage new voters and drive people away from the polls, rather than drawing new voters in. Discouraging civic participation is a cynical and short-sighted way to try to win an election. Yesterday’s ruling means that more people will have more opportunities to register to vote. This decision is good for Florida, and good for our democracy.”
At the end of September, Religious Right leaders will once again partner with the "prophets" and "apostles" of the New Apostolic Reformation for a pre-election "American For Jesus" rally on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.
But apparently that won't quite be enough, so just a few days later, many of these same leaders and activists are hosting another prayer rally called "The Summons 2012" in Washington, DC that is being organized by National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is chaired by Shirely Dobson, the wife of James Dobson:
With each generation seeming to drift away from the God of our Fathers, now more than ever, it seems that we are truly at the precipice of a societal migration away from our Judeo-Christian foundation. With this in mind, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force has called a Solemn Assembly in Washington D.C. for such a time as this. The urgency of the moment, and the prompting of God, has paved the way for The Summons (October 3-7, 2012) to be a moment in time for God’s people to stand in the gap on behalf of all Americans – perhaps as Moses did for Israel (Exodus 32, Psalm 106). Based on Psalm 50:1-6, this special prayer gathering will focus on all institutions of government within Washington D.C. and include outdoor, corporate worship near the steps of the Capitol building, as well as the base of the Washington Monument. Groups will meet with various congressional leaders, travel to the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and many other key locations to PRAY. This is not an assignment for the faint of heart. You will need walking shoes and clothing suitable for being on location and ‘hitting the streets’, regardless of weather. We invite you to join with us, and several hundred other like-minded believers, for this unique time of prayer and worship in our nation’s capital.
As we move toward The Summons in Washington D.C., please pray specifically, focusing on the seven points of prayer for each state. As we pray, day by day, and state by state, let’s pray for the Spirit of God to sweep through our nation like a ‘mighty, rushing wind’!
Seven Point of Prayer for each State
1) Government – Pray for local and state leaders asking God to grant them wisdom, discernment, and hearts that are open to His leading.
2) Church – Pray for the Churches and Church Leaders throughout that state. Ask God to preserve and protect them, as He inspires and empowers His ‘Saints’ for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Church, and for the spreading of the Gospel.
3) Military – Pray for our Military, Guard, and Reserve units and their leadership. Pray for God to grant courage, protection, and strength for our service men and women, and their families, as they serve our country.
4) Family – Pray for families in your community and across the state. Ask Him for protection, and to strengthen marriages, encourage parents toward His priorities, heal relationships, and secure traditional values in each home.
5) Education – Pray for God’s presence in our schools, colleges, and universities. Ask Him to select teachers and administrators who honor His statutes, protect our children, and inspire them to discover their God-given calling.
6) Media – Pray for Christian influence in the media industry, from local television and radio stations, to newspaper and magazine publishers. Ask for the Lord to provide Godly men and women to work in and influence the media throughout the state and in every city.
7) Business – Pray for divine intervention in the state and local economies. Ask that God raise up Godly business leaders and provide industry to provide honest employment and generous provision for individuals and families in each community.
Self-described "respected prophet" Cindy Jacobs appeared on the program "Power For Life With Matt Sorger" where she discussed her work as both a prophet and an intercessor for nations, revealing that "time and time again" she and her prayer warriors have managed to "avert a number of different potential bombings."
In fact, Jacobs revealed that the accountant at Generals International had a dream about a terrorist attack being planned for Dallas and so the staff began to pray that the police would launch a sting operation and "it was exposed the next day, so we know that God used that prayer":
The extent to which just how thoroughly the Religious Right's agenda dominates the 2012 GOP platform was helpfully exposed last night when David Barton appeared on GBTV to brag that the platform is "the most conservative in my lifetime," revealing that he personally "made 71 motions to add to this platform and 70 of them got passed":
While appearing on Kenneth Copeland's "Believer's Voice of Victory" television program, David Barton said that any effort to change the definition of marriage to include "a man and a man or a dog and a horse" will harm a nation's ability to prosper economically "because you're violating commands of God":
David Barton has returned for another extended appearance on Kenneth Copeland's "Believers Voice of Victory" television program where he made the case that our economic system must be set up to correspond to "the way God says the government should do economics," which means that government needs to "reward those who make a profit."
But rather than doing that, Barton warned, our government is punishing those who have been successful and using their money to reward those who aren't productive or bail-out those who have run their business into the ground ... "and there's no way God is going to bless that ... because we're not following his laws."
But not only is God not going to bless our government, He is "actually going to come down and oppose" it, coming straight out of Heaven to say "what's going on down here? This isn't what I ordained":
Yesterday on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green discussed the case of Arizona pastor Michael Salman who has recently become a Religious Right cause célèbre because he is supposedly being persecuted simply because he wanted to hold Bible study meetings at his home.
In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and had been holding multiple-weekly church services on his property until he was found guilty of dozens of code violations and sentenced to sixty days in jail.
Barton took up the case today and voiced his outrage, calling on voters in Phoenix to work to remove political leaders in that city for allowing something like this to happen. Barton went on to falsely claim that Salman's home was raided by a SWAT team sent to arrest him and said that law enforcement officers must refuse to participate in things like this because they have an obligation to uphold the Constitution:
And the one we have today, the one we're going to talk about today is a great example is a bunch of political leaders in a city who need to be seriously removed. The fact that they would even think about enforcing this particular ordinance against anybody means that we've got a bad set of leaders there that need to be gone.
There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study. The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point.
Today on Focal Point, American Family Association spokesman hosted Monica Cole of One Million Moms, the AFA’s women’s subgroup, to talk about why listeners should be upset about the NBC comedy The New Normal. The New Normal, which involves a gay couple who hire a surrogate mother, is not the first Ryan Murphy show the AFA went after, as Fischer and Cole last year declared war on Glee. Fischer maintained that the show shows “how subversive Hollywood is when it comes to undermining our values” and Cole said the show “continues to attack Christian values, conservative values, the traditional family,” mourning that “the moral decay in public airwaves is continuing.”
Conservative radio host Rusty Humphries served as emcee of last night's Tea PartyUnity Rally ahead of the Republican National Convention where he kicked things off by saying America does not need to move "forward," as MSNBC and President Obama and Mao Tse-tung like to say, but rather "upwards toward God."
And sometimes, Humphries told the audience, you just "have to treat these liberals like dogs; grab them by their collar [and yell] 'bad Democrat, no!'"
Every Friday on 'WallBuilders Live" is "Good News Friday" where David Barton and Rick Green discuss what they consider to be positive developments around the nation and today Barton caught Green off-guard by kicking off the show by citing the Supreme Courts' recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation.
The ruling was good news, Barton explained, because it contained a line written by Chief Justice John Roberts that declared that it was "not [the Supreme Court's] job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." And this sort of statement, Barton declared, is a sign of spiritual revival:
Barton: I'm going to start with a victory, and don't think I'm crazy for choosing this as a victory because I really think it is, but it deals with the Supreme Court's health care decision.
One of the greatest lines out of any Supreme Court case in the last one hundred years is when Chief Justice Roberts said "it is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
Green: Amen to that.
Barton And I say amen! ... Why I really like this is in Jeremiah 31, in that passage God talks about the difference in a nation and how he is going to change the nation, so both Jeremiah and Isaiah talk about this. But he says in the time that a nation's under a curse, he says the proverb is that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. So what they're saying is, the kids say 'hey, it's not our fault; our fathers did this.'
But he says at the Day of the Lord, when he comes and heals the nation, you'll then say each one has eaten sour grapes and his own teeth are set on edge.
Green: You're responsible for your own actions.
Barton: You're responsible for your own stuff; you can't blame this on anybody else. And that's a sign of revival, when you start saying you're responsible for your actions and the court says, hey, you're responsible for your own political decisions, guess what? That is a spiritually good sign.