Yesterday, Todd Starnes published a new column in which he asserted that students at a Colorado high school had been banned from celebrating America:
Students and parents at a Colorado high school are outraged after administrators turned down their request for a spirit week day honoring America because it might offend non-Americans.
“They said they didn’t want to offend anyone from other countries or immigrants,” a 16-year-old member of the student council told me. “They just really did not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”
The student council at Fort Collins High School had proposed having a day to celebrate the United States during next week’s Winter Spirit Week. The young people pitched “’Merica Monday” – and invited their classmates to dress in patriotic colors. Their proposal was promptly shot down by administrators.
As we noted last week, when it comes to anything written by Starnes, it is always wise to wait until the people being vilified in his column have had a chance to weigh in and explain their side of the story because it is usually quite different than the version presented by Starnes.
And his latest column was no exception, as the school district became the focus on protests today and was forced to issue a statement asserting that Starnes' column "could not be further from the truth" and explaining that the suggested spirit day name was rejected because school officials felt the slag use of the word "'Merica" was disrespectful:
We regret that the recent decision regarding My Country Monday was viewed as not patriotic. This could not be further from the truth. The original intent of Spirit Week at Fort Collins High School was to unify the student body.
When students first proposed Merica Monday, building administrators felt that it was against this unifying theme and disrespectful to our country. Merica is a slang term that is often used in a negative, stereotypical way to describe life in the United States. This is what led administrators to discuss alternatives with students.
We were surprised that our community interpreted these actions as anti-American. Fort Collins High School is a proud public school in America and supports many activities to celebrate this great nation. Due to this outpouring of sentiment and misinterpretation of intentions, school administrators have decided to rename the first day of Spirit Week America Day as opposed to Merica Day.
We look forward to enjoying the creativity and energy of FCHS students as they celebrate their patriotism next week.
This is just one more example of Starnes' dedication to providing "the most accurate information possible":
Just last week, we noted that the story of Brynn Williams, a six-year old public school student who was supposedly banned from delivering her Christmas presentation in class because of its Christian content, was totally false.
This particular case was ginned up by a California-based group called Advocates for Faith & Freedom which has now decided, even though the entire case is bogus, to continue trying to make an issue out of it:
Legal group Advocates for Faith and Freedom is defending two California students who were censored by school officials when they shared their Christian faith.
The families of Isaiah Martinez and Brynn Williams asked for legal assistance after teachers prevented them from sharing the true meaning of Christmas ...
Williams, a Temecula Valley first grader, brought a Star of Bethlehem from her family's Christmas tree as a show-and-tell assignment, OneNewsNow reported.
The little girl was told by the teacher to sit down before she could share her story.
The legal group has scheduled meetings with each school district and is demanding that the students be allowed to pass out items with the Christmas story and to finish a presentation about Jesus without interruption.
"The pendulum has swung so far in the wrong direction that often school officials, teachers feel entitled to be able to express hostility toward Christian students in the faith," says Robert Tyler, general counsel at Advocates.
The Constitution does not permit that, says Tyler, and instead requires a "neutrality toward all religions."
Advocates is also demanding that each school district adopt a model policy that will protect the religious liberties of all students. The model policy would then be utilized nationwide.
The fundamental issue upon which AFF based its case has been revealed to be utterly false, but the organization is pressing forward nonetheless ... and this is exactly why we always says that Religious Right myths never, ever die.
One of the amazing things about monitoring the Religious Right on a daily basis is realizing the frequency with which right-wing figures engage in abject hypocrisy, seemingly unaware of their own past behavior or public statements.
Take Bryan Fischer's radio program today, for instance, when he and a caller named Bobby had a somewhat contentious exchange stemming from a recent comment made by Paul Reville, the former secretary of education for Massachusetts, was said that "the children belong to all of us."
The debate between Fischer and Bobby was not particularly interesting, but what was interesting is that when Fischer returned from the break, he admitted that he might have been a little too hard on Bobby. Fischer didn't necessarily think he had been unfair and defending his behavior during the previous segment by insisting that the caller had needed some "tough love" because he was refusing to answer Fischer's simple questions.
"He was trying to avoid answer the question," Fischer said, in his own defense. "And that's why I wasn't going to let him skate on the question ... You needed a little tough love there buddy, because you were trying to skate on what was a simple and straightforward and honest question and it was my responsibility to kind of hold you to account for facing the truth":
Now let us contrast Fischer's "tough love" approach to callers on his own show to his behavior when he appeared on Alan Colmes' radio program a few years ago where he literally refused to answer any of Colmes' question, simply repeating the same talking point over and over and over again because he did not like the line of questioning.
To top it off, Fischer then complained that Colmes' interview was nothing but "gotcha journalism," complaining that "there was an answer that he was going to pester me until I gave it and then he could grab it and say 'gotcha,'" which is why Fischer insisted on simply parroting his talking points over and over again:
Today, Fischer literally did this very thing to a caller on his show and defended his actions on the grounds that the caller needed some tough love because he was refusing to answer the questions. But when the roles were reversed, Fischer was outraged because it was nothing more than "gotcha journalism" when it happened to him.
Glenn Beck was pleasantly surprised by last night's Super Bowl because he didn't witness anything that upset or offended him except, of course, for the Coca-Cola commercial featuring a rendition of "America The Beautiful" sung in various languages.
That ad, Beck declared on his radio program today, was "an in your face" effort "to divide people."
The entire point of the ad was, according to Beck, to send the message that "if you don't like it, if you're offended by it, then you're a racist ... That's all this is, is to divide people":
"Coach" Dave Daubenmire was on his computer recently when he received an offer to view pornography on the internet and, while it was unwanted, it was also was very, very tempting to him ... so obviously, the only solution to this sort of temptation is to completely ban and criminalize pornography.
"This may seem really radical to you, but we seem to be rational people here in America," Daubenmire declared. "I believe it's time for us to, once again, ban pornography."
Comparing it to smoking, drug use, and drunk driving, Daubenmire proclaimed that pornography is "the greatest scourge in America" and called for those who produce it and view it to be arrested:
Last week, Pat Robertson spoke with Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" to address the statement he made last year that there was nothing sinful about people who are transgender. In the interview, Robertson stood by his previous assertion, which was mildly surprising ... but what was more surprising is Robertson's belief that he is in no way an "extremist" but is, in fact, quite "balanced" and "mainstream":
Evangelist and businessman Pat Robertson is no stranger to controversy, but he recently told TheBlaze that he believes some of his critics have spread a major fallacy about his political standing.
“Well, I think the misconception is that I’m some sort of right-wing extremist,” Robertson said. That, he said, just isn’t the case. “I’m a graduate of Yale Law School and I’m a businessman.”
Running down his credentials and accomplishments (he founded Regent University, the American Center for Law and Justice and the Christian Broadcasting Network, among other organizations) Robertson said it’s easy to make a caricature of someone to score political points and to dub him or her “extreme” as his critics have done.
In contrast to his media portrait, Robertson believes that he’s actually “extremely balanced.”
“I’m what you’d call a Jeffersonian Democrat [who believes in] fundamental … biblical values,” Robertson said. “That isn’t extreme, that’s mainstream.”
One of the most annoying things about David Barton, aside from his incessant tendency to blindside his co-host Rick Green by asking him questions to which he could not possibly be expected to know the answer, is the fact that Barton rarely bothers to cite any source for the answers that he provides (nor for the "facts" that make up his historical presentations, for that matter).
We have become convinced that one of the reasons Barton generally does not provide the source of his "facts" is because, if he did, people might actually go and look them up on their own and realize that Barton cannot be trusted to accurately relay information because of his tendency to utterly misrepresent even the simplest of facts.
On today's "Wallbuilders Live," Barton once again provided a perfect example of this when he claimed that three-quarters of all abortions performed in America are done on young women ages sixteen and under:
Barton: What demographic group accounts for the largest percentage of abortions? Let me give you [a hint]: this demographic group accounts for seventy-five percent of all abortions ...
Green: I'm going to guess over [the age of] thirty?
Barton: Nope. Gotta go the other way. Seventy-five percent of all abortions are performed on teenagers below the age of sixteen ... Remember, one of the problems we have with abortion clinics is they do not report statutory rape, they do abortions instead. So a young girl comes in pregnant at eleven or twelve or thirteen, that's supposed to be reported as statutory rape because it's well below the age of consent but rather than reporting it, they simply do an abortion ... You have seventy-five percent of all abortions being performed on teens who are sixteen and under.
The figure that Barton cites (or rather, misrepresents) comes from a recent report and presentation from the Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute which found that "almost 3/4 of abortions are to women who initiated sex at age 16 or younger - 40% of women who begin sexual intercourse very early (12-13-14) will have abortions."
The report did not find, as Barton asserted, that three-quarters of all abortions are done on women under the age of sixteen, but rather that almost three-quarters of women who have had abortions became sexually active at the age of sixteen or before.
That is obviously a pretty significant difference and one that "a former math teacher" like Barton ought to understand ... provided, of course, that Barton actually cares about providing accurate information, which certainly does not seem to be a priority for him.
One thing we constantly hear from anti-gay activists is that they do not hate gay people and, in fact, personally have a lot of gay people either as friends or family whom they know and love. But that must not be the case with Tim Wildmon and Linda Harvey because, after listening to them talk about gay people for a few minutes, one has to wonder if they've ever actually even met a gay person.
Harvey was a guest on "AFA Today" recently to discuss her new book "Maybe He's Not Gay: Another View on Homosexuality" and during the interview, Wildmon began to wonder just why gay men are so effeminate, declaring that when he is out in public, "I can tell you who's gay" just by looking at them.
"They have these effeminate, a lot of them, actions," Wildmon declared. "They walk like a girl, a lot of them. I mean, I'm just being honest. This is what everybody says but maybe nobody talks about publicly, and it just makes you wonder, how did that develop, where does that come from?"
An ignorant question like that deserves an equally ignorant answer, which is just want Harvey provided, blaming it on Hollywood's effort to "feminize" men by providing male role models that "just aren't masculine."
"It's very wrong," she said. "It is definitely pulling people away from a biblical model of manhood and womanhood":
On yesterday's broadcast of "Today's Issues," the AFA's Tim Wildmon interviewed Robert Knight about President Obama's recent State of the Union Address and various other issues. During the conversation, Wildmon shared his truly amazing belief that if a Republican president had done the things Obama has done, Republicans would have impeached him and removed him from office.
Wildmon declared that there is no Christian influence within the Democratic Party "so they don't have any moral standards to abide by," which is why Obama can get away with his "lawlessness and lying." Republicans, on the other hand, have a pretty strong "Christian element" within the party that does not tolerate such things, and that is why "if a [Republican] president had done what Obama has done, they would be told 'you gotta go,' by your own party; 'you can 't do this.'"
"I really believe that," Wildmon said ... apparently having forgotten the entire eight years "lawlessness and lying" of the George W. Bush administration:
If you are a member of the Republican National Committee who is currently under intense pressure to resign due to your long history of making bigoted anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, perhaps it is not the best course of action to go on a radio program hosted an equally bigoted Religious Right host with an even longer record of making outrageous statements in an effort to defend yourself.
But that is exactly what Dave Agema did today when he showed up on Bryan Fischer's show in order to play the victim and comparing himself to Phil Robertson and Evander Holyfield and others who have supposedly been persecuted for simply telling the truth. For his part, Agema vowed to stand on principle and never to resign from the RNC rather than become a victim of "political correctness."
"Political correctness is taking the place of freedom of speech," Agema told Fischer. "And if you look at what's happened just here in the news media and particularly in Hollywood in the Grammys, they are just shoving this stuff down our throats and very few people are speaking up. And if you do speak up, you can expect to be slammed, and that's exactly what they call it, slamming and jamming, what they're doing to me right now":
Agema, like so many anti-gay right-wing martyrs before him, seems to be operating under the delusion that "freedom of speech" mean that they are entitled to say anything they want without receiving any criticism or suffering any consequence whatsoever.
Just yesterday we added Gordon Klingenschmitt to the ever-growing list of right-wing activists who have come out in support of Russia's crackdown on "homosexual propaganda" and now we can add Randall Terry as well.
On his "Voice of the Resistance" broadcast yesterday, Terry claimed that gay activists "want access to children because they want to recruit them" by exposing them to "sexually stimulating things" and thereby instilling in them sexual confusion that will make them think they are gay.
Which is why, Terry said, "the Russians have it right; we don't evangelize our children into the homosexual lifestyle":
Rick Santorum called into Steve Malzberg's radio program yesterday to discuss his reaction to President Obama State of the Union address and, like Glenn Beck, he saw in it the hallmarks of Obama becoming a tyrannical dictator.
Malzberg was particularly disturbed by Obama's declarations that "climate change is a fact" and that Obamacare is the law of the land, seeing in those statements a complete dismissal of the Republican point of view. And that takeaway was shared by Santorum, who heard echoes of the recent statement made by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in Obama's speech.
"This attitude is," Santorum said, "we've heard enough from you folks, it's time to get out, get out of the way. If you don't get out of the way, I'm going to do it myself. And this is what tyrants are made of":
As everyone knows, Glenn Beck is a reasonable and rational man who is not at all prone to hyperbole or wholesale emotional breakdowns, which is why it was so surprising to learn that he did not very much like President Obama's State of the Union Address last night, calling it "horrific from start to finish" and declaring that it is the speech that future historians will look back upon as the moment Obama seized control and declared himself to be a dictator.
"Over and over again," Beck said, "looking us in the eye, he said he would use his executive power to get his way. He bragged about it!" As such, Beck urged his audience to note this day in their diaries so that future generations will know the true history, which is that "this was the State of the Union where our president declared he would become America's first dictator":
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Matt Barber and Mat Staver discussed a recent report from Open Doors USA that found that most anti-Christian persecution happening around the world is occurring in Muslim nations.
Barber, of course, used this as an excuse to trot out the standard Religious Right claim that liberals and Muslims are both persecuting Christians at home and abroad because both groups hate God's truth. But the point of the broadcast today was to discuss why American Christians have remained silent while their Christian brothers and sisters around the world have suffered brutal persecution and Barber didn't really know ... but he did know why President Obama hasn't spoken out: because he hates Christians:
Staver: it's one thing to criticize the administration but it's another thing about the church itself. Where are the voices of Christians here in the United States rising to the level of saying that this Christian persecution needs to be addressed?
Barber: Let's parse this out because I think that there are different motives here. When it comes to President Obama, as we discussed in a recent recording of Faith and Freedom, it's pretty clear; for him to criticize these Muslim nations for killing, for murdering and torturing Christians, it doesn't fit the narrative. We know that his sympathies lie with these Muslim nations and against Christianity and against Christians and so it's not surprising that he would choose to be silent. I'm disgusted by it but I'm not surprised by it.
I'm baffled by the silence of the church, as you mentioned, here in the United States and I don't know what the motive of that silence is other than perhaps fear or apathy and it's time for the church to get behind and support these Christians who are being martyred across the world.
So President Obama hasn't spoken out about this persecution because he hates Christians, but Christians haven't spoken out about it either ... for who knows what reason?
We also like to simply note that neither Barber nor Staver have said much, if anything, about this issue in all the years we have been listening to their programs. If Barber is "baffled" by the silence of the church in talking about this issue, he just so happens have a daily radio broadcast and a weekly column that he could be using to combat that, but over the last few years, he apparently hasn't felt that it was much of a priority.
We can now add "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt to the ever-growing list of anti-gay Religious Right activists defending Russia's anti-gay law, declaring on his "Pray In Jesus Name" show today that "it should be illegal to recruit minors into homosexual sin."
In defending Russia's law, Klingenschmitt explained that recruiting children into homosexuality is "totally illegal in the economy and law of God" and, citing Luke 17, declared that "if you're recruiting children into sin, Jesus says you should have the death penalty."
"It's always going to be against God's law," he said, "not only to be gay but especially to recruit children and cause them to stumble":
We have seen it happen time and again: some right-wing group issues a one-sided press release about a student supposedly being unfairly discriminated against in school simply for exercising their Christian faith and the entire Religious Right movement immediately flies into an outrage, spreading the story far and wide as undisputed truth. Then days or weeks later, the real story emerges once school officials are given an opportunity to investigate and explain what really happened and it inevitably reveals that the Religious Right version was completely false, by which point it is already too late because the fake version has already been accepted as gospel and just continues to spread forever.
The most recent example is the story of six-year old Brynn Williams, who was supposedly told that she was not allowed to deliver a presentation on her family's Christmas tradition because she brought the star that her family places atop its Christmas tree, which represents the Star of Bethlehem.
Serial fabricator Todd Starnes was among the first to blindly promote the story:
Brynn Williams decided to bring the Star of Bethlehem that adorned the top of her family’s Christmas tree. She also worked on a one minute presentation to explain that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.
“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree,” the little girl said. “The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world.”
Before the child could utter another word, the teacher intervened, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom – the law firm representing the Williams family.
“Brynn’s teacher said, ‘Stop right there! Go take your seat,’” Tyler said. “Bryn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.”
Tyler said the little girl was the only student in the class not allowed to finish her presentation.
“After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses,” Tyler said.
The story was quickly picked up by just about every Religious Right news outlet and reported as truth, but now the school involved, which "withheld comment until district officials could finish an investigation into the matter," has released a statement from the teacher and school officials which completely debunks the Religious Right's version of the story.
The teacher, Tammy Williams, explained what really happened:
On Thursday, December 19th my class was getting our classroom ready for our holiday party that was to occur the next morning. We took longer than normal putting things away to ensure that the desks were clean and book boxes were put away so that tables could be used for our centers. This was normally something we did on Fridays. Because of this, we were running behind and I still had six students who needed to do their sharing. I had a very limited amount of time and needed to make sure all students had time to share. Now remember, this is sharing. They were not oral reports. Students were asked to share a family tradition. It could be anything, not just a Christmas tradition. During sharing, I work with students on looking at the audience and using clear voices. We also work on listening skills and asking questions.
This student was not the last student to present as had been reported. I still had a couple of students after her (which was the Student of the Day and the Student of the Week). When she started her share, she pulled out her golden star that I held for her as she pulled out her prepared speech
written by one of her parents. This was unusual because rarely does a student have a prepared statement to read. As I held the star, the student began to read her statement. I helped her with a few words that she was having trouble with. I decided that I would have the student stop after sharing about Mary and Joseph. I felt that it would take too long and I still needed her to take her question and I had a few clarifying questions for her as well. At this point, I simply said the following, “Ok, stop here and you get one question.” She simply put her paper down and picked a student who asked her a question. I also asked her, “Who puts the star on the tree? Do you take turns?” I even suggested that her dad could lift her up to let her put it on the tree. After that, she put her star away and sat with the class while we finished with the other students. I monitor all students this way. She at no time complained or acted sad. She was as happy as always.
I want to be very clear about the following.
At no time did I ever tell the student that she could not read the bottom section because it was a Bible verse nor did she ask if she could finish. I never told her to “Stop right there!” or “Go take your seat!” or reprimand her in front of the class for sharing from the Bible. It just did not happen. This subject matter was never discussed. I decided to stop her at that point so the other students would get their share in before the bell rang. My students have always been free to share their ideas.
What saddens me is that this story was twisted into lies and brought to the media. I have never sat down and discussed this directly with the family or the student. I am instead being used to push an agenda for the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.
The school's principal, Ami Paradise, likewise released a statement declaring that the claims of anti-Christian bigotry made by Advocates of Faith and Freedom were entirely bogus:
Over the past week, I have received countless phone calls and 126 mean-spirited emails from across the country as a result of the claims that the Advocates of Faith and Freedom have made against one of my teachers, the school district, and myself. These claims are simply not true.
When I met with the parent on December 20, 2013, she shared that she and her husband were upset that their child was unable to finish her presentation and that they thought it was because it contained a Bible verse. There were absolutely no claims of humiliation or bullying by the classroom teacher. No claims that their child was told to take her seat or that she could not talk about the Bible. These claims have been made in the midst of a media spotlight in order to sensationalize a story. The truth is, there were other students left to present before the end of the day, and there was just not enough time.
Furthermore, when I met with this parent I never told her that her child may not share her beliefs aloud to other students nor did I try to stifle her freedom of speech in any way. I told the parent that I would follow up with the classroom teacher, and I sent her the results of my findings along with the copy of the board policy regarding religion on December 24th, 2013. I have not heard from her since. Not once to tell me that she did not agree with my findings, not once to ask for a classroom change for her child. In fact, with the exception of today, this student has attended school every day since this incident, in the same exact classroom where this alleged incident occurred.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not address the classroom teacher in the center of this controversy-- Mrs. Tammy Williams. Mrs. Tammy Williams is one of the finest educators I have ever worked with. She is an AMAZING first grade teacher, taught my own son last year, and I would not hesitate to put my younger son in her class. She does not deserve the harassment or bullying that she has received, the questioning of her professional skills or judgment, or the claims that she harmed this child in any way.
I stand behind Mrs. Tammy Williams 110% and find it extremely unfortunate that the Advocates for Faith and Freedom have irrevocably caused damage to her good name. The days will pass and this story will not be at the top of the news for long, but the damage that it has done to the good names of Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary School, Mrs. Tammy Williams, and myself will be difficult to repair.
We literally cannot even count the number of times we have seen this exact scenario play out over the years as Religious Right groups gin up an entirely fake controversy in order to play the victim, which then spreads far and wide before officials have even had an opportunity to comment. And we will undoubtedly continue to see it happen again and again so long as people like Starnes and others in the Religious Right grievance machine feel justified in pushing blatantly false stories because doing so helps them advance their agenda.
Fischer was particularly alarmed by Beyoncé's performance at last year's Super Bowl because it was so Satanic that Beyoncé herself was physically transformed right in the middle of the show, becoming indwelt by the demonic spirit that Beyoncé had named "Sasha Fierce":
The good news for Fischer is that Beyoncé "killed off" the Sasha Fierce persona back in 2010, so he has no more need to worry.
Glenn Beck was deeply disturbed by Sunday night's Grammy Awards show, but not for the reason all the other Religious Right activists are outraged. In Beck's case, he was upset by Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" performance, which was unmistakably "demonic."
Calling the performance "full-fledged witchcraft and demonic glorification," Beck said Perry's performance is further proof that American society is worshiping a false, demonic god ... "and it's not going to end well":
Shortly after declaring on his radio show yesterday that seeing same-sex couples get married during the Grammy Awards on Sunday is the sort of that "makes you want to vomit," Erik Rush turned his attention to a tweet sent out by Sally Kohn a few days ago saying that she wants to see a Disney movie in which a princess marries another princess. Rush warned that this sort of deviance is pushing society into civil unrest that will result in people going "homo-hunting" and violently attacking their gay neighbors.
Calling Kohn an "obnoxious, maladjusted lesbian," Rush said that she was exactly the sort of person who is pushing society toward a violent breakdown when lunatics and "people who have just been pushed to the limit" finally snap and start attacking people like Sally Kohn ... which won't really bother Rush "because she sort of served to bring it about."
These people will be pushed over the edge, Rush said, because gay activists advocated for films where two princesses get married or "want to have anal fisting labs in grade school" and are generally working to "oversexualize children." As a result, "you could see a lot of people who don't deserve to get hurt, get hurt because of people like Sally Kohn":