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Daniel Lapin Blames 'Dark Pathology Of Liberalism' For Ferguson, Kristallnacht

On his television program last night, Glenn Beck interviewed Rabbi Daniel Lapin about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, which Lapin said was motivated by the same beliefs responsible for Kristallnacht, the infamous Night of Broken Glass during which Nazi paramilitary forces ransacked, looted, and destroyed Jewish homes and business.

"When the dark pathology of liberalism, not so much a doctrine as a sick and twisted pathology, manages to strip Judeo-Christian belief out of American society, congratulations guys, welcome to Ferguson," Lapin said. "You succeeded."

When Beck then asserted that the people behind the protests in Ferguson are the same people who were behind Occupy Wall Street, Lapin readily agreed.

"Same people, same beliefs, same nihilism, same delight in destruction," he said. "You know, it's Kristallnacht in Germany":

Barber And Staver Blame Ferguson Unrest On Obama And Secular Government

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, which they predictably blamed on President Obama and the separation of church and state.

Barber asserted that "the greatest solution for reconciliation is in the person of Jesus Christ," declaring that America must experience a revival in which people turn "toward the founder of the universe and he who is responsible, I don't care what anybody says, for the founding of this great nation."

Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, declared that there would have been unrest in Ferguson regardless of what the grand jury decided because of the lack of state-sponsored religion.

"When we start booting God out of the schools and we boot him out of our communities and we have the silly lawsuits by Freedom From Religion Foundation and others who just want to erase God from the public square," Staver said, "there's consequences when we operate in an environment that is godless."

Barber then replied that the "lawlessness" in Ferguson was entirely predictable and largely the fault of President Obama.

"When we have a president himself who engages in lawlessness, he sets a precedent, he sets an example for others to follow," Barber declared. "He himself has been ruling as an imperial ruler and so it really is frankly not that surprising to me that we would see these rabble-rousers en masse go and burn down these buildings and stuff in a lawless manner":

Bryan Fischer Does Not Like/Understand The Phrase 'A Nation Of Immigrants'

Bryan Fischer spent a good portion of his radio program today voicing his opposition to "amnesty" and any effort to pass immigration reform legislation, at one point going off on an incoherent tangent to complain about the phrase "a nation of immigrants."

The phrase is generally used to make the point that most American citizens today are descendants of ancestors who immigrated to America in previous generations, but Fischer apparently doesn't understand that. 

"Eighty-five to 87% of the people that live in the United States were born here," Fischer argued. "You know what that makes us? That makes us native Americans. We are Americans by birth."

Things then became even more confusing when Fischer began to argue that the Native Americans who inhabited this land when the settlers arrived where themselves immigrants from Eurasia.

"It means that Native American tribes are immigrants too!" Fischer proclaimed. "If we're a nation of immigrants, to use their expression, that has to apply to the Indian Nations that were here when European settlers arrived. Everybody here is an immigrant. Everybody here is a descendant of those who immigrated to these shores."

Ummm, yes. That is exactly what the phrase "a nation of immigrants" means.

Pregnant Workers' Rights at the Supreme Court

Peggy Young's employer made her choose between her job and her pregnancy, but can employers do that?
PFAW Foundation

Hagee: Strict Rules And The Ten Commandments Would Have Prevented Unrest In Ferguson

On yesterday's edition of "The Hagee Hotline," Matthew Hagee and local conservative radio host Trey Ware discussed the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, that erupted after a grand jury failed to indict the police office who shot and killed Michael Brown.

Hagee and Ware are quite certain that all of this unrest is being stoked and orchestrated by unnamed nefarious forces which seek to spread chaos and undermine social cohesion, with Hagee insisting that if the Ten Commandments were being followed, none of this would ever have happened.

Hagee noted that when he was growing up with four siblings, his father John Hagee, set down strict rules that kept the house from descending into chaos because he simply "never let it begin," which is exactly what the government should have done in Ferguson.

"Now that seems like an overly simple principle," Hagee said, in what can only be described an absurd understatement, "but apply it to the situation in Ferguson."

"Put the Ten Commandments into play in the Ferguson situation," he stated. "Thou shalt not steal. What would that commandment have created in this matter? One, there never would have been a reason to be an engagement between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson."

"Thou shalt not kill," he continued, talking not about Wilson's shooting of Brown, but rather the unrelated murder of Zemir Begic in St. Louis over the weekend. "What would that do in the situation we see happening with the young man who was assaulted by a pack of teens carrying hammers who beat his car and then, when he stepped out of the car, beat him to death twenty miles outside of Ferguson in a community just outside of St. Louis? We're seeing these kinds of things pop up all over the place and the excuse is injustice. The truth is we want chaos":

Todd Starnes: Wrong Again

Over the weekend, Todd Starnes received a message on Facebook from a mother in North Carolina who claimed that the Disney Channel's website had banned the word "God." The website, it seems, had asked people to list what they were thankful for and her daughter had attempted to write that she was thankful for "God, my family, my church and my friends," only to have her message rejected.

So naturally, the mother complained to Starnes about this "discrimination" and Starnes, of course, turned the entire thing into another column about supposed anti-Christian persecution in America:

“We together figured out that the word God was the problem,” Julie said.

Sure enough, when they removed the word “God” from the post – the Disney Channel approved Lilly’s message. And then – Julie contacted me.

So, I gave it a try, too. I tried posting what I was thankful for on the Disney Channel website.

And just like Lilly and Julie, Disney prevented me from posting any message that included the word “God.”

...

Disney certainly seems to be implying that thanking God is not nice. Well, neither is blocking the Almighty from a website.

Julie said her daughter is a very loving and accepting child who was raised to understand that not everyone believes in God.

“We’ve always told her that inevitably there would come a day when she would be discriminated against for her faith but we never thought Disney would be the source,” she said.

I do wonder what sort of message the Disney Channel is sending when they tell children that mentioning God in public is bad manners.

Predictably, Fox News seized on the story and interviewed the mother and daughter about Disney's blatant hostility toward God, which eventually prompted Disney to issue an exasperated statement, which Starnes has now added to his column, pointing out that it was not bigotry at work, but simple filtering software:

Disney employs word filtering technology to prevent profanity from appearing on our websites.  Unfortunately, because so many people attempt to abuse the system and use the word "God" in conjunction with profanity, in an abundance of caution our system is forced to catch and prevent any use of the word on our websites.  The company would have been happy to explain our filtering technology to the inquiring family had they contacted us.

Judge Allows Glenn Beck Boston Marathon Defamation Lawsuit To Move Forward

Following the Boston Marathon bombing last year, Glenn Beck set out on a mission to prove that the government was engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up the truth, during which he repeatedly asserted that one of the victims who was injured in the attack was really an al Qaeda operative responsible for the bombing.

In the weeks following the bombing, Beck repeatedly insisted that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, a spectator who was briefly considered to be a "person of interest" by investigators though quickly exonerated, was really an al Qaeda "control agent" and the "money man" who had financed the entire operation and had recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry it out.

In response to these unfounded claims, Alharbi eventually sued Beck for defamation and slander, and Beck's lawyers responded by trying to get the lawsuit thrown out on the grounds that Alharbi was "involuntary public figure" which would require Alharbi to prove not simply that Beck made false accusations against him, but that he did so with "actual malice."

Of course, it was Beck himself who continued to focus attention on Alharbi, meaning that Beck's legal team was essentially arguing that Alharbi became a public figure as a result of Beck's attacks ... which they said means that Alharbi cannot now sue Beck for those very same attacks because he was a public figure.

Needless to say, this novel legal argument did not get very far with the federal judge hearing the case:

A federal judge has rejected a bid by conservative commentator Glenn Beck to toss out a libel lawsuit filed by a Saudi student Beck repeatedly accused of funding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris said the suit brought by Abdulrahman Alharbi could go forward notwithstanding claims by Beck, his website The Blaze.com, and firms connected to his radio show that the Saudi's role in events near the finish line of the marathon made him a public figure. If deemed a public figure, Alharbi would have found it difficult or impossible to proceed with the suit since he would need proof of actual malice: namely, that Beck intentionally lied or recklessly disregarded the truth.

...

"Choosing to attend a sporting event as one of thousands of spectators is not the kind of conduct that a reasonable person would expect to result in publicity. Quite to the contrary, a spectator at an event like the Boston Marathon would reasonably expect to disappear into the throngs of others, never attracting notice by the press. Because he did not 'assume the risk of publicity,' Alharbi does not meet the definition of an involuntary public figure," the judge wrote.

Saris went on to note that Beck continued to level allegations at the Saudi student for several weeks after authorities made clear Alharbi was no longer under investigation.

"Even if a private person meets the definition of an involuntary public figure as a matter of bad luck during a public controversy, the status is of limited duration.

Glenn Beck Theorizes That Progressives Want To Reinstate The Alien and Sedition Acts In Response To Ferguson Unrest

On his radio broadcast today, Glenn Beck played a clip of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan threatening to "tear this goddamn country up" in response to Ferguson, bizarrely suggesting that progressives would now seek to use such threats as an excuse for President Obama to bring back the Alien and Sedition Acts through executive order.

Facetiously playing the role of a naive progressive responding to Farrakhan's remarks, Beck said that the only proper solution is to reinstate the Alien and Sedition Acts so that "if you say anything against the country, we can put you in prison."

Linking this to President Obama's plan to provide millions of dollars for body cameras and training in an effort to help improve relations between local police departments and minority communities, Beck mockingly said that "if only we could get that Alien and Sedition Act back, we'd be a perfect nation, wouldn't we?"

"We'd have somebody that could take it into their own hands," Beck continued, still in character. "We need somebody who is going to start taking matters into their own hands and just getting the job done":

Barton: America Must Have 'A Biblical View On Computer Programming'

Back in September, David Barton spoke at a "Truth For A New Generation" Christian apologetics conference in South Carolina. While at the conference, he participated in an interview which was recently uploaded to YouTube in which he made the case that America must implement a "biblical view" on literally every issue, even down to computer programming.

On marriage, Barton called for the elimination of no-fault divorce, and afterr repeating his claim that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of our right to confront our accusers came directly out of the Bible, Barton said that conservative Christians need to make sure that everything from economics to contracts to employer-employee relations operates according to strictly biblical principles.

Once again citing the importance of Christians wielding total control over the Seven Mountains of culture, Barton demanded that society uphold "a biblical view on computer programing" and fondly recalled how, until the 1960s, Hollywood could not release any film "unless the church approved it."

"Until we get back into saying, you know, I've got to have a biblical view on computer programming, I've got to have a biblical view as a business, as a Chamber of Commerce, whatever it is," Barton said, "if we don't get that back to where everyone has a common worldview and, based on our documents, that is there is a God, he gives you a certain set of rights, government protects those rights, he gives a fixed moral law that I'm not allowed to alter and then, below that, I can make decisions, until we get back to the common understanding of the nation, we won't have a stable nation":

AFA Does Not Support Effort To Establish Christianity As Mississippi's Official Religion

Recently, a pro-Confederacy group in Mississippi launched an effort to get a measure on the ballot in 2016 that, if passed, will establish a "Confederate Heritage Month" in the state, as well as designate English as the official state language. Among the provisions contained in the measure are requirements that whenever an American flag is displayed on a public building, a state flag of the same size must also be displayed and "whenever the pledge of allegiance to the national flag is recited, the state flag salute shall be recited immediately thereafter." On top of that, "whenever the national anthem is played in a public venue or at a public event in Mississippi, either 'Dixie' or 'Go, Mississippi' shall be played immediately thereafter."

Perhaps the most controversial provision of the measure is the requirement that Christianity be recognized as the official state religion, which is just the sort of thing one would expect the Mississippi-based American Family Association to embrace and support. After all, the AFA's leading spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly said that the Constitution was not designed to protect any religion other than Christianity and that states have every right to establish an official religion.

But, amazingly, Fischer and the AFA are not supporting the effort:

Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, told CP that he questioned the need for Initiative 46.

"I'm not clear who is behind this initiative or exactly what problems they're trying to solve," said Fischer of the AFA.

"I will be surprised if the organizers are able to get the number of signatures they need since most Mississippians aren't going to see the need for it. Mississippians like the state just fine as it is."

Fischer added that many "of the provisions in the initiative would be more appropriately handled at the state legislative level if they are to be handled at all."

"Constitutional remedies should be reserved for issues of primary importance. The issue of school mascots, for instance, doesn't rise to that level," said Fischer.

"Our main concern here at AFA is for religious liberty to be preserved in Mississippi, and we believe that our state constitution and the recently passed religious freedom restoration act provide adequate protection for religious freedom here in the Magnolia State."

'New Avenues Of Misrepresentation And Overstatement': A Devastating Review Of David Barton's Pseudo-History​

Back in 2012, Religious Right pseudo-historian David Barton published his book "The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson," through which he sought to portray Jefferson as someone who would make today's Religious Right seem moderate by comparison.

In response to Barton's book, Warren Throckmorton, a professor at Grove City College, began to expose Barton's long track record of producing shoddy works of "history" and, with a fellow Grove City professor, co-authored a response to Barton's book called "Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President."

As a result, Barton's work came under increasing scrutiny and Thomas Nelson Publishing pulled his book from publication. Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Creationist think tank, emerged as a top critic of Barton's disreputable scholarship within the Religious Right and was so alarmed by it that he asked Gregg Frazer, a history professor at Master's College, a Christian university in California, to review some of Barton's work, most notably his popular DVD "America’s Godly Heritage."

After viewing it, Frazer wrote an utterly scathing review of Barton's work for Richards, which Richards then reportedly used in making the case to others in the Religious Right movement that Barton's historical scholarship cannot and should not be trusted.

Today, with Frazer's permission, Throckmorton posted a copy of his review of Barton's DVD on his website and it is absolutely devastating.

Frazer's review is thirteen pages long and exposes the myriad ways in which Barton routinely and intentionally misrepresents American history in order to bolster his own radical right-wing political agenda. Many of the problems that Frazer highlights will be familiar to readers of this blog, as we have covered several of them in the past as well, but the report is well worth reading as it systematically debunks a wide array of Barton's favorite talking points, such as his tendency to credit everything with which he agrees as having come from the "Founding Fathers":

This leads to one last area of concern in America’s Godly Heritage which can best be expressed as a question: Who counts as a “Founding Father?” This issue reappears frequently in Barton’s works. He seems to count anyone of whom he approves who was living at the time of the Revolution, the founding of the political system under the Constitution, or within fifty or sixty years of those times as a “Founding Father.” For example, he says that “the American Tract Society was started by the Founding Fathers.” First, not one of those listed as a Tract  Society founder signed the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. By what standard are they “Founding Fathers?” Furthermore, the Society was started in 1825 – 36 years after the Constitution was ratified. Madison was the last living framer an d he died in 1836. How many Founding Fathers were even alive in 1825? Similarly, in his discussion of Vidal v. Girard, he said it was decided in “the time of the Founders.” It was decided in 1844 –55 years after the Constitution went into effect and, a s was just mentioned, the last framer died in 1836! Barton refers to John Quincy Adams as a “Founding Father.” At the time of the Constitutional Convention, he was a 20 year-old just out of law school (he was 8 when the Declaration was signed) – by what standard is he a “Founding Father?” Barton also claims that the “Founding Fathers” established the New England Primer as a text, but the Founding Fathers did not establish any texts for schools – that was left to local communities to decide. Apparently, by Barton’s standards (whatever they are), local school boards were “Founding Fathers.” Finally, Barton says that the state constitutions indicate that the “Founding Fathers” wanted to be sure that Christians held public office. But the Founding Fathers, in Article VI of the Constitution, specifically disallowed any religious test for office. That would seem to be a strange and counterproductive prohibition to be put in place by those who want to ensure that Christians hold the various offices.

It is worth noting that, according to Throckmorton, this review has been in circulation among Religious Right leaders since 2012 and it does not appear to have diminished Barton's reputation among them in the least, nor has it stopped Barton from routinely peddling misinformation.

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

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

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

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

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

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

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

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

He never did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

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

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

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

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

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

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

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

He never did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

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

PFAW Foundation

Mississippi Judge Striking Down Marriage Ban Explains the Role of Courts

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

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

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

And he means all of this quite literally:

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

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

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

Bryan Fischer Does Not Understand The Concept Of Double Jeopardy

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

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

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

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

Bryan Fischer Says Michael Brown Was Possessed By A Homicidal Demon

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

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

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

Whose State of Emergency?

This post was original published at The Huffington Post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is a state of emergency.

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

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

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

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

PFAW Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

...

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

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

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

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