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Theodore Shoebat: Homosexuality Leads To Cannibalism, Kill Those Who Won’t Submit To Christianity

Theodore Shoebat posted a video yesterday calling for the institution of a "Christian collectivist society" in America in which collective punishment is imposed and where those who refuse to submit to Christianity are put to death.

As Shoebat explained, the problem with America is that it is too individualistic, only punishing criminals for the crimes they have committed instead of imposing collective punishments in an effort to root out the beliefs or behaviors that led to the crime in the first place. 

For instance, he said, the correct response to the crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer would have been to punish him for his transgressions, but then to also outlaw homosexuality because "it leads to serial killers, it leads to cannibalism, it leads to murder" and is a danger to the collective Christian society.

Non-Christians would be allowed to live in this society, Shoebat magnanimously stated, provided that they "respect and honor the Christian faith." Those who refuse to do so and seek to promote any sort of "diabolical belief system or an explicitly anti-Christian sentiment" would be put to death.

Democracy for Some?

This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

Fearless is the word that comes to mind after a recent visit to Selma with 60 members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) and African American Ministers In Action (AAMIA). Fearless were those who sat in, marched in, taught, prayed, would not be denied 50 years ago. They established the paradigm for what those of us today, who sadly are still in battles for many rights, but more specifically voting rights, must do.

Republican politicians who claim there is no need to restore the protections we lost two years ago when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA) need not look any further than Alabama today to see why they are very wrong.

Alabama has a voter ID law requiring people to show government-issued identification in order to vote. But last week the state announced it was closing 31 driver’s license offices, including offices in all counties where Black residents comprise over three quarters of registered voters. In other words, the state is requiring that voters have ID to cast a ballot, and then taking away the places to get that ID - for Black communities in particular. If that doesn’t show that voting protections are still needed, I don’t know what does.

Despite this appalling development, Jeb Bush said yesterday that he doesn’t support reauthorizing the VRA, suggesting that there’s no longer a need for it.

No longer a need for it? The destructive changes in Alabama are exactly the kind of measures that the VRA was designed to protect against. For years, Alabama was one of the states covered by Section 5 of the Act, which required certain places with a history of voting discrimination to get all changes in voting procedures cleared by the federal government before they could take effect. That law stopped scores of voting changes from being implemented in Alabama before they could do any harm. But thanks to the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, that safeguard is gone. On the very same day the Shelby County Supreme Court ruling eviscerated the VRA, Alabama said it would start enforcing its voter ID law.

The fearless women and men in the same state that serves as a symbol of the advancement of voting rights, those Baby Boomers, must still fight with the Millennials to protect them. Like our tour guide last month, Joanne Bland, who in 1965 was an 11 year old member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, activists’ refusal to be discouraged from praying and marching in 1965 is still encouraging in 2015.  She and others were honored by thousands who marched and prayed this year on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, including President Obama, Congressman John Lewis, and countless faith and community leaders and activists. They remain the symbol of intergenerational strategic and sacrificial actions that must be taken still today to address and end ongoing racial discrimination in voting.

But it’s not just Alabama. In Mississippi our AAMLC members are seeing precincts closing in or near African American churches, forcing Black residents to travel to white communities to vote. In Florida, a state representative is talking about Republicans winning elections by maximizing the number of incarcerated African Americans in a district, framing the disenfranchisement of Black Americans as an opportunity for political gain. Since the 2010 elections, a whopping 21 states have put new laws in place that make it harder to vote.

Like those who were fearless in the past, we must be fearless today and make sure that all know the fundamental, inalienable right to cast a ballot is in danger still, especially for people of color. Our political system is built on the promise of democracy for all, not democracy for those who can afford to drive cross-state on a weekday to get an ID. How can GOP leaders and presidential candidates continue to insist with a straight face that there’s no need to restore protections for voters? I wish they could one day walk, march in our shoes, to feel the pain of a promise with unnecessary barriers, to try to register and vote.  In the meantime let’s be fearless!

PFAW Foundation

Barton: Churchgoers Are 'Unanimous' In Wanting To Hear Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay Sermons

One of the most interesting aspects of monitoring David Barton, the right-wing pseudo-historian who is currently running one of Ted Cruz's presidential Super PACs, is watching how the claims that he makes become more and more dishonest as the misinformation that he spreads goes unchecked by his audience and associates.

A few weeks ago, Barton appeared on Glenn Beck's television program to promote a new survey conducted by Christian pollster George Barna, which they all falsely claimed had found that the vast majority of churchgoers wanted to hear their pastors preach against things like legal abortion and gay marriage.

As we pointed out at the time, "92% of the total respondents" of Barna's survey were conservative Christian activists, meaning that it really only represented the views of "spiritually active Christians who hold politically conservative views." But despite the fact that this survey was absurdly biased and represented only the views of a narrow segment of the Christian population, Barton has been hard at work falsely claiming that it represents the views of all churchgoers as he seeks to encourage pastors to start preaching on the issues that are central to his right-wing political agenda.

Last night, Barton appeared on Beck's television program again to misleadingly promote this same survey, which he did this time by claiming that it shows that churchgoers are "unanimous" in wanting to hear these sorts of right-wing issues preached from their pulpits. 

Barton, without a hint of irony, stated that conservatives tend to remain quiet on contentious cultural issues because "they're concerned about truth" and often don't feel that they know enough to be able to comment intelligently on such issues, unlike liberals, who don't care about the truth at all and "will just throw stuff out all the time."

He then proceeded to explain his theory that 20 percent of the population will "oppose everything all of the time," which means that if a survey finds that 80 percent of people support something, then it is essentially unanimous. As such, he said that Barna's survey, which supposedly found that upwards of 80 percent of all churchgoers want to hear anti-abortion and ant-gay sermons, means that American congregations are unanimous on these positions.

"It's a landslide," he said. "When I see a poll that has 80 percent, that tells me it is unanimous. You';re going to have 20 percent of the people who don't think the sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west, so you'll always have 20 percent who are loudmouths on the other side. When you get 80 percent, you're talking unanimous."

Samuel Rodriguez Hails Cindy Jacobs As 'A Legitimate Prophet Of God'

For years, we have marveled that Samuel Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has managed to maintain a reputation as some sort of a moderate conservative evangelical leader while, at the same time, regularly partnering with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right.

Perhaps nothing better demonstrates his ties to even the outermost fringes of the movement like the praise he heaped upon Cindy Jacobs when she appeared on his TBN program "The Lamb's Agenda" last month.

Jacobs is a self-proclaimed modern-day prophet who is infamous for having once declared that a rash of bird deaths in Arkansas was the result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She routinely claims that her prayers have stopped terrorist attacks, saved the economy, prevented coups, and captured world leaders. Her prayers can likewise heal medical conditions, cure insanity, and even bring people back from the dead. Jacobs' prophetic gifts are so powerful, in fact, that even her young children had the power to stop tornadoes and prevent presidential assassinations.

With a record as impressive and verifiable as that, it was no wonder that Rodriguez would hail Jacobs as one of those "voices that God has anointed with such integrity" that she cannot possibly be anything but "a legitimate instrument of God, a legitimate prophet of God."

"There are integral vessels," he said, "there are men and women of God with integrity, whereby they utter a word and it comes from Heaven, so I want this audience and you to help me welcome one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God, Dr. Cindy Jacobs."

'We Will Beg The Lord Above To Destroy Us': Glenn Beck Freaks Out Over The Removal Of Ten Commandments Monument

Doomsday prophet Glenn Beck issued a dire warning to America on his radio program today, declaring that this nation will soon beg the Lord to destroy us simply so we can escape the evil that we have unleashed upon the world.

What set Beck off this time was the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from outside the Oklahoma state capitol earlier this week, which, for some reason, he falsely conflated with the installation of a statue of Satan in Detroit back in July.

Beck literally read from this Time Magazine article, dated July 27, about the satanic statue as he repeatedly insisted that its unveiling had taken place last Saturday night, just days before the Ten Commandments monument was removed in Oklahoma.

The (false) juxtaposition of these two events, Beck warned, is proof that America has crossed a line into pure, unadulterated evil.

"I warn you America," he stated, choking back tears, "you will be the darkest nation to ever, ever exist on this planet. Evil will not destroy us, it will pervert us, it will use the technology and the strength that we have, it will use us for dark purposes. In the end, we will beg the Lord above to destroy us! We will beg for destruction to stop the evil that we will bring to this earth."

The fact that nobody cares "that there is a statue to Lucifer that has been erected last Saturday in Detroit" is outrageous, Beck said.

"Let me tell you, it is a big deal," he warned. "God will not be mocked on his own land, by his own people."

Allow us to also point out that immediately following this extended rant, Beck then interviewed Sen. Marco Rubio about his presidential bid.

Matthew Hagee: Stop Mass Shooting By Outlawing Video Games

On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," Matthew Hagee interviewed conservative San Antonio talk radio host Trey Ware about last week's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Both men agreed that the problem with mass shootings in America has nothing to do with the prevalence of guns but rather can be traced back to things like violent video games.

"Common sense gun control means two things," Ware said. "First of all, repeal a lot of the restrictions on the Second Amendment ... And secondly, outlaw the gun-free zones."

The only way to stop mass shootings, Hagee stated in response, is to arm yourself and "match fire with fire" ... and outlaw video games.

"It is horriffic when things like this occur," he said, "but the argument is not that we need stricter gun laws, the argument is that we need a change of heart. Why aren't we, for example, outlawing videos games that teach children that these kinds of activities are acceptable?"

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker: State Courts Must Defy The Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Ruling

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer interviewed Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, a former Religious Right activist and aide to Chief Justice Roy Moore who has become a radical justice in his own right, for two segments about the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling earlier this year.

After making the case that the Obergefell decision does not even apply to Alabama, Parker absurdly asserted that the Supreme Court had no grounds upon which to issue the decision in the first place because gays are not being denied equal treatment under the law since everyone is free to marry someone of the opposite sex. 

As such, Parker said, it is imperative that state supreme courts stand up to the U.S. Supreme Court in defiance of its ruling in this case in order to foment a "revival" that will return this nation to its founding principles.

"The states should be a check on the federal government," he said, "and the proper organ within a state to do that versus the U.S. Supreme Court would be a state supreme court. Now, I doubt that it would be a blanket defiance of all jurisdiction on the U.S. Supreme Court, but in regards to the Obergefell decision where it's clear that they jumped outside of the precedents in order to impose their will on this country, that yes, resisting that decision could maybe start a revival of what we need in this country and return to our original founding principles."

Hagee: Christians Must 'Storm The Voting Booths And Vote The Bible'

John Hagee was the guest on James Robison's television program again today, where the two men continued their discussion of the existence and influence of demons as Hagee recounted his very first experience with a woman who became demon-possessed after playing with tarot cards.

But all that demon talk was really just a precursor to the main point of the program, which was the importane of getting Christians to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

It is imperative that the church "rise up and correct this nation's course," Robison said, and Hagee agreed, declaring that Christians must "storm the voting booths and vote the Bible" in order to throw all the "pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage" politicians out of office.

"The Bible says when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice. But the people of God have to stand up and speak up," Hagee said. "We, as salt and light, need to storm the voting booths and vote the Bible. Don't send some political hack to Washington who will continue doing the same old things of pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, all of the things that are dragging this country down. Send someone that has a godly conviction, not what the speech they are writing or giving but by what their voting record says they are. And if they're not doing the righteous thing, send someone in their place to go. And if you can't find that one, run yourself!  There is nothing wrong with you running."

Fischer: The Media Is Collapsing Because It Has Been Mean To Kim Davis

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer continued to complain about the fact that the Vatican has distanced itself from Kim Davis after the controversial Kentucky county clerk met with Pope Francis when both were in Washington, D.C., last month.

Fischer blamed the "low-information media" for supposedly trying to destroy Davis' reputation and asserted that it is just this sort of thing that is causing the institution to collapse.

"Nobody is watching the low-information media anymore," he said. "Their rating are going through the basement. Newspapers are closing down, they're shutting down, they can't sell subscriptions, they can't sell advertising space. Why is that? It's become of stuff like this, because of what the low-information media does, they way they turn on good-hearted, ordinary decent people like Kim Davis. Demonize her, vilify her, mock her, ridicule her and the American people say, 'No, I'm not down with that. That's not an American thing to do. That's not fair. There's nothing kind about that.'"

"They want to harpoon this woman," he stated, "and that's why people are turned to the low-information media."

John Hagee Was Saved By An Angel But Couldn't Save A Woman From Demon Possession Brought On By 'The Exorcist'

John Hagee appeared on James Robison's television program today to promote his most recent book, "The Three Heavens: Angels, Demons and What Lies Ahead." Given the title, it was not surprising that much of the program was dedicated to a discussion of the existence and influence of angels and demons in world, with Hagee providing personal examples of his experiences with both.

In the first instance, Hagee recalled an incident from December, 1971, in which a man carrying a loaded gun entered his church, stood eight feet away and declared that he had come to kill Hagee in order "to demonstrate that Satan has more power than Jesus Christ."

Hagee responded by holding up his Bible and proclaiming that "no weapon formed against me shall prosper," at which point the gunmen fired six shots from close range and fled. The gunman was eventually tackled by a parishioner and arrested, while Hagee miraculously survived without a scratch because he was being protected by an angel.

"The next day, the police came and put a two-by-four where he was standing and took string and measured it and the bullet holes in the wall," Hagee recalled. "See, I'm standing right where I stood. There were three bullets to the left and three bullets to the right. I believe the angel of God was there parrying those bullets right and left to preserve my life. I would not be alive without the protection of the angels of God."

Later in the program, Hagee recalled a different situation in which a young woman went to see the film "The Exorcist" and became demon-possessed to such an extent that she began howling during the middle of one of his sermons. Hagee sought to pray for the woman but was prevented from doing so by her father, who was a psychiatrist, and so she eventually wound up in a psychiatric institution because Hagee had not been allowed to deliver her through prayer.

"It is not an innocent thing when you walk into the kingdom of darkness," Hagee warned. "The demonic power can take you over and the only thing that will get it out is the authority of Jesus' name and the blood of the cross."

Fischer: The Bullies In 'The Gay Gestapo' Have Intimidated The Pope

Bryan Fischer is not at all happy about reports that the Vatican is contradicting the claims from Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and her attorneys at Liberty Counsel that Davis was invited to meet privately with Pope Francis when both were in Washington, D.C. last week, during which the pope allegedly praised her for standing strong in her fight to prevent her county office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

On his radio show today, Fischer insisted that the version of events put forth by Liberty Counsel can be trusted because "Mat Staver is a man of absolute, unquestioned integrity, so when Mat Staver speaks, he is going to tell you the truth."

Um, not exactly.

The fact that the Vatican is now backing away from Davis, Fischer said, is a testament to the strength of the bullies in "the Gay Gestapo."

"What this story illustrates is the power of the Gay Gestapo," he said. "What this story illustrates is the power and the influence of pro-sodomy lobby in international affairs. Big Gay and homosexual lobby, homosexual activists, have so much power that they can intimidate the pope himself ... The bigots and bullies of Big Gay have intimidated the pope."

'He Is A Very Small, Sad Man': Glenn Beck Did Not Appreciate President Obama's Comments On Oregon Shooting

Glenn Beck's response on his radio program this morning to yesterday's mass shooting at a community college in Oregon was rather schizophrenic.

After spending the first hour of the show reading a prayer to God and telling his audience not to focus on the anger and hatred that seemingly motivated the attack, but rather to hold up those who reacted heroically, Beck then spent an entire segment discussing his acquisition of a golden ticket from the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," during which he grew increasingly emotional and teary-eyed as he recounted the plot of the film, especially the climatic line, "so shines a good deed in a weary world."

After urging his listening audience to focus on those who did just this sort of a "good deed" in the wake of the shooting instead of focusing on the negative, Beck then returned from a commercial break and spent the next segment furiously attacking President Obama as a small, sad, and pathetic man for daring to politicize this nation's seemingly endless wave of mass killings.

"I just have to tell you this, and I believe I speak by commandment," Beck said, without a hint of irony. "Stop listening to the liars."

He then played a clip of Obama speaking yesterday about the shooting, saying that these mass killings are "something we should politicize," and then proceeded to spend ten minutes ripping the president to shreds.

"This is the history of this man," he declared. "It's obscene! And it's time we start saying those words. 'Mr. President, that is obscene. We deserve better than this. We demand better than this.' ... This man just came out and said this needs to be politicized! I refuse to be divided by him anymore. He is a very small, sad man."

"He is not worth your time," Beck continued. "It is really, truly sad to see how little our president had made himself and how little he has made the presidency of the United States. It is truly sad and pathetic."

David Barton Now Misleadingly Using Barna Poll To Mobilize Conservative Christian GOTV Effort

Last week, we noted that David Barton and Glenn Beck had launched an effort to pressure pastors into speaking out on issues of importance to conservatives by misleadingly citing a survey conducted by Christian pollster George Barna.

All three men appeared on Beck's show to promote the poll, claiming that it found that large majorities of average churchgoers are clamoring to have their pastors preach against things like abortion, gay marriage and the separation of church and state. In reality, the poll represented only the views of "spiritually active Christians who hold politically conservative views," which was not surprising since conservative Christians made up "92% of the total respondents."

Barton is now this same poll to promote an effort called "One Nation Under God," which was organized by Pastor Erwin Lutzer and Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly and is aimed at getting pastors to mobilize their congregations to vote and get involved in politics.

Barton filmed a video on behalf of the effort in which he, once again, misleadingly created the impression that the findings of the Barna poll represent the views of all churchgoers.

Saying that the poll represents the views of "Bible-minded churchgoers," Barton proceeded to declare time and again that "an astounding 91 percent of churchgoers say that it was critically important that they learn the biblical perspective on abortion," and that "82 percent of Bible-believing churchgoers felt that it was crucial to hear the biblical view of sexual identity," and that "80 percent of churchgoers want to hear about Israel," and that "79 percent of churchgoers want to hear about our Christian heritage."

Of course, what the poll really found was that these were the issues that conservative Christians want to hear their pastors preach about. But Barton never bothers to mention that basic fact because doing so would undermine his effort to create the impression that America's churches are filled with people just dying to hear anti-abortion and anti-gay sermons.

'This Is The Time Of Persecution!': Glenn Beck Has Another Meltdown

Glenn Beck had another meltdown on his radio show today, brought on by the international community's struggle to figure out a cohesive and unified plan for dealing with the threat posed by ISIS, but which eventually branched out to include everything from the failure of Christians in America to vote in great enough numbers to the Hillary Clinton email controversy.

After declaring at one point that "we're a despicable nation," Beck began to grow more and more agitated until he finally just started screaming into his microphone.

"Stop listening to the people who got us into this situation in the first place!" he bellowed. "It's all happening and you're still listening to those people. What the hell is wrong with us? It's time to turn some tables over."

"Do you realize it's about 60 percent of Christians aren't even registered to vote? 60 percent! You've been standing around with your hands in your pockets, doing what? You're losing your culture! There have been more people that have been slaughtered for Christianity, in the name of Christ, in last five than the previous 2,000 years," he claimed, dubiously. "This is the time of persecution! And we're sitting around with our hands in our pockets."

Beck then began to rail against the imprisonment of American pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran, which somehow morphed into a rant about the 2016 election.

"You're listening to liars and you know you're listening to liars," he said. "There isn't a Democrat within the sound of my voice that doesn't know that Hillary Clinton, every time she opens her mouth, is a liar ... Fool me once, same on you; fool me a million times, how many times has it been? Fool me this many times, shoot me in the head."

Beck: Agenda 2030 Is A Plot To Establish Global Government

Glenn Beck dedicated his television program last night to issuing dire warnings about "Agenda 2030," an international effort to fight poverty, hunger, war and inequality over the next 15 years, declaring that the plan is really nothing more than a ruse designed to give the UN the power it needs to create a global government.

Beck is not sure if this is the one-world government warned of in the Bible that signals the End Times, mostly because he believes the End Times government will come in the form of the Islamic Caliphate. But maybe the Caliphate will adopt Agenda 2030 as it takes over the world? Who knows? But either way, it is bad news!

"I don't know if this is the global one-world government of the Beast, I have no idea," he said. "I personally think it's the Caliphate. Now, will the Caliphate eventually morph and use this too? I don't know. But I know a global government is coming and I know it's bad."

Trump Meets With Prosperity Gospel Preachers Who Can Cure Ebola And Bring Chickens Back From The Dead

Despite his best efforts, Donald Trump did not receive the warmest of welcomes from the Religious Right activists at last week's Values Voter Summit, but he did find one segment of the movement that has seemingly embraced his message: Prosperity Gospel televangelists.

HBO's John Oliver recently did an entire segment on those who preach the Prosperity Gospel and grow insanely wealthy in the process, and two of its leading practitioners — Kenneth Copeland and Jan Crouch — were among a group of right-wing Christians who recently met with Trump at his office in New York City, where they laid hands on him and prayed for him.

As Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained to Politico, "the people that Trump has so far identified as his evangelical outreach are mostly prosperity gospel types, which are considered by mainstream evangelicals to be heretics," yet Trump had no qualms about courting them and allowing them to pray over him:

It is especially amazing that figures like Copeland and Crouch would be among the invited guests, as both lead highly controversial ministries that have faced serious questions about misuse of funds. On top of that, both Copeland and Crouch are the sorts of preachers who claim that they can, respectively, cure Ebola by speaking in tongues and bring a chicken back from the dead through prayer:

Celebrating Banned Books Week

For decades, the Religious Right has used public school students as pawns in the "culture wars," fighting to impose a political agenda on textbooks and curricula in school districts across the country. This has included battles over sex education, school-led prayer, publicly funded vouchers for religious institutions, and shaping what children learn by controlling the content of textbooks and access to books in school libraries and classrooms. People For the American Way Foundation has a long record of resisting censorship and defending the freedom to learn.

People For the American Way Foundation is a sponsor of Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read -- and an opportunity for readers, authors, publishers, booksellers, and First Amendment advocates to call for continued vigilance against efforts to restrict that freedom. This year’s Banned Books Week has a focus on Young Adult books, which are challenged more frequently than any others.

"These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends,” says Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. As author Sherman Alexie said in response to the censorship of one of his young adult novels, “Everything in the book is what every kid in that school is dealing with on a daily basis, whether it’s masturbation or racism or sexism or the complications of being human. To pretend that kids aren’t dealing with this on an hour-by-hour basis is a form of denial.”

Platt describes the importance of Banned Books Week at the Reading Rainbow blog:

Banned Books Week is celebrated each year because efforts are underway in many parts of this country to remove “offensive” materials from public libraries, school libraries, and classroom reading lists. Arguments can be made for involving parents in the education of their children, and giving them an opportunity to voice objections when some reading material runs counter to their own values, but problems arise when that parent wants to dictate what all children can or cannot read. In the Coda to Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury said: “There’s more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

Many libraries and bookstores are sponsoring events honoring Banned Books Week. Kelly Adams, a children's book specialist at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn., spoke with Minnesota Public Radio:

"Banned Books Week is my favorite week of the whole year. Seriously, it's better than Christmas.... Promoting books that have been banned or challenged shines a light on these attempts at censorship. It is an eye-opening experience for many.... We are basically a country built by rebels. When someone tells us 'you can't read that,' we naturally pick it up and read it."

In response to a recent article dismissing Banned Books Week as unnecessary, Peter Hart at the National Coalition Against Censorship argues that censorship is not just a thing of the past:

Graham thinks several hundred cases a year isn't much to get worked up about. But those numbers are a very conservative estimate of the problem. As Chris Finan of the American Booksellers for Free Expression pointed out recently, the American Library Association believes that as many as 80 percent of challenges go unreported. A Freedom of Information Act research project in two states confirmed this; the vast majority of formal challenges are never revealed publicly.

And what about librarians or school officials who seek to steer clear of controversy by avoiding potentially controversial books altogether? There is no doubt that this kind of chilling effect is real. A survey of over 600 librarians released by the School Library Journal in 2009 revealed that 70 percent reported that the possible reaction from parents affected their decisions not to buy a book. About half of librarians reported that they had gone through a formal challenge, and 20 percent of them revealed that the experience affected their book-buying decisions going forward.

So there's strong evidence that there are far more challenges than are reported, and that those challenges affect institutions over the long run. Self-censorship, as the School Library Journal put it, is "a dirty secret that no one in the profession wants to talk about."

The Banned Books Week website includes case studies on two of the most frequently challenged books, Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Marjan Satrapi’s Persepolis.

You can take the New York Public Library’s banned books quiz at http://www.nypl.org/bannedbooks. And you may be able to find an event near you.

Here’s more information on the impact of censorship challenges from People For the American Way Foundation’s “Book Wars” report:

While individual challenges don’t always succeed in removing a book from a school curriculum or forcing a textbook publisher to alter its content, they can have far-reaching effects.  Attacks on ethnic studies curricula or challenges to books that deal frankly with the lives and histories of marginalized communities can have divisive results beyond their original goals. For example, organizing a protest of a textbook that supposedly “promotes jihad” may not accomplish its stated goal, but might still succeed in stoking fear and resentment against Muslim Americans in that community.

Attacks on multicultural curricula in schools – like Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies classes – are joined by continuing efforts to ban books that acknowledge gay and lesbian families, teach about world religions, or deal frankly with the history of race in America. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, People For the American Way Foundation tracked challenges to books and curricula that included frank discussions of sexuality, race, and the less palatable truths of American history. In the 2000s, challenges focused also on books accused of promoting the “occult” or “undermining” Christianity, leading the Harry Potter series to top the American Library Association’s list of the most challenged books of the decade.

One common theme among many challenged books is their frank portrayals of the experiences of marginalized people. Toni Morrison’s Beloved and The Bluest Eye are unflinching explorations of being a Black woman in America. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian chronicles a Native American teenager’s experiences living in an impoverished reservation, while going to school in a wealthy nearby town. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man explores African-American identity in the mid-20th century. Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima, is a landmark piece of Chicano literature. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale offers a dystopian tale about the oppression of women. Marjane Satrapi’s renowned graphic novel Persepolis, is about a girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution.

And here are some things you can do to fight censorship in your community:

1.       Attend school board meetings. School boards and other school decision-makers need to hear from parents, students, and community members who oppose censorship. Attend school board meetings, and stay in touch with board members and principals — even when there are no censorship challenges — to let them know that you care about fair, accurate, and inclusive schools.

2.       Stay informed. If a parent or activist group challenges a book in your community's school or district, read the book and learn about its author and its history. Then share what you've found with fellow community members and the local media. A strong, well-informed argument is always an effective weapon against misinformation and prejudice.

3.       Make some noise. Start a petition among students and parents in your school or district in support of a challenged book or curriculum, and tell the local media about it. You could also consider holding a protest in favor of the challenged material. In most cases, activists challenging books represent a small fraction of a community; it sends a powerful message when the rest of the community speaks up for its values

4.       Look for outside voices. While the most effective arguments against censorship are made by local students and parents, in some cases it can be helpful to bring in outside experts. If the author of a challenged book is living, consider inviting him or her to join a discussion in your community or to send a statement to school leaders. Free speech advocacy groups, including the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Library Association, and People For the American Way Foundation can also provide resources and advice on how to fight for free speech in schools.

5.       Run for office. If you don't like the way your elected officials handle censorship challenges, consider becoming an elected official yourself! Run for school board or volunteer to serve on a school committee that handles challenges against books.

 

PFAW Foundation

Glenn Beck Contemplates Opening His Own Church So He Can Host A GOP Presidential Debate

On his radio program today, Glenn Beck revealed that he is trying to organize a Republican presidential primary debate that will feature only the candidates that he and his audience could support, thereby excluding the "progressives" like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump.

Unfortunately for him, Reince Priebus and the RNC will not give Beck's network permission to host that type of a limited debate but Beck thinks he has found a loophole that will allow him to do so nonetheless ... though it may require him to start a church that will exist for all of one night.

As Beck explained, a loophole exists that allows churches to invite specific candidates to participate in a discussion forum or debate and so he intends to reach out to some of the megachurches in the Dallas area about hosting just such an event as a front so that Beck's network could then organize, conduct and broadcast it.

But if he can't find a church in which to host his debate, Beck might just have to start his own one-day church.

"I'm thinking about starting the Church of the Glenn," he said. "Now, I'm just going to try it out for a little while. I may not be interested in doing it for very long; it might be just like, one night, on a Thursday when we try it ... The Spirit moves me and sometimes the Spirit will say, 'Open a church' and the very next day, after we do a big event, it might say, 'Close down your church.'"

Jesus has told him, Beck continued, facetiously, "that I should open my church maybe in like a giant movie sound stage.  Oh my gosh, I just realized, this is a giant movie sound stage! Who would have thunk? The first miracle of the Church of Glenn!"

Multi-Millionaire Carly Fiorina: 'All The Rest Of Us Are Getting Crushed' By A System That Benefits The Wealthy

Last night, Glenn Beck dedicated his entire television program to a one-on-one interview that he recently conducted with Carly Fiorina. Unsurprisingly, the interview was not particularly hard-hitting as Beck didn't really bother to challenge the Republican presidential hopeful on anything that she said, choosing instead to focus on important issues like the "the state of her soul."

During the discussion, Fiorina attacked Donald Trump for using eminent domain to take private property for the benefit of his businesses, laughably asserting that she has a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters attending her rallies because they know that she will fight against the "crony capitalism" which benefits only the rich and the powerful.

"Crony capitalism is alive and well," she told Beck. "When you have big, powerful, complicated, costly government, only the wealthy, the powerful, the big and the well-connected can handle it and all the rest of us are getting crushed. And people see that, they feel it in the bones. In their bones, people know if something is so complicated I don't understand it, I'm getting screwed."

Fiorina, for the record, walked away with $40 million when she was fired from Hewlett-Packard back in 2005 and currently has a net worth of $59 million, so we'd love to know exactly how she qualifies as one of "the rest of us [who] are getting crushed" by a system that is rigged to benefit the wealthy.

Fischer: All Immigrants Are Welcome in America, Provided They Convert To Christianity

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer once again made his case that America's immigration policy ought to require all immigrants to convert to Christianity and adopt Christian morals, holidays, and heroes.

"Strangers are welcome here in the United States under one condition," he explained, "that they be willing to assimilate completely into American culture. That they be willing to adopt our God, that they be willing to adopt our Judeo-Christian heritage ... adopt our Christian holidays ... If you come to America, you understand that we are a Christian country and therefore we observe Christian holidays; don't expect us to make room for your holidays. We're expecting you to accommodate yourself to our standards, our traditions, and our holidays."

"We will expect you to adopt our Christian moral values," he continued. "No place, no room for Sharia law in the United States. You'll be welcome here, we'll open our arms to you, we'll open our hearts to you, we'll open our communities to you, but we will expect you to adopt our cultural and Christian moral standards. We will expect you to adopt our Christian heroes and we will expect you to adopt our Christian history."

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