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African American Ministers Leadership Council Applauds Restoration of Early Voting Rights in Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio – Ohio members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) applauded a federal court’s decision today to restore early voting rights for all Ohioans in the three days before November’s election.

In 2008, 93,000 Ohioans cast their votes in the three days before the election. Last year, the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich passed a law eliminating early voting during those three days. The Obama campaign sued to reinstate it. Last Sunday, AAMLC member Rev. Dr. Tony Minor wrote an op-ed in the Plain Dealer criticizing attempts to limit early voting in Ohio.

“This is a victory for our democracy, and a victory for every Ohio voter,” said Rev. Dr. Tony Minor of Cleveland, Ohio coordinator of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “Early voting helped make it easier for many working Ohioans to vote four years ago. It was a success story for civic participation and for civil rights. Our elected officials’ cynical attempts to make it harder for Ohioans to cast our ballots went against both the spirit of our democracy and the letter of our law.”

The African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation founded in 1997, works nationwide to help bring African Americans to the polls  through the non-partisan “I Am A VESSEL and I Vote!” program.

 

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Texas Pastors Celebrate Court’s Rejection of Voter ID

Houston, Tex. – Texas members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, praised a federal court decision today striking down Texas’ suppressive voter ID law. A unanimous three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, reviewing the proposed restrictions under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, found that the law “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas.”

“It is inexcusable that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, politicians are still trying to make it harder for African Americans in Texas to vote,” said Rev. Dr. Simeon L. Queen, Prairie View City Councilman and Pastor of Community Affairs & Homeless Services at St. John's Downtown UMC. “I wish the Voting Rights Act wasn’t still necessary, but thank the Lord it’s still there. African Americans in Texas have struggled throughout our history to exercise all of our rights as citizens, including the right to vote without unnecessary restrictions meant to discourage and disenfranchise. Today, thanks to the Voting Rights Act, a major threat to that effort has been defeated.”

“Our elected officials should be trying to get more people to vote, not discouraging those who are trying to participate in our democracy,” said Rev. Dr. Rolen Lewis Womack, Jr. of Houston, co-chair of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “We are working every day to encourage our congregations and communities to vote and to help them get to the ballot box. Today’s ruling removes a major obstacle to that work.”

The African American Ministers Leadership Council, founded in 1997, has been working nationwide to help bring African Americans to the polls in every election, most recently through the newly-launched non-partisan “I Am A VESSEL and I Vote!” program.

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Ralph Reed's Distinction Without a Difference

Joe Hagan of New York Magazine caught up with Ralph Reed at the RNC and the two had a rather spirited discussion over religion and politics that eventually took on the issue of the contraception mandate and the Religious Right's vehement opposition to it.

Hagan asked Reed why conservatives are so outraged about this issue but don't seem to care that people are required to pay taxes that fund all sorts of things they find objectionable and immoral - like war - for which there are no exemptions. 

And the best explanation that Reed could come up with was "I don’t think it’s the same":

The Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to include contraception as part of health insurance provisions, which upset the Catholics —

Not just Catholics. Liberty University, Ohio Christian University — [they are] going to be required to subsidize health services that in their classrooms, they teach is a sin.

The students don’t have to partake of these services.

I’m not talking about the students; I’m talking about the university and the denominations of the church behind it.

So you’re saying they’re paying for a service they don’t intend to use.

Yeah. Well, and that they believe is a moral evil.

But the government wages wars that we all pay for but many of us find to be fundamentally wrong on a spiritual and every other level. Isn’t that the same?

I don’t think it’s the same.

One is a personal choice that may end the life of an unborn child, the other is going to end the lives of thousands of already-born people.

No, not true.

How is that not true?

Because, well … because we allow for an exception, in the draft laws, for conscientious and religious objectors. No respected denomination in the history of this country, not the Quakers — when they were really committed pacifists, less so today — but I’m talking about during the 18th and 19th centuries. Look at the Revolution — where it was a big issue for Quakers. Nobody forced them to serve. It is true they were required to pay taxes, but no evangelical or Catholic is saying they should be required to pay taxes. You see? I think any fair-minded analysis in mainstream theology would say we’re all required to do that.

Reed says the two things are different because nobody is saying people of faith shouldn't be required to pay taxes ... yet one of the Religious Right's most fundamental positions is that tax dollars should never be used to pay for things like abortion because that would result in forcing conservative Christians pay for things they morally oppose. In fact, one of the Religious Right's primary complaints about health care reform is that it "will force taxpayers to fund abortions."

Reed's position seems to be that everyone ought to be required to pay taxes, but those taxes should not be used to force some conservative Christians to fund things they oppose but can be used to force other people fund things that they oppose because ... well, just because.

Mefferd Outraged That People 'Who Don't Have The Slightest Similarity to Us' Allowed to Pray at RNC

Yesterday, Ishwar Singh, president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, became the first Sikh to speak at a Republican National Convention when he was invited to deliver the invocation ... and Religious Right activists were predictably concerned:

Fischer was not alone, as Janet Mefferd also voiced her concerns that people "who don't have the slightest similarity to us" are being allowed to pray at the convention ... and that includes Mitt Romney: 

This adds new spin to my view of what's going on at the RNC right now because you still hear a little bit of talk God here and there, but it's different. When Mitt Romney talks about God, he's not talking about our God and he has yet to give his speech yet.

But we now have a party that is allowing people to pray at the Republican National Convention who don't have the slightest similarity to us, when it comes to our view of God, at all. At all.

It wasn't that long ago that Pat Buchanan at the 1992 RNC was talking about the great culture war and being a Judeo-Christian nation and how important it was to hold that all together because that was the foundation upon which our country was built. And he was right. He got skewered for it, but he was right.

And look how far we've come. Now, 2012 we have somebody from an Eastern religion offering the invocation at the Republican National Convention. I'm not saying people from different religions can't vote Republican, but what this really is is a syncretism that is kind of seeping under the door like a gas.

AAMLC Praises Expansion of Florida Voter Registration Rights

 A federal judge in Florida yesterday said that he will permanently block new restrictions on voter registration drives that have suppressed registration in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The new restrictions had all but shut down voter registration efforts by major civic engagement groups in Florida.

Elder Lee Harris of Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, a member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued the following statement:

“My fellow church leaders and I have been working to get everybody in our community to participate in our democracy. Unfortunately, some of our elected officials want to discourage new voters and drive people away from the polls, rather than drawing new voters in. Discouraging civic participation is a cynical and short-sighted way to try to win an election. Yesterday’s ruling means that more people will have more opportunities to register to vote. This decision is good for Florida, and good for our democracy.”

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Congressional Prayer Caucus Teams Up for Seven Mountain-Themed Pre-Election Prayer Rally

At the end of September, Religious Right leaders will once again partner with the "prophets" and "apostles" of the New Apostolic Reformation for a pre-election "American For Jesus" rally on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.

But apparently that won't quite be enough, so just a few days later, many of these same leaders and activists are hosting another prayer rally called "The Summons 2012" in Washington, DC that is being organized by National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is chaired by Shirely Dobson, the wife of James Dobson:

With each generation seeming to drift away from the God of our Fathers, now more than ever, it seems that we are truly at the precipice of a societal migration away from our Judeo-Christian foundation. With this in mind, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force has called a Solemn Assembly in Washington D.C. for such a time as this. The urgency of the moment, and the prompting of God, has paved the way for The Summons (October 3-7, 2012) to be a moment in time for God’s people to stand in the gap on behalf of all Americans – perhaps as Moses did for Israel (Exodus 32, Psalm 106). Based on Psalm 50:1-6, this special prayer gathering will focus on all institutions of government within Washington D.C. and include outdoor, corporate worship near the steps of the Capitol building, as well as the base of the Washington Monument. Groups will meet with various congressional leaders, travel to the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and many other key locations to PRAY. This is not an assignment for the faint of heart. You will need walking shoes and clothing suitable for being on location and ‘hitting the streets’, regardless of weather. We invite you to join with us, and several hundred other like-minded believers, for this unique time of prayer and worship in our nation’s capital.

Speakers include the likes of Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Rep. Randy Forbes along with NAR leaders like Negiel Bigpond and Luis Cataldo, who played a key role in organizing Gov. Rick Perry's NAR-infused "The Response" prayer rally.

Interestingly, the Congressional Prayer Caucus is listed among the "partner ministries" along side Lou Engle's TheCall, Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer, Intercessors for America and various others.

For those who don't recall, Bickle is the one who thinks that Oprah is a forerunner of that Antichrist:

According to the schedule, the event lasts for four days, during which participants will "meet with designated elected officials" and receive a "Private Capitol Tour Led by Congressman Louie Gohmert."

And you will not be surprised to learn that the entire event is rooted in Seven Mountains theology:

As we move toward The Summons in Washington D.C., please pray specifically, focusing on the seven points of prayer for each state. As we pray, day by day, and state by state, let’s pray for the Spirit of God to sweep through our nation like a ‘mighty, rushing wind’!

Seven Point of Prayer for each State

1) Government – Pray for local and state leaders asking God to grant them wisdom, discernment, and hearts that are open to His leading.

2) Church – Pray for the Churches and Church Leaders throughout that state. Ask God to preserve and protect them, as He inspires and empowers His ‘Saints’ for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Church, and for the spreading of the Gospel.

3) Military – Pray for our Military, Guard, and Reserve units and their leadership. Pray for God to grant courage, protection, and strength for our service men and women, and their families, as they serve our country.

4) Family – Pray for families in your community and across the state. Ask Him for protection, and to strengthen marriages, encourage parents toward His priorities, heal relationships, and secure traditional values in each home.

5) Education – Pray for God’s presence in our schools, colleges, and universities. Ask Him to select teachers and administrators who honor His statutes, protect our children, and inspire them to discover their God-given calling.

6) Media – Pray for Christian influence in the media industry, from local television and radio stations, to newspaper and magazine publishers. Ask for the Lord to provide Godly men and women to work in and influence the media throughout the state and in every city.

7) Business – Pray for divine intervention in the state and local economies. Ask that God raise up Godly business leaders and provide industry to provide honest employment and generous provision for individuals and families in each community.

Jacobs: Our Prayers Stop Terrorism

Self-described "respected prophet" Cindy Jacobs appeared on the program "Power For Life With Matt Sorger" where she discussed her work as both a prophet and an intercessor for nations, revealing that "time and time again" she and her prayer warriors have managed to "avert a number of different potential bombings."

In fact, Jacobs revealed that the accountant at Generals International had a dream about a terrorist attack being planned for Dallas and so the staff began to pray that the police would launch a sting operation and "it was exposed the next day, so we know that God used that prayer":

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David Barton Went 70 for 71 in Shaping the GOP Platform

It is already well-known that Religious Right activists played a central role in drafting and shaping the official Republican Party Platform to reflect their political agenda. 

The extent to which just how thoroughly the Religious Right's agenda dominates the 2012 GOP platform was helpfully exposed last night when David Barton appeared on GBTV to brag that the platform is "the most conservative in my lifetime," revealing that he personally "made 71 motions to add to this platform and 70 of them got passed":

Barton: 'Messing Around With Marriage will Affect Economic Prosperity in the Nation'

While appearing on Kenneth Copeland's "Believer's Voice of Victory" television program, David Barton said that any effort to change the definition of marriage to include "a man and a man or a dog and a horse" will harm a nation's ability to prosper economically "because you're violating commands of God":

Barton: God Will Come Out of Heaven to Oppose Our Unbiblical Economic System

David Barton has returned for another extended appearance on Kenneth Copeland's "Believers Voice of Victory" television program where he made the case that our economic system must be set up to correspond to "the way God says the government should do economics," which means that government needs to "reward those who make a profit."  

But rather than doing that, Barton warned, our government is punishing those who have been successful and using their money to reward those who aren't productive or bail-out those who have run their business into the ground ... "and there's no way God is going to bless that ... because we're not following his laws."   

But not only is God not going to bless our government, He is "actually going to come down and oppose" it, coming straight out of Heaven to say "what's going on down here? This isn't what I ordained":

Barton: Cops Should Have Refused to Arrest Arizona Pastor for Illegally Building a Church

Yesterday on "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green discussed the case of Arizona pastor Michael Salman who has recently become a Religious Right cause célèbre because he is  supposedly being persecuted simply because he wanted to hold Bible study meetings at his home. 

In reality, Salman had been attempting to illegally build a church in his back yard and had been holding multiple-weekly church services on his property until he was found guilty of dozens of code violations and sentenced to sixty days in jail.

Barton took up the case today and voiced his outrage, calling on voters in Phoenix to work to remove political leaders in that city for allowing something like this to happen. Barton went on to falsely claim that Salman's home was raided by a SWAT team sent to arrest him and said that law enforcement officers must refuse to participate in things like this because they have an obligation to uphold the Constitution:

And the one we have today, the one we're going to talk about today is a great example is a bunch of political leaders in a city who need to be seriously removed. The fact that they would even think about enforcing this particular ordinance against anybody means that we've got a bad set of leaders there that need to be gone.

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There needs to be some changes in Phoenix and people really do need to let city hall hear it over this. And I'm really concerned about cops who are willing to go in as a SWAT team to arrest a pastor who's had Bible study. The cops should have said "no, we're not doing that. I mean, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution too; there's the right of assembly, the right of speech, the right of religion. We're not going to go arrest this guy with AR-15s and a SWAT team." At some point, citizens are going to have to say we're not going to be part of this and that should have happened at this point.

One Million Moms to Target 'The New Normal' for Promoting 'Moral Decay in Public Airwaves'

Today on Focal Point, American Family Association spokesman hosted Monica Cole of One Million Moms, the AFA’s women’s subgroup, to talk about why listeners should be upset about the NBC comedy The New Normal. The New Normal, which involves a gay couple who hire a surrogate mother, is not the first Ryan Murphy show the AFA went after, as Fischer and Cole last year declared war on Glee. Fischer maintained that the show shows “how subversive Hollywood is when it comes to undermining our values” and Cole said the show “continues to attack Christian values, conservative values, the traditional family,” mourning that “the moral decay in public airwaves is continuing.”

Watch:

Five more companies break ALEC ties

General Electric, Western Union, Sprint Nextel, Symantec and Reckitt Benckiser have become the latest corporations to cut ties to ALEC.
PFAW Foundation

Tea Party Rally Emcee: 'Sometimes You Have to Treat These Liberals Like Dogs'

Conservative radio host Rusty Humphries served as emcee of last night's Tea Party Unity Rally ahead of the Republican National Convention where he kicked things off by saying America does not need to move "forward," as MSNBC and President Obama and Mao Tse-tung like to say, but rather "upwards toward God."

And sometimes, Humphries told the audience, you just "have to treat these liberals like dogs; grab them by their collar [and yell] 'bad Democrat, no!'"

Barton: The SCOTUS Health Care Decision is a Sign of Spiritual Revival

Every Friday on 'WallBuilders Live" is "Good News Friday" where David Barton and Rick Green discuss what they consider to be positive developments around the nation and today Barton caught Green off-guard by kicking off the show by citing the Supreme Courts' recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the health care reform legislation.

The ruling was good news, Barton explained, because it contained a line written by Chief Justice John Roberts that declared that it was "not [the Supreme Court's] job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." And this sort of statement, Barton declared, is a sign of spiritual revival:

Barton: I'm going to start with a victory, and don't think I'm crazy for choosing this as a victory because I really think it is, but it deals with the Supreme Court's health care decision.

One of the greatest lines out of any Supreme Court case in the last one hundred years is when Chief Justice Roberts said "it is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

Green: Amen to that.

Barton And I say amen! ... Why I really like this is in Jeremiah 31, in that passage God talks about the difference in a nation and how he is going to change the nation, so both Jeremiah and Isaiah talk about this. But he says in the time that a nation's under a curse, he says the proverb is that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. So what they're saying is, the kids say 'hey, it's not our fault; our fathers did this.'

But he says at the Day of the Lord, when he comes and heals the nation, you'll then say each one has eaten sour grapes and his own teeth are set on edge.

Green: You're responsible for your own actions.

Barton: You're responsible for your own stuff; you can't blame this on anybody else. And that's a sign of revival, when you start saying you're responsible for your actions and the court says, hey, you're responsible for your own political decisions, guess what? That is a spiritually good sign. 

Even More Conservative Scholars Publicly Question David Barton's Scholarship

Earlier this month, World Magazine published a piece noting that "conservative Christian scholars" had begun to publicly question the veracity of David Barton's work.  That article and the questions it raised about Barton's work was part of a chain of events that ultimately led Barton's publisher to pull his book from circulation and cancel his contract.

Since then, more and more conservatives have been coming forward with their own questions about Barton's pseudo-history while Barton has focused his response primarily on attacking his most prominent critic, Warren Throckmorton, as some sort of fake Christian who cannot be trusted because he doesn't support the use of reparative therapy to "cure" gays.

But while Barton is intent on attacking Throckmorton's conservative bona fides, conservative scholars continue to undermine Barton's credibility, to which Barton has thus far been unable to respond.

In fact, a new piece published today on the World Magazine website quotes several more Glenn Beck-approved scholars agreeing that Barton's book is misleading and that his claims are wrong: 

The Jefferson Lies commends Daniel Dreisbach, an American University professor, calling him one of the few Jefferson scholars who employs a "sound historical approach," so I asked Dreisbach whether he agreed with Barton. Dreisbach replied that he has a "very hard time" accepting the notion that Jefferson was ever an orthodox Christian, or that Jefferson ever embraced Christianity's "transcendent claims."

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Louisiana State University professor James Stoner, one of Glenn Beck's "Beck University" lecturers, says Throckmorton and Coulter's book seems "entirely in line" with what he knows about Jefferson's faith. Stoner describes Jefferson as a "rationalist skeptic."

Professor Kevin Gutzman, who has appeared both on WallBuilders radio and the Glenn Beck program, argues that "Jefferson was not a Christian, if the word 'Christian' has any meaning," because he rejected the Bible's "supernatural content." Gutzman thinks Jefferson's skepticism certainly predated 1813. 

A 'Blacklist' is in the Eye of the Beholder

Earlier this year, GLAAD, with the assistance of Jeremy Hooper, unveiled their Commentator Accountability Project which was aimed at putting "critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters" so that audiences could be accurately informed about their true views whenever these anti-gay activists were featured in the media.

When the list of commentators was release, those who founds themselves on it were quick to scream "McCarthysim," as if merely chronicling their publicly stated anti-gay statements for all to see was some form of blacklist.

In fact, that is exactly what Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber said:

“McCarthyism is alive and well within the ranks of the homo-fascist political lobby. Since liberals can’t win the debate, all they have left is to silence dissent,” said Barber, AFTAH board member and Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action. “As we’ve seen evidenced by the recent [Sandra] Fluke flap involving Rush Limbaugh, left-wing extremists have ramped-up their Orwellian efforts to silence those who pose a threat to their radical secular-socialist agenda.

“I count it an honor to be included among such a distinguished list of pro-family warriors,” Barber said. “As Christ followers, we will never stop speaking God’s truth in love. These homosexualist hatemongers have exposed who they truly are. They will never silence us.”

Said AFTAH’s LaBarbera: “This is all about silencing, discrediting and demonizing pro-family voices. I guess GLAAD is so afraid that the truth about homosexuality will be heard that it will go to the extreme of creating a ‘blacklist’ against moral leaders — for a media already disinclined to be fair on this politically correct issue.”

So it is no small irony that both Barber and LaBarbera have signed on to an open letter to Fox News calling for Truth Wins Out's Wayne Besen to be banned from appearing on the station:

It is time that the O'Reilly Factor cease using Besen as a guest commentator. Providing Besen with a forum lends credibility to his pernicious tactics and enables Besen to exploit his appearances for fundraising purposes.

When Fox News provides a forum to a radical homosexual activist known for employing inflammatory and hateful language in the service of promoting lies, the network becomes complicit in the damage done to the victims of Wayne Besen's and the SPLC's smear campaigns.

We ask the News Corporation, Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly to find more ethical spokespersons for the liberal view of sexuality. In their infamous Washington Post ad accusing FRC of hateful values, Besen and the SPLC claim that "words have consequences." Yes, they do. And Besen's may lead to violence.

If GLAAD's project which simply collected the views of anti-gay activists was, as Barber decried it, nothng less than censorship and a blacklist and downright un-American McCarthyism, what is it when Barber and others sign onto to a letter demanding that someone else be banned from appearing on a major media outlet? 

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