Last week, People For the American Way Foundation hosted a gala at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate founder Norman Lear’s 90th birthday and the Young Elected Officials Network.
The event highlighted Lear’s legendary career as a television producer, and how in 1981, he turned to that medium to express his concern about the growing right-wing movement in America – and People For the American Way Foundation was born. 30 years later, PFAW Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network – consisting of nearly 700 progressive officeholders between 18 and 35 years of age – are at the forefront of change in their communities.
Members of Congress, celebrities, members of the board and community leaders were in attendance to celebrate Norman Lear, the YEO Network and the mission of People For the American Way Foundation.
From left: PFAW Foundation Founder Norman Lear, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan and board member Jane Lynch
From left: Board member Kathleen Turner and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison
From left: YEOs Kesha Ram, Melvin Carter and Angie Buhl
On today's episode of Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, hosts Steve Crampton and Harry Mihet were discussing the Pentagon's decision to no longer allow Bibles to be published bearing the official emblems of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps; a move which has, predictably, outraged the Religious Right.
Somehow Crampton and Mihet managed to tie this issue to a recent Senate hearing on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA,) prompting Crampton to marvel that a transgender person was actually allowed to testify on behalf of the legislation and complain that ENDA is not about "equal rights" but rather "special rights" for gays and cross-dressers.
Crampton stated that if ENDA passed, he could come into work - "God forbid," he said - wearing a dress and would be allowed to use the women's restroom. "In years past," Crampton said, "we had another word for this: it's called insanity":
Young People For (YP4), a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is a year-long leadership development program that helps a diverse set of student leaders turn their idealism into actions that advance social change on their campuses and in their communities. YP4 Fellows design and implement a capstone project called the Blueprint for Social Justice and work on social justice projects of their choosing. We’ll be highlighting the work of some of our outstanding Fellows here.
This week, we’re pleased to introduce Elena Swartz, representing Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing the importance strong voter turnout in order to foster positive change in her community, Elena chose to organize a Civic Empowerment Summit at Bryn Mawr as her Blueprint for Social Justice. The summit provided information on how students can be a voice for change through vote work on campus and in their community, and was strategically planned in the spring to help students plan their voter engagement work ahead of the upcoming fall elections. During the training, Elena shared strategies for effective campus and community outreach, volunteer recruitment, data management, voter registration and more. Elena’s project is so important because the right to vote is constantly under attack by those who want to disenfranchise certain groups of voters for political gain, such as students.
Across the country, states are implementing Voter ID laws that exclude student ID’s from the list of acceptable forms of identification, imposing strict residency requirements to register to vote and some are even requiring college students to travel to their home precincts to vote instead of casting a ballot near their campuses. By organizing and educating her fellow students, Elena is helping to empower young people to take a stand against these measures and strengthen our fundamental rights.
By Erik Lampmann
Norman Lear, more so than almost any other, understands the inspiration, joy, and revitalization to be had by bringing together a diverse and wide movement to share in moments of success -- large and small. This week, I was honored to attend Norman Lear’s 90th Birthday celebration and the kick-off to the Young Elected Officials Network’s national convening. An alum of the Young People For (YP4) millennial fellowship program, I was invited to the event to share my experience and represent young people active in the progressive movement. While being in the presence of celebrities, major donors, and political leaders would give any college student simultaneous sensations of absolute fear and overwhelming excitement, I think the most poignant emotion I felt during the night was a profound sense of purpose, of drive, of calling.
Of the activists and organizers I met Thursday, I was continually impressed not by their successes -- be they electoral, issue-based, or local -- but by their resounding human spirit. From Norman Lear’s keen ability to enrapture a crowd -- whisking them from applause line to somber reflection -- to the YEO members who not only envisioned change but came to embody it within themselves, I was humbled. From talking to students from different campuses about the wins and losses of their organizations this Spring semester to discussing the Presidential Medal Freedom with Dolores Huerta, to hearing Jane Lynch give an interview on the consequences of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case, I was astounded by the grace with which my peers in the movement campaigned for justice with compassion.
I will confess that I am, at times, disillusioned with the progressive movement, in general. As a campus organizer working on progressive public policy and LGBTQ justice in Richmond, VA, I am often disheartened at the gap between what we’ve currently achieved and the ideal that we continue to pursue. While everyday I see the stifling states’ rights conservatism of the former Capital of the Confederacy, local progressive wins seem much slower coming. For these reasons, the reinvigoration of the PFAW Foundation celebration of this past week could not have come at a better time. As I complete a summer research fellowship on political theory and strategize for next year’s mobilizations on-campus, I am reminded of the inclusive, accomplished, and intentional family of YP4 and the dedication of People For the American Way Foundation in the pursuit of justice, equality, and the American Way even despite the challenges ahead.
Indeed, our fight as a movement has never been more necessary or the challenges we face more dire. Most recently, conservative ad hominem attacks on Attorney General Eric Holder continue to distract Congress from meaningful action. Out-of-touch elected officials continue to hold hostage major pieces of policy legislation from confronting the student debt crisis to tackling the federal deficit. Voter suppression bills are -- this very minute -- actively disenfranchising the elderly, youth, and communities of color across the country. Reproductive justice continues to be vilified and erased from popular discourse by those who censure speeches in the Michigan State House, for example, or close all of the abortion clinics in Mississippi simply in order to devalue the personal autonomy of women. Racial profiling continues to make life for undocumented people in Arizona and Alabama that much more difficult. Queer folks continue to challenge a heterosexist culture that seeks to tokenize their experience while the elderly, young people, and the differently-abled are shunned to the margins of political discourse.
Reflecting on the significance of Thursday’s event as well as the struggles to come reminds me of a refrain within this piece, the need for solidarity and union within our movement family. I think my sentiment is expressed best by a quote I first heard at a YP4 training: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -- Assata Shakur.
Erik Lampmann is a junior studying political theory and French at the University of Richmond (VA) and a 2011-2012 YP4 Fellow.
We have spent most of the day collecting reactions from the Religious Right to today's Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of health care reform legislation and listening to hours of radio programs as movement leaders try to understand what happened, what it all means, and where to go next.
Based on what we have heard from them today, the emerging narrative seems to be that the ruling itself was awful and wrongly decided, but that it will ultimately end up doing more harm than good for President Obama as he seeks re-election by leading to a resurgence of Tea Party activism and and landslide for candidates running for office who will vow to repeal the legislation.
Tony Perkins summed it up when he explained on today's radio program that it was Congress and President Obama who were responsible for this legislation that "is a time-bomb of destruction for our nation" and must be replaced in November:
We're right to be disappointed and frustrated by the Court's decision, but it was Congress that did this to begin with. It was Barack Obama who did this to begin with, so I think we've got to go back and put this around them, making them responsible for something that almost 70% of Americans oppose.
We do have a way to correct this, and it's called the election in November. And folks, I'm going to tell you, if you're apathetic and you think "well, I'm not going to vote because I've got a choice between this one and that one and there's not that much difference," there is a difference! Barack Obama is responsible for this health care bill which is going to strip you of your rights as an American citizen in the ability to make your own decisions. It is an infringement upon religious freedom. We have rationing boards that are going to be put in place. These are not seeds, this is a time-bomb of destruction for our nation and President Obama is responsible for it.
Ken Hutcherson in on a mission to take back both the word "gay" and the symbol of the rainbow in his fight against gay rights and made his case on "WallBuilders Live" today with David Barton and Rick Green.
Following the interview with Hutcherson, Barton and Green speculated that the gay rights movement has sought to co-opt these things in order to distort God's blessing upon mankind:
Barton: We don't even think about "gay" in the term it was, we only think it in the way of the new definition ... You know, I hadn't even thought about why they chose that word or how they came to use that word or how that became the denotation for homosexuals. I don't know.
Green: Well, when you take that or the rainbow, as Hutch was saying [is] a promise from God, isn't that part of the goal? To distort what God gave us and to distort what would normally be a blessing and be something that you enjoy and honor and worship God because of?
Barton: Well, it goes back to the Garden [of Eden.] The Serpent said "oh yeah, if you'll eat this you will have the knowledge." Eh, it wasn't the right knowledge; you got knowledge but it was a distorted form. And that's why the Bible also says that Satan appears as an angel of light - he looks like the real thing, but it's a distortion. He doesn't come to give you the good things, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy, not give you life and not give you all the good things Jesus wants to give you in John 10:10, but he looks the same when he comes. You know, he makes the same offer, it just doesn't ever work out that way. And so it's the same thing, you take something good like "gay" and you distort it into something else.
On yesterday's program, Bryan Fischer dedicated a segment to discussing a 2009 newspaper article about bestiality advocates in order to bolster his case against marriage equality, saying that "once you allow sex between two people of the same-sex, there is no place to stop" and it will inevitably lead to the legalization of polygamy, pedophilia, and bestiality:
The American Family Association describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with emphasis on moral issues that impact families.” We know from AFA’s primary spokesperson Bryan Fischer that rank bigotry doesn’t seem to run afoul of AFA’s definition of decency. So where does honesty figure in?
The July-August 2012 issue of the group’s magazine, AFA Journal, includes a two-page spread from David Barton, the “historian” whose lies and misrepresentations have earned him condemnation from actual scholars – including evangelical Christians. The article, “Evidence of executive enmity” supposedly summarizes the evidence that the “anti-biblical” President Obama “has an ax to grind with people of biblical faith.” Barton complains about a range of Obama administration policies and recycles false and misleading claims that have been repeatedly debunked, as RWW’s Kyle Mantyla has noted repeatedly. Barton also claims that Obama demonstrated “preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions.”
Among Barton's Christian-persecution claims is that retired Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin was disinvited from speaking at West Point “because he is an outspoken Christian.” (In reality Boykin was disinvited after many faculty and cadets – most of them Christian – opposed Boykin as an inappropriate speaker given his inflammatory statements describing US foreign policy as a spiritual war against Islam.)
Also featured in the AFA Journal is a quote from “Catholic sociologist” David R. Carlin, Jr, asserting in Crisis magazine that “[T]he drive for same sex marriage is not simply about same sex marriage or the moral legitimization of homosexual behavior; it is also about the de-legitimizing of Christian morality” and that “those who are pushing for the institution of same sex marriage are ipso facto pushing for the elimination of the Christian religion.” But what about all those Christians who support marriage equality? Carlin dismisses them: "The trouble with 'liberal Christianity' is that it isn’t Christianity."
Right now, wildfires are currently devastating parts of Colorado and these fires are making the Colordao-based political arm of Focus on the Family think about ... sex?
It seems that to the folks at CitizenLink, the tragic consequences of these wildfires are just like the tragic consequences of sex-education since teaching students about safe sex is no different than handing them matches and sending them out into the woods:
Wouldn’t we all agree that it’s better to prevent a forest fire, if and when possible, than treat the immense damage in its aftermath?
These questions are similar to what the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) is asking Congress and state legislatures about our nation’s approach toward pre-marital sex ... Certain questions arise: Why aren’t our schools, our states and our nation placing a clear and unquestionable priority on sexual risk avoidance (SRA)? Why are we intentionally spending billions of dollars handing kids matches (condoms), which result in careless (sexual) “fires” and treating victims who have been unnecessarily burned by sex (STDs, pregnancy)? Wouldn’t prevention be cheaper and healthier?
“Safe” sex education – or promoting casual sex, while handing out condoms and birth control to kids – is analogous to passing out matches to kids in school, and telling them, “Be sure you play safely with these in the forest and, above all, have fun!”
It’s irresponsible messaging that encourages high-risk behavior at a great cost to families and our entire nation.
Yet our federal government currently pours nearly 16 times as much money into “safe” sex education than it does into helping kids learn how to avoid starting fires in the area of sexuality or SRA. Perhaps this is why we have so many uncontained “fires” caused by sex outside of marriage.
What can we learn?
- Neither adults nor children should ever play carelessly with matches or fire, especially in forests. Safe places exist to enjoy the warmth of a contained fire in the right context at the right time – started and monitored by responsible adults.
- Neither adults nor children should carelessly play with sex, especially outside of marriage. A safe place exists to enjoy sexual bonding within the right context at the right time – when a responsible, adult man and adult woman are able sustain a lifelong, commitment to each other within the context of marriage.
- Don’t get burned by fire or sex; both can get out of control quickly, and both have the potential to harm you – and to hurt many other people, as well. Keep fires in the fireplace, and keep sex inside of marriage.
Earlier this month, the flu-stopping, casserole-multiplying Rick Joyner hosted a "Freedom Congress" conference that featured speakers like Oliver North and Jerry Boykin, as well as Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
DeMint used his address to urge the audience to get involved in politics because, at the moment, Washington reflects the fact that our culture has become increasingly secular, and so if parents want to teach their children right and wrong they "are likely to be persecuted in some way by the government" for doing so.
And the reason society and government is becoming so secular, DeMint said, is because parents have been sending their children to public schools where they are no longer taught that "God created this earth" even though "we know He did" because science is proving more and more that "it could not have happened by accident." As such, Christians must stand up because God "has put us in charge of this vineyard we call America":
Last week we noted that Bryan Fischer's Bible study has taken him to the Book of Ephesians and a discussion of Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare, prompting him to declare that Satan is behind everything from gay rights to Planned Parenthood to environmentalism.
Yesterday, Fischer wrapped up his study of Ephesians by stating that it is Satan that is ultimately responsible for attacks on Christians who speak the truth and that "the average liberal in the United States" was just someone who had been duped by Satan:
Satan and his evil spirits are not just kind of these vague floating beings that are out there somewhere where they can't get to us, they can't touch us, they can't affect us, they can't influence us; we struggle against them.
Now, we do have people that are adversaries but the point that Paul is making here is that what's behind them, what's behind the work that they do, the things that they think, the things that they say, what's behind them if they oppose us when we stand for the truth, what's behind them ultimately is the Prince of the Power of the Air. And that's why ultimately our struggle is not against people, they're just dupes, they have been deceived, they have been fooled.
You look at the average liberal in the United States, they believe things that are folly. They believe things that are irrational. They believe things that make no sense, that cannot stand up to the test of reason and logic. Why do they believe that? Because they are dupes, they have been deceived and fooled by the Prince of Lies, the Father of Lies and that's why they believe and do what they do.
Over the weekend, Jerry Boykin was interviewed on a radio program out of Bakersfield, California ahead of a scheduled appearance at a local church early next week where he will undoubtedly promote his anti-Islam conspiracy theories.
During the interview, Boykin warned that every serious Muslim was determined to enshrine Sharia wherever they lived and that they were making great progress in establishing it in America. This prompted one of the co-hosts to ask Boykin about Dearborn, Michigan which he claimed was "almost one hundred percent Muslim and operating under Sharia law now," a statement with which Boykin agreed, adding that "if you walk down the streets, you would think you were in Beirut or Damascus":
Just this morning we had a post noting how Eric Metaxas' book "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" had become a favorite of the Religious Right, largely due to parallels they see between Dietrich Bonhoeffer resistance to the Nazi regime and their own opposition to President Obama and his administration.
Now we see that Metaxas and Jennifer Roback Morse of the NOM affiliated Ruth Institute, are featured in a new video from the Acton Institute in which Metaxas declares that, just as Bonhoeffer warned under the Nazis, the time has come for the Church to rise up together against the Obama administration's contraception mandate because it literally represents "a threat to the United States of America" and failure to stop it means "the end of America" because, as Morse ominously notes, if the government can get away with this, then "they're going to squash you like a bug":
Recently, singer Carrie Underwood revealed her support for marriage equality, while Dick and Lynne Cheney publicly supported the marriage of their gay daughter Mary to her partner and even former anti-gay marriage activist David Blankenhorn announced that he had changed his views.
But Janet Mefferd is not impressed, mainly because none of these people have any "reasons" for their views and are unable to provide any "arguments" in favor of them. Instead, Mefferd claims, they are just citing "regurgitated talking points [that are] continually reinforced by an insidious social movement that wants unanimous compliance on its immoral agenda -- an agenda that many more Americans would reject if it were brought into broad daylight, where all its lies, obfuscations and straw men could be exposed."
In fact, Mefferd explains, the "talking points" used to support marriage equality are no different from the talking points used to support the right to choose as gay activists seek to "make "heterosexuals scared to offend homosexuals" and talk about the issue in terms of equality and love while making "no mention of sodomy":
1. Both agendas operate as anti-child cultures of death. Abortion kills children. Homosexual behavior can't create them.
2. Both agendas falsely play on people's unnecessary fear and guilt by focusing on the micro personal story, rather than the macro moral issue. For abortion activists, the question often was framed thusly: "What if your daughter found herself in a crisis pregnancy? Shouldn't she have the right to choose?" The LGBT activist subtly alters his question to this: "What if your daughter announced she's gay? Shouldn't she have the right to choose whom to love?" And, of course, if your answer focuses on deeper questions about the effect on society of embracing abortion on demand or so-called homosexual marriage, rather than personal love for your own flesh and blood, then you look like a jerk. This is why the questions are put the way they are. "This isn't about society. It's about your daughter. Don't you love your daughter?" LGBT activists have gained many a quasi-conservative convert just because that person had a gay daughter, son or friend and couldn't look beyond the love lines. Emphasizing the personal is a very effective tactic, and both lobbies have used it successfully. The abortion lobby did it by making men scared to offend women. The LGBT lobby does it by making heterosexuals scared to offend homosexuals. Same tactic, different objective.
3. Both agendas rely heavily on Orwellian Newspeak. For the abortion activists, the terminology is "a woman's right to choose," "reproductive health decision" or "termination of pregnancy." No mention of babies. For the LGBT activists, the terminology is "equality," "civil rights" and "love." No mention of sodomy.
4. Both agendas count on the media to frame the agenda for the general public, reporting only stories that make the agenda look good and its opposition look bad. From Planned Parenthood to women who have had abortions to abortionists themselves, the media dutifully paints the pro-abortion zealots as selfless heroes who just care about women. One-sided stories are vital to the cause, which is why you'll rarely see more than a token quote from a pro-lifer in any major news report on abortion. And if you're waiting to see an expose on Planned Parenthood or actual pictures of dismembered babies on a nightly TV newscast, keep on waiting.
The LGBT activists enjoy the same treatment. To the media, homosexuals are an honorable and severely oppressed victim class, and they're all born gay -- no exceptions. Consequently, you'll only see media portrayals of Awesome Homosexuals. They're sensitive, good-looking and saintly; they're wonderful friends with brilliant minds, sharp wits and caring personal advice at the ready. And they're everywhere: on TV, in the movies, on the news, in the White House (except the non-Awesome ones who recently got caught flipping off portraits of President Reagan). Which brings up a periodic problem the media has when the storyline doesn't go as planned: you know, like when actress Cynthia Nixon declared that for her, being gay is a choice. Or when singer Melissa Etheridge's partner, Julie Cypher, left her, with this exit line: "I'm not gay." But when Jerry Sandusky or Catholic priests sexually abuse little boys, you won't see any media outlet raise the slightest question about the accused's sexual preferences. Not relevant, homophobe. End of debate.
5. Both agendas have succeeded by obfuscating the physical death, pain or injury that comes from embracing their agenda. When, again, was the last time you saw a major network broadcast photos of dismembered preborn children? Oh, yes, we already covered that. Never. Similarly, why don't we ever see a major news analysis on the health risks of homosexuality, as reported on the website of the Centers for Disease Control? http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/index.htm
I guess we are all to believe that the moment America's First Gay President repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," all the health risks of homosexuality magically went away. Not relevant, homophobe. End of debate.
6. Both agendas have thrived by relying on the Saul Alinsky-esque tactics of targeting, freezing, personalizing and polarizing their opponents. There are no reasonable, honest and fair debates with the Abortion Lobby or the LGBT Lobby. It's not how they get stuff done. It's all about making the opposition look bad, in order to skirt the real issue of whether or not their agenda is moral or good for society. So in the agenda-pushing scheme of things, those who support abortion are reasonable, freedom-loving people with a sense of fairness, and those who don't are judgmental, religious zealots. Those who support so-called homosexual marriage also are reasonable, freedom-loving people with a sense of fairness. And those who don't are judgmental, religious zealots. See how easy that was?
7. Both agendas seek "religious cover." It's why you see stories like the recent news report on the Washington, D.C.-based "Christian" obstetrician, who changed his mind on abortion and decided to start killing preborn children out of his great "compassion" for women. Or why the senior religion editor at The Huffington Post breathlessly reported a story over the weekend about religious people "celebrating" LGBT Pride. Again, religious people who embrace abortion or homosexuality -- even if they're violating the very tenets of their own religion by doing so -- are good. But religious people who oppose those practices are evil, bigoted, homophobic and -- let's face it -- probably hiding a secret abortion or same-sex affair.