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Trump: GOP Presidential Candidates Are 'Nothings' Who Couldn't Shine His Shoes

In an interview on Friday with Michael Savage, the right-wing radio host who has taken credit for Trump's virulent anti-immigrant rhetoric, Donald Trump lashed out at his conservative critics and Republican presidential rivals.

“I read I shouldn’t be on the same stage with some governor who is a nothing or senator who is a nothing,” Trump said. “I’m not saying that a senator is nothing or a governor, I’m saying that some of these people shouldn’t be on the stage.”

Boasting of his business skills and reality TV success, Trump said that his fellow candidates aren’t even worthy of shining his shoes: “You go to the best college and you do great and all of the sudden you’re not supposed to be on a stage and you have other people that frankly can’t shine your shoes and it’s okay for them to be on it.”

Responding to criticism from the National Review, Trump said that William F. Buckley, the publication’s founder, “must be spinning in his grave, they have a bunch of lowlifes over there.” 

Steve King: Tighter Gun Laws Would Violate America's 'Higher Calling'

In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway on Friday, Rep. Steve King slammed President Obama for remarking in the wake of the mass shooting in Charleston last week that because of tighter gun laws “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

King acknowledged that mass shootings are more frequent in the United States, but said that American has a “higher calling” than preventing “one event of violence” and can only be “the bastion of western civilization” if individual gun rights are unrestricted.

“Yes, we have a Second Amendment,” the Iowa Republican said. “And even if some of this violence could be stopped by confiscating all the guns, we have a charge, our charge is to defend freedom and liberty. We are the bastion of western civilization, and that requires us to be able to defend ourselves against tyranny. That’s the charge that our founding fathers gave us, that’s in our culture, we know that, we’ve had to do that worldwide. So, it’s a much higher calling than believing that somehow we end one event of violence.”


 

 

What Are Anti Marriage Equality Forces Really Demanding?

This article originally appeared on TowleRoad.

Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolutionand civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.

Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolution and civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.

One recent salvo in this rhetorical campaign was a full page ad in the June 10 Washington Post in the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court. The headline read, “We ask you not to force us to choose between the state and the Laws of God.”

“We are Christians who love America and respect the rule of law,” the ad said, “However, we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Similar statements can be found in the“Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage”put together by the same people behind thePost ad. And it’s not much different from language in the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 manifesto written by former National Organization for Marriage chairman Robert George (right) and signed by an array of conservative religious leaders. The Declaration declares that its signers will not “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

The Post ad suggested that a pro-equality ruling would “unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith,” a statement that ignores the many people of faith who do support full equality for LGBT people. The ad was signed by a bunch of far-right anti-gay activists. Here’s just a sampling:

Let’s put aside all the preening about Religious Right leaders’ willingness to endure prison and martyrdom and consider what they’re really after.

First, we can dispense with the notion that they’re just looking for a “live and let live” world in which “Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.” In fact, religious conservatives have opposed every advance in cultural acceptance and legal recognition of the equal rights and dignity of LGBT people, including efforts to protect us in laws targeting violent hate crimes, allow us to serve openly in the military, and prevent us from being discriminated against in the workplace.

Robert George, co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and a founder of the National Organization for Marriage, wrote the legal brief filed by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in the Lawrence v Texas case, defending state laws that made gay people de facto criminals. NOM’s current chairman John Eastman said just this month that he hopes Uganda quickly puts its notorious anti-gay law back into force, a law that included penalties of life in prison for repeat offenders. Other right-wing religious leaders have traveled the globe, from South America to the Caribbean, from Uganda to Russia, Eastern Europe to Central Asia, to support laws that make gay people into criminals for living as they choose, sometimes even for advocating on behalf of LGBT people.

Back here in the U.S., conservative evangelical leaders and their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops falsely portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as fundamentally incompatible, a zero-sum game. That’s their justification for opposing civil unions as well as marriage equality – even for opposing laws to protect people from being fired just for being gay.

The reality is that religious liberty has continued to flourish, and our religious landscape has grown more diverse, in the decades thatpublic attitudes toward gay people have shifted dramatically toward equality. There has been no effort to require clergy to marry mixed faith couples if their faith prohibits it, and nobody wants to force any church or priest to marry or give their religious blessing to same-sex couples.

Next, let’s consider whether all this line-in-the-sand drawing is really about the supposed need for clergy, organizations, and business owners to enforce their religious beliefs about marriage in the public arena. The Catholic Church does not give its religious blessing to marriages involving people who have previously been married and divorced, unless the previous marriage is religiously “annulled.” But Catholic organizations are not loudly advocating for the right of a Catholic business owner to treat opposite-sex couples differently based on whether or not their marriages have the church’s blessing.

Similarly, many evangelical leaders say marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman “for life.” Yet in spite of the biblical passage in which Jesus says that a man who divorces his wife, for any reason other than sexual immorality, and marries another woman is committing adultery, there is no clamor from Religious Right leaders celebrating discrimination against people in second and third marriages.

It is clear that a different standard is being applied to same-sex couples. But anti-gay prejudice — animus is the legal term – is not an acceptable basis for discrimination, even if it is grounded in religious belief.

Now, there’s a reason Religious Right leaders are trying to make the conversation around marriage be about the grandmotherly florist who was fined when she declined to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding, or the conversation about contraception about the Little Sisters of the Poor, who say they don’t want to facilitate abortion. It’s an effort associate the Right’s agenda with a “live and let live” ideal that is appealing to many Americans, regardless of religion or politics.

But here’s the problem: Once you establish the principle – as Supreme Court conservatives did in their Hobby Lobby decision last year – that business owners as well as individuals and organizations should be able to ignore laws that somehow offend their religious beliefs, you have to figure out how far people will be allowed to run with it. It is not yet clear where the justices will draw the line.

That kind of line-drawing is often challenging when dealing with questions about how the government can accommodate religion without government impermissibly favoring it. Religious denominations and houses of worship have the greatest level of protection against government interference; courts and legislatures wrestle with the status of religiously affiliated nonprofits. Until Hobby Lobby, the Court had never ruled that a for-profit corporation could “exercise religion” in a way that is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but now that door has been opened, it is not clear what kinds of anti-LGBT discrimination it could permit.

Anti-equality religious and political leaders have made it clear that they will continue to oppose marriage equality even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling striking down state marriage bans. Some are calling for massive resistance and urging state leaders to refuse to comply with a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling. Professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel have argued in the Yale Law Journal that in such a situation, in which there is a well-organized movement dedicated to pushing the religious exemption further and further, an accommodation may actually be more likely to extend the culture war conflict than resolve it.

It is worth addressing generally fair-minded people who don’t understand why the gay rights movement won’t just be happy with a marriage win and let a few people with religious objections “opt out.” Some people may think it’s no big deal for gay couples to find another florist or baker. For one thing, that approach discounts the humiliation of being turned away from a business, a violation of human dignity that was a motivating force behind laws banning racial discrimination in public accommodation. And it may not be such a small obstacle in smaller, conservative, religiously homogenous communities, where discrimination may flourish if it is invited by law and encouraged by local religious leaders.

Consider the anti-abortion movement as a cautionary tale.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.

Exemptions have been extended to or claimed by nurses who don’t want to provide care to women after an abortion, pharmacists who don’t want to dispense a morning-after pill prescribed by a woman’s doctor, even a bus driver who refused to take a woman to a Planned Parenthood facility because he said he suspected she was going for an abortion.

NeJaime and Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.

The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths.  Just days after theHobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court.

Similarly, some advocates for broad religious exemptions argue that organizations taking taxpayer dollars to provide social services to victims of human trafficking or women who have been victims of rape as a weapon of war should be able to ignore government rules about providing those women with access to the full range of health care they may need. Some groups are saying it would violate their religious freedom even to notify the government when they refuse to provide information or care – such as emergency contraception for teens that have been sexually abused by their traffickers.  But keep the public dollars flowing our way!

Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples. They themselves have claimed as a model the (dismayingly successful) 40-year campaign since Roe v Wade to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. In the words of the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, “Everything the pro-life movement did needs to happen again, but on this new frontier of marriage.”

Where will a similarly aggressive campaign against marriage equality lead? There is a new law in North Carolina allowing magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples. A new law in Michigan allows adoption agencies functioning with government money to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Will corporations be allowed to refuse to hire someone married to a same-sex spouse based on the beliefs of the people who run the company? Will Catholic hospitals, which play an increasingly significant role in our health care system, be able to refuse to recognize same-sex spouses in medical emergencies?

The progress that LGBT people have made toward full equality has been remarkable. In my lifetime, the federal government had a formal policy to fire “sex perverts” and prevent them from getting federal jobs. In my lifetime, state laws criminalizing same-sex relationships were used to fire people from government jobs and even take parents’ children away from them. Even today, in a majority of the states, gay and lesbian people have no protection against being fired for who they are – or who they marry, even if the Supreme Court makes it illegal to keep those weddings from taking place.  In all too many places, a company could fire an employee who marries a same-sex partner, the way Catholic schools across the country have been doing.

The good news is that Americans are increasingly opposed to anti-gay discrimination. Most of the laws that were proposed this year tolegalize anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious belief failed – often thanks to the pro-equality voices of business and religious leaders as well as the hard work of LGBT people and their friends and families and our advocacy organizations.

Most informed observers think the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. If that’s what happens, it will be a historic victory and cause for celebration. But as the signers of the recent WashingtonPost ad have made clear, it will not be the end of the struggle.

PFAW

Mike Huckabee: Fight Gay Marriage Like Dred Scott Ruling With Civil Disobedience

In an interview last week with Fox News pundit Todd Starnes, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee reiterated his call for civil disobedience if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality in the next few days.

Huckabee, who recently issued a letter pledging to fight gay marriage, told Starnes that conservatives should wage “civil disobedience” against a government that “acted outside of nature and nature’s God, outside of the bounds of the law, outside of the bounds of the Constitution,” warning that otherwise they will be forced to commit “biblical disobedience.”

“What if no one had acted in disobedience to the Dred Scott decision of 1857?” Huckabee continued. “What if the entire country had capitulated to judicial tyranny and we just said that because the Supreme Court said in 1857 said that a black person wasn’t fully human? Suppose we had accepted that, suppose Abraham Lincoln, our president, had accepted that, would that have been the right course of action?”

Calling a potential gay marriage ruling patently unconstitutional, Huckabee said that “if we’re not going to follow our Constitution, maybe we should loan it to some developing country so that they could try it out if we’re not going to use it anymore.” 

In the same interview, Huckabee blamed the Charleston church shooting on a lack of guns

Steve King Blames Drugs For Charleston Shooting, Says Undocumented Immigrants Have Killed More People Than 9/11

Steve Malzberg invited Rep. Steve King onto his Newsmax program on Friday to discuss issues ranging from the church shooting in Charleston, which King blamed on prescription medication, to undocumented immigrants, whom he said have killed “multiples of the victims of the September 11 attacks,” to Caitlyn Jenner, whom he said illustrates “how far this society has gone from rational thought.”

The Iowa Republican also had some thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s slam of Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric in his presidential announcement. King said that Clinton unfairly made the “presumption that perhaps there will be some white people that might discriminate against some not-so-white people on the basis of being inspired by Trump’s speech.”

He also attempted to criticize the former secretary of state for inconsistency: “It’s Hillary that says ‘I’m not going to channel my husband,’ but she would channel Donald Trumps announcement speech instead to try to gain a political advantage out of that.”

PFAW’s Drew Courtney Discusses Jeb Bush on ‘The Big Picture’

On Tuesday, PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney joined Thom Hartmann on his program ‘The Big Picture’ to talk about Jeb Bush’s far-right agenda. Courtney critiqued Bush’s plans to privatize Social Security, his support of legislation that shamed women, and his stance on immigration.

Courtney challenged Bush’s label as a moderate, explaining his similarities to extreme conservatives like Scott Walker and Rick Santorum:

[Bush] has not just a record of rhetoric around these issues, pushing really ideologically extreme positions, but he has a record as governor showing what he’ll do when he’s in power, and I don’t think there’s any reason to assume he’ll be either more moderate or more responsible or more reasonable in the White House than he was in the Florida governor’s mansion.

Bush’s views on immigration fail to match the “kind things” he says about immigrants and their families, Courtney said. The presidential hopeful does not support a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the country; a recently released Spanish-language ad from PFAW challenges his stance on this issue and on his opposition to raising the minimum wage. Courtney concluded by emphasizing how important it is for communities to realize the true intentions of all 2016 GOP candidates. He explained, “They are pushing radical policies that the Koch brothers love, and we need to make sure people understand that.”

Watch the full video here:

 

PFAW

Anything But Race: Right-Wing Pundits In Denial Mode Following Charleston Shooting

The confessed shooter who massacred members of a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, made it clear that he sought his victims out because of their race and wanted to start a race war. However, Republican politicians and Fox News pundits have either feigned ignorance about the shooter’s admitted motivations or have come up with alternative explanations for the massacre.

Drugs

While conservative pundits have blasted people for stating that the attack on a black church was a hate crime — based on statements by a witness to the massacre and the shooter himself — many seem to have no problem speculating wildly about other possible explanations. In fact, the only thing they are more angry about is the suggestion that the shooting had anything do with guns.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, furious that President Obama linked the shooting to America’s problem with gun violence dismissed any discussion of the country’s gun laws, saying that the shooter in Charleston was probably drugged-up.

While Perry called the attack “a crime of hate,” he also described it as “an accident.”

Right-wing radio personalities Alex Jones and Michael Savage also wondered if the shooter was on drugs and even part of a government plot to stir up racial violence.

Religious Liberty

Former Sen. Rick Santorum posited that the attack was part of a larger “assault on religious liberty,” a recurring theme that Santorum and other Republicans use on the campaign trail to blast gay rights laws and the separation of church and state. Lindsey Graham, another presidential candidate, made a similar claim: “There are people out there, looking for Christians to kill them.”

The pundits at Fox News, where many of the GOP leaders get their talking points, were in agreement. Steve Doocy said it’s “extraordinary” that the police called the attack a hate crime since it was “was a white guy apparently and a black church,” positing that the attack was the result of the shooter’s “hostility towards Christians.” Brian Kilmeade said the shooter “hates Christian churches” and Elisabeth Hasselbeck called it an “attack on faith,” all the while ignoring the shooter’s explicit mentions of race.

E.W. Jackson, a Fox News contributor, agreed: “Most people jump to the conclusions about race, I long for the day we stop doing that in our country,” before he himself assumed that the shooter was motivated by hatred of Christians. In a radio show interview, Jackson said that gay people, liberals and President Obama all were culpable since the shooting was likely the result of “growing hostility and antipathy to Christianity” and “the biblical worldview about sexuality.”

RedState founder Erick Erickson had a similar take, even throwing Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition into the mix: “A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and ‘a new normal’ cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good. Our American society has a mental illness -- overwhelming narcissism and delusion -- and so cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.”

Abortion Rights

Fox News contributor Alveda King revealed the real reason for the shooting: the legalization of abortion.

“It’s a lack of value for human life…You kill babies in the womb, kill people in their beds, shoot people on the streets, so now you go into the church when people are praying,” she said.

Alex Jones was upset that “the police and Obama keep talking about how coldblooded it was to go sit down with people in a church, and it was, super coldblooded, but isn’t it more coldblooded to kill babies and then go have lunch?”

Blame The Victims

National Rifle Association board member Charles Cotton had some strong words for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in the shooting, who was the pastor of the church and a state senator: “[H]e voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

Not to be outdone, the leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Pinckney. The younger Pratt, the organization’s communications director, called Pinckney an “anti-gun activist,” while Larry Pratt blasted Pinckney for supposedly leaving his congregation “defenseless.”

Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio similarly accused the pastor of turning the church “into a shooting gallery.”

Who knows?

Jeb Bush opened his remarks today at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority summit by saying that no one can ever really know the true motivation behind the attack. Later, he told reporters that he still doesn’t know why the shooter carried out the attack:

 

Bush eventually clarified that he thinks the attack was racially motivated, but he isn’t alone in pleading ignorance.

Even South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said on her Facebook page that “we’ll never understand what motivates anyone” to commit such an atrocity.

Meet The Republican Candidates Who Have Defended The Confederate Flag

Following the murder of nine people in an apparent hate crime in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night, many Americans, including prominent political figures, are calling for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the North side of the state’s capital building. Gov. Nikki Haley, who defended the flag during her campaign for reelection last year and supported its placement because business leaders had not complained to her about its posting, said today that “the state will start talking about” the flag issue again following the shooting.

The following Republican presidential hopefuls have voiced their support for the Confederate flag to remain on government buildings and public property.

Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came to the defense of the South Carolina Confederate flag display yesterday, describing it as an integral “part of who we are”

While Graham did admit to CNN that the flag has been “used in a racist way” in the past, he argued that “the problems we have in south Carolina and the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, it’s about what’s in people’s heart.”

He added that South Carolina’s “compromise” of having both a Confederate War memorial and an African American memorial at the state capitol “works.”

Mike Huckabee

Hoping to mobilize white evangelical voters against Republican “establishment” candidates in 2008, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee demanded his fellow candidates stop asking for the removal of the Confederate flag from government offices.

Huckabee had this to say: “You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag…if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole. That’s what we’d do.”

Rick Perry

During his last presidential campaign, Rick Perry came under scrutiny for his efforts to oppose the removal of the Confederate flag from display at the statehouse when he was lieutenant governor of Texas. In a March, 2000 letter to the Sons of Confederate Veterans obtained by the Associated Press, Perry wrote, “Although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property.”

However, Perry seems to have begun to rethink his stance on Confederate symbols. In 2011, he opposed an effort to create Confederate flag license plates, and in an interview on Newsmax’s The Steve Malzberg Show this week Perry voiced his agreement with critics of the flag that “we need to be looking at these issues as ways to bring the country together. And if these are issues that are pushing us apart, then maybe there’s a good conversation that needs to be had about [it].”

Yes, Seriously, It's About Race

This was originally published at The Huffington Post

As with every Wednesday night in most African American churches, pastor and people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as "Mother Emanuel," were engaged in prayer, worship and study. The atmosphere no doubt would have been relaxed, with familiar faces sharing, even with the stranger among them, testimonies, laughter, and some words of encouragement. In that atmosphere, in the place where so many throughout history have gone for fellowship, to feel safe, to be vulnerable, where loving "thy neighbor as thyself" and welcoming all who walk through the doors are central themes known even by children, the unimaginable took place.

The stranger, a young white gunman allegedly telling the Black worshipers that "you've raped our women and you are taking over the country," opened fire at that historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a friend, supporter and member of the African American Ministers Leadership Council's (AAMLC) ecumenical ministerial alliance, which I lead. Yes, this was a ruthless attack on innocent people in 2015, but it is also reminiscent of the attacks on the Black Church in the '60s, the '50s, the post-Reconstruction era. All of these cowards, whether consciously or not, have targeted the Black Church in an effort to intimidate and diminish the power of its presence as a refuge of hope in the African American community.

Many clergy I have spoken with have been up for two nights, praying, calling, sharing, trying to make sense of an act that is honestly difficult to talk about and brings out a flood of deep emotions. In every conversation or prayer is the painful acknowledgement of the role that race played in this crime, something that Americans around the country from all walks of life get. However, stunningly and probably predictably, some right-wing politicians and pundits not only don't seem to get it, but are attempting to distract and confuse others about what was the obvious, real motivation of this massacre. Seriously?

Rick Santorum said the shooting was an example of recent "assaults on religious liberty," a reference to the idea promoted by him and others that policies preventing discrimination against LGBT people are persecuting conservative Christians. Seriously? That comparison between the long and violent history of white supremacy in America and efforts to secure dignity for gay and lesbian people in the public square is worse than offensive. We can argue about public policy all we want, but we all should be able to realize that being targeted by centuries of racist violence at the center of comfort and power in your community is not the same thing as being fined for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple. This is the kind of "colorblind" analogy that dismisses the very real experiences of Black people in America.

How very sad and not all too shocking to note once again what has become a sad pattern among right-wing commentators. Various conservatives have made similar attempts to play down the racial aspects of the killings of 9 innocent persons, and issue after issue public policies that disproportionately affect African Americans, policies born out of institutionalized efforts to oppress African Americans, are said to be "not about race." Yet, in everything from voting rights to criminal and reproductive justice to housing policies to defunding public education, the common denominator we see is the negative impact policies have on African Americans. It's not hard to see that these laws are strategically aimed at depressing rights and are anything but colorblind coincidences.

A young white man entered an African American place of worship with a loaded gun, sat down in that place for an hour with African American men, women and children, muttered anti-Black racist remarks, shot and killed those persons. Seriously? What about this cannot be viewed as "about race"?

I am thankful for all the Americans of all races who are mourning these senseless killings, angry about the lack of humanity that led to them, and praying for the victims and their families. You don't have to be African American to know this was an assault rooted in a dynamic of American life that too many of our elected leaders would like to ignore or dismiss as ancient history. This is a universal tragedy played out in a very specific American context. To diminish that is to diminish the lived experience of a people whose strength and courage this gunman was trying to take away.

Many are gathering for prayer services even now for the families of those who died for no other reason other than being Black. On Saturday members of AAMLC will join congregations around the country and open their doors for hope, unity and love. The doors will be open to pray yes, and also to register persons to vote and engage in conversations about why Black lives, all lives matter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." It is because of love that racial hatred -- yes, seriously, what this was about -- will not be victorious. I hope and pray that the country will decide "to stick with love" and confront with honest and open hearts the realities we live with and work together to change them. Seriously!

PFAW

Right Wing Steamed Over Pope's Climate Change Encyclical

In the past few decades, politically conservative American Catholics and their allies in the Republican Party got used to having the public voice of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops serving as a politically useful one that prioritized opposition to legal abortion and LGBT equality. So, needless to say, some are having a hard time adjusting to Pope Francis, whose critiques of the dehumanizing excesses of modern corporate capitalism have dismayed some right-wing Catholics. Now, the Pope’s new encyclical on climate change and care for the planet, which apparently did not pay much heed to an April appeal from “Biblical worldview”-promoting climate change denialists or warnings from the Koch Brothers, is pushing some right-wing pundits over the edge.

Alan Keyes, a far-right Catholic and perennial political candidate, argued that the facts about human contribution to climate change have not been established and warned that “the whole push for totalitarian government remediation of the allegedly terrible damage we are inflicting on God’s creation is a slander against the human race, a sin against humanity being committed as a pretext for the rape of human life, human conscience and God-endowed human liberty.”

The never-subtle Keyes said that when he looks “in the mirror of reason at the reflections Pope Francis offers in his encyclical, what I see looks unlike Jesus Christ (who as of now still comes to save and not harshly to penalize humanity).” He added, “Pope Francis’ reflections look more like Marx, Stalin or Mao Zedong – materialistic ideologues who punished not for the sake of God or truth, but on account of resentful, self-idolizing human will and ideology.”

Over at the free-market-adoring Acton Institute, Kishore Jayabalan was more respectful, saying he welcomed the pope’s encyclical, but wrote that he was disappointed that the pope “seems to blame markets, over-consumption and especially finance, rather than human sin, for all our environmental problems.”

Others have had much harsher words for Pope Francis. The reliably bloviating Rush Limbaugh said the encyclical seems to confirm that Francis is a Marxist, a sentiment echoed by Fox News pundit Greg Gutfield. James Delingpole, an editor at Breitbart, said the encyclical includes “hackneyed language and extremely dubious science you might expect from a 16-year-old trotting out the formulaic bilge and accepted faux-wisdom required these days…” At Fox Business, Stuart Varney warned of a sinister alliance between the Pope and President Barack Obama to “reshape the world by taxing the rich, taxing fossil fuels, and redistributing the wealth.” Right-wing radio host Michael Savage, furious at the encyclical, called the Pope “an eco-wolf in pope’s clothing” and “a stealth Marxist in religious garb,” claiming that Francis will put Catholics “in chains” and is reminiscent of “the false prophet in Revelation, an ecumenical spiritual figure directing mankind to worship the Antichrist.”

It’s not just a bunch of pundits.

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg notes that Sen. James Inhofe, a notorious climate change denier, “bluntly told reporters that Francis was out of line.” Inhofe told attendees at a conference of the right-wing Heartland Institute, “The pope ought to stay with his job.” ThinkProgress notes that back in May, the Koch-funded Heartland Institute warned that “the Left” was working with the Pope on climate change, something akin to the “unholy alliance of international communism with the jihadi Islamists.”

Republican presidential candidates have also been slamming the encyclical. Jeb Bush, who has talked about his conversion to Catholicism on the campaign trail, has also suggested the Pope should butt out of the public conversation on climate change. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm,” he said.

Rick Santorum said the church is not credible when “we get involved with controversial political and scientific theories,” not a concern he seems to have when the topic is, oh, same-sex couples getting married or being parents. He told an interviewer, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

As many have noted, the pope has studied more science than Rick Santorum. Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of America Magazine and now a senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter, flipped Santorum’s comments, saying, “It's nice — for once the Catholic Church is on the side of science.” Climate scientists agree.

Alex Jones: Charleston Shooting A Government Plot To Start A Race War, Persecute Conservatives

Alex Jones hosted anti-choice activist Clenard Childress on his “Infowars” program yesterday to discuss the Charleston church shooting, which the two agreed was a government “set-up” intended to foment racial violence, which would then justify the implementation of martial law.

Childress suspected that the shooter was “on a drug” and “given instructions” to massacre the church members in order to “cause a race war” in South Carolina.

“He wasn’t just trying to kill black people, he wanted to stir folks up, or whoever advised him,” Jones said, adding that the “this guy with a chili bowl hair cut guy” looks “mentally disabled” and probably not capable of planning such an event alone.

“We’re being set up,” Childress said.

“This is all a set-up.” Jones agreed: “Oh it is. Look at the priming, look at the preparations…. You can see all of the preparation building towards this, this is the big move, it’s a race war to bring in total chaos and then total federalization with this evil Justice Department, they even got rid of the other attorney general who had baggage, they put the new one in for the political persecutions of conservatives and Christians. They’re dropping the hammer.”

Childress added that the race war is all designed to give the government an excuse to “bring in martial law very quickly.”

Gun Lobbyist Larry Pratt Blames 'Anti-Second-Amendment' Pastor For South Carolina Church Shooting

Yesterday, Gun Owners of America’s communications director, Erich Pratt, reacted to the shooting in a church in South Carolina by blaming the church’s pastor, one of the victims of the shooting, for voting against a concealed carry bill in his role as a state senator.

In an interview today with Houston-based talk radio host Sam Malone, GOA’s executive director Larry Pratt (Erich’s father) doubled down on the accusation, claiming that the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, had left his congregation “defenseless” by opposing a bill that would have required churches to allow the concealed carry of firearms.

“The president and those that look at the world the way he does seem to be unshakably wedded to the idea that no defense is a good defense,” Pratt said, referring to President Obama’s remarks on the shooting. “And there you had a church where this horrible act was committed, where the pastor was a state senator who was a leading anti-Second-Amendment, pro-civilian-disarmament sort of guy. So when the dirtbag struck, he was pretty confident there wasn’t going to be anybody shooting back because they all believed that no defense is a good defense, that’s what they’d been preached about. It’s just, it was so needless. There was nobody who was able to resist.”

“It was a gun-free zone, thanks in part to the pastor, the state senator,” he said, blasting the pastor who supported keeping a policy that allows churches to choose whether or not to allowed concealed carry, or, as Pratt called it, “that stupid provision that if the church wants to be defenseless, that’s fine.”

H/T reader Erik

Gun Owners Of America Blames Slain Charleston Pastor For Voting Against Concealed Carry

Gun Owners of America, unsurprisingly, is reacting the shooting at an African American church in Charleston this week by urging people to carry guns to church. Not only that, but GOA’s communications director Erich Pratt implies in a post on the group’s website that the church’s slain pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was partly to blame for the massacre because he had voted against a bill in the state senate that would have allowed the concealed carry of guns in churches.

A National Rifle Association board member made a similar comment yesterday.

Pratt starts off his GOA post with this image:

He goes on to attack Pinckney for being an “anti-gun activist” who opposed concealed carry in churches.

“One of the biggest problems at South Carolina church is that the potential victims were disarmed by law,” he writes. “In the Palmetto State, a concealed carry permit holder can carry in places of worship with permission from a church official. Unfortunately, the pastor was an anti-gun activist. As a state senator, the Pastor had voted against concealed carry.”

GOA is also circulating a Facebook share image urging people to carry guns to church in order to protect against attack:

UPDATE: GOA's executive director, Larry Pratt (Erich's father), doubled down on this argument in an interview with Sam Malone:

 

Mike Huckabee: Charleston Shooting Could've Been Prevented If Church Members Were Armed

Mike Huckabee spoke today to Todd Starnes of Fox News, who was agitated that the “despicable” President Obama “wants to go after the guns” following the shooting at an African American church in Charleston. Huckabee agreed, claiming he was “disappointed” that the president considered the shooting “a great opportunity for me to grandstand and jump up on the stump and talk about gun control.”

The GOP presidential candidate said that the only thing that could have stopped the shooting would have been an armed member of the church. Channeling the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Huckabee said: “It sounds crass, but frankly the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one that he’s using.”

Starnes ended the brief interview by castigating Obama for “playing politics” and “scoring cheap political points on the graves of the innocent” when he should’ve remained silent.

Rick Perry: Charleston Shooting An 'Accident' Due To Drug Use, Manipulated By Obama To Ban Guns

In an interview today with Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the mass shooting at an African American church in Charleston earlier this week as an “accident” that was possibly caused by the over-prescription of medication.

(Update: A Perry campaign aide now says that the former governor misspoke in the interview when he used the word “accident.”)

Perry and Malzberg kicked off the discussion of the shooting by attacking President Obama for mentioning the failure to pass gun reform. Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”

“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.

Instead of talking about guns, Perry said, we should be talking about prescription drugs: “Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

He said that such drugs are responsible for high suicide and joblessness rates, adding that “there are a lot of issues underlying this that I think we as a country need to have a conversion about rather than just the knee-jerk reaction of saying, ‘If we can just take all the guns away, this won’t happen.’”

He added that while the shooting was “a crime of hate,” he didn’t know if it should be called a terrorist attack.

Sandy Rios: Obama 'Enjoyed' Charleston Shooting

Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, attacked President Obama today for his response to the Charleston shooting, which she said is proof that he “enjoys” such incidents because it will give him another chance to “remove guns from the hands of the American people.”

Unlike the family members of the victims who offered messages of forgiveness, Rios said, “there are other people who seem to respond and fester and enjoy these problems and make the most of them, and I would include president of the United States, this of course he took as an opportunity to lay out his passion against allowing American people to carry guns.”

She accused Obama of “rushing” to link the shooting to weak gun laws, adding that “all the tragedies remind him that he wants to stop American people from having guns.”

Mike Huckabee: Gay Marriage Ruling Will 'Criminalize Christianity,' Threaten The Republic

Yesterday, Mike Huckabee sent a letter to Religious Right leaders [PDF] warning that a ruling in favor of marriage equality from the Supreme Court would be just as “backwards” and “broken” as rulings which “rationalized the destruction of human life, defined African Americans as property and justified Japanese-American internment camps.”

“I refuse to sit silently as politically driven interest groups threaten the foundation of religious liberty, criminalize Christianity, and demand that Americans abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage,” Huckabee continued. “I will fight to defend religious liberty at all costs.”

The GOP presidential candidate and former governor added that he will never worship the “false god” of the judiciary: “I also refuse to surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it, which upends the separation of powers so very central to our Constitution. Too much power concentrated in the courts is a threat to our Republic. I will fight judicial tyranny and return power to the people.”

Dear conservative leaders and pro-family activists,

I share your concerns regarding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. As you mentioned, any decision that redefines the institution of marriage, which has existed for thousands and thousands of years, would overturn the will of American citizens in more than 30 states who have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Under the U.S. Constitution, we have three, co-equal branches of government. The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Branch, and it is certainly not the Supreme Being. Throughout our nation’s history, the court has delivered backwards, broken rulings. These nine, unelected Supreme Court justices have rationalized the destruction of human life, defined African Americans as property and justified Japanese-American internment camps.

The notion that the Supreme Court is an exclusive entity empowered to interpret the Constitution is a modern myth, which has flourished since the 1960s. I reject this idea as just another flawed, failed feature of big government, inconsistent with what our founders fought a revolution to establish.

As both an American and a candidate for president, I will never forget who I serve: my God, my country, and the U.S. Constitution.

I refuse to sit silently as politically driven interest groups threaten the foundation of religious liberty, criminalize Christianity, and demand that Americans abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage. I will fight to defend religious liberty at all costs.

I also refuse to surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it, which upends the separation of powers so very central to our Constitution. Too much power concentrated in the courts is a threat to our Republic. I will fight judicial tyranny and return power to the people.

I call on all GOP candidates to join me in this fight to defend the Constitution. If you lack the backbone to reject judicial tyranny and fight for religious liberty, you have no business serving our nation as President of the United States.

Respectfully,

Governor Mike Huckabee

cc: Cathy Adams - President, Eagle Forum

Kerby Anderson - Host, Point of View radio talk show

Tad Armstrong - President, ELL Constitution Clubs

Ted Baehr - Publisher, www.movieguide.org

Brenda Baller

David Barton - President, WallBuilders

Gary Bauer - President, American Values

Jeffrey K. Beene - Colonel, USAF (retired)

Hon. J. Kenneth Blackwell - Visiting Professor, Liberty School of Law

Floyd Brown - President Western Center for Journalism

Brian Burch - President, CatholicVote.org

Phil Burress - President, Citizens for Community Values Action

Joe R. Calvert - President, Rabon Calvert Interests, Inc.

Larry Cirignano - American Catholic Citizens

Clint Cline - President, Design4

Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews - Executive Director Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty

Hon. Ken Cuccinelli - President, Senate Conservatives Fund

Bill Dallas - CEO, United in Purpose

Steve Deace - USA Radio Network & Conservative Review

Tom DeLay - Former Congressman

Penna Dexter - Co-Host, Point of View Radio Show

James C. Dobson, Ph.D. - Founder and President, Family Talk

Tim Von Dohlen - President, St. John Paul II Life Center

Ken and Roberta Eldred - Living Stones Foundation

Bob Ellis - CEO, Dakota Voice LLC

Tricia Erickson - President, Angel Pictures & Publicity Publisher

William A. Estrada - Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

Carol Everett - Chief Executive Officer, The Heidi Group

Kristin Fecteau - Co-Founder, Campaign to Free America

William J. Federer

Robert K. Fischer - Meeting Coordinator, Conservatives of Faith

Mark Fitzgibbons - President of Corporate Affairs, American Target Advertising, Inc.

Richard Ford - President, Heritage Alliance

Kevin Freeman

Dr. Jim Garlow - Pastor, Skyline Church

Gina Gleason - Executive Director, Faith and Public Policy

Thomas A. Glessner - President, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates

Kristan Hawkins - President, Students for Life of America

Kirk Hays

Donna Hearne - Constitutional Coalition

Dr. Carl Herbster - AdvanceUSA

Chuck Hurley, J.D. - Vice-president and Chief Counsel, The Family Leader

Harry R. Jackson Jr. - Hope Christian Church and The High Impact Leadership Coalition

Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D. - President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

Finn Laursen - Executive Director, Christian Educators Association International

Dr. Richard Lee - There's Hope America

Dr. Richard Land - Southern Evangelical Seminary

Tim LeFever - Chairman, Capitol Resource Institute

Loren Leman - Former Legislator and Lieutenant Governor, Alaska

Matt Mackowiak - Fight For Tomorrow

Joseph Mattera

Bradley Mattes - President, Life Issues Institute

Kevin McGary - Chairman and President, Frederick Douglass Foundation of Ca.

Joe Miller - President, Restoring Liberty

Tom Minnery - President & CEO, Citizenlink

Len Munsil, J.D. - President, Arizona Christian University

William J. Murray - Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition

Penny Nance - President and CEO, Concerned Women for America

Rev. Dean Nelson - Chairman, Frederick Douglass Foundation

Troy Newman - President, Operation Rescue and ProLife Nation

C. Preston Noell, III - President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Paige Patterson, PhD - President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bob Pearle - Birchman Baptist Church

Tony Perkins - President, Family Research Council President, Council for National Policy

Judson Phillips - Tea Party Nation

Everett Piper - President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Bob Vander Plaats - President/CEO, The FAMiLY LEADER

Janet (Folger) Porter - Producer and Documentarian

Dr. Robert (Bob) Reccord - Former Executive Director, Council for National Policy

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D., MBA - President, The Children First Foundation

Richard Rios - Christian Coalition, California Chairman

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt - Congregation Ohr Ha Torah, Dallas, TX

Austin Ruse - President, Center for Family & Human Rights

Nancy Schulze - Founder, Republican Congressional Wives Speakers

Mat Staver - Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel

Steve Strang - CEO/Founder, Charisma Media

Frank & Sarah Teed - Arkansas Eye Surgery

Eric Teetsel - Executive Director, Manhattan Declaration

Mark Tooley - President, Institute on Religion and Democracy

Patrick A. Trueman - Attorney at Law, Washington, DC

Richard A Viguerie - Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com

Eric M. Wallace, PhD - President & Co-founder, Freedom's Journal Institute

Jennifer L. Wallace - Co-founder, Freedom's Journal Institute

C. Richard Wells - President, John Witherspoon College Rapid City, South Dakota

C. Frederick Wehba - Founder, Bentley Forbes

Dr. Donald E. Wildmon - Founder and Chairman Emeritus, American Family Association

Tim Wildmon - President, American Family Association

Walt Wilson - Founder & Chairman, Global Media Outreach

FRC Official: Gay Rights & Pro-Choice Activists 'Caught In The Snare Of Satan'

At this week’s “Future Conference” at Jim Garlow’s church in San Diego, the Family Research Council’s Kenyn Cureton hosted a session on how to set up church “cultural impact teams” aimed at getting churches involved in political battles. But Cureton reminded his audience that as much as they get involved in politics, fights over issues like reproductive rights and LGBT equality are ultimately “a spiritual battle” against Satan, and their adversaries are not “the people who are pushing these ungodly agendas” but the “malevolent master” who controls them:

The battle is a spiritual battle and it’s won or lost on our knees, folks, I’m telling you. When you think about what we’re up against, I mean, who’s behind it? The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, right? Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion? Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.

So, always remember that those people who are pushing these ungodly agendas, they’re not the real enemy. We need to have compassion on them and love them and try to win them to Jesus and bring them to the foot of the cross so they can be set free by the grace of God, amen, because they are simply pawns in the hand of a malevolent master, they’re caught in the snare of Satan and they need to be set free, right? So we need to be on our knees about this thing, because if we just fight this in the flesh, we ain’t gonna win.

This, he said, means that in addition to working to change public policy, churches should maintain teams of “intercessors” to pray for God’s involvement in their political battles.

FRC’s president, Tony Perkins, has similarly called LGBT rights advocates “pawns” of the Devil, despite claiming that his group would never demonize gay people .

EW Jackson: Charleston Shooting Result Of Anti-Christian Climate Created By Gays, Obama

Anti-gay pastor and Fox News contributor E.W. Jackson said yesterday that people shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” that the Charleston shooting was “some sort of racial hate crime.”

Instead, Jackson told radio host John Fredericks that the shooting may have been a result of the “growing hostility and antipathy to Christianity and what this stands for, the biblical worldview about sexual morality and other things.”

Just in case it wasn’t clear what Jackson was talking about, he went on to claim that gay people, President Obama and liberals in academia are the ones destroying these traditional values.

In an appearance on “Fox & Friends” yesterday, Jackson similarly downplayed the racial aspect of the massacre, despite the fact that witnesses and people close to the suspect have all said that the shooter was motivated by racial hate.

Jackson, a Virginia GOP politician, also went on a Twitter tirade claiming that “intolerant” liberals are “filled with hatred like [Dylann] Roof”:

Former Religious Freedom Ambassador Debunks Right-Wing Myth That Obama Ignores Christian Persecution

A large portion of Jim Garlow’s “Future Conference” in San Diego this week was devoted to the plight of Christians in parts of the Middle East, including those imprisoned and even executed by ISIS and oppressive governments.

The speakers largely refrained from making strained false equivalencies between Christians persecuted by ISIS and American Christians “persecuted” by having to provide public services to gay people. (The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has made a cottage industry out of this kind of rhetoric, was scheduled to speak but had to drop out because of illness.) To Garlow’s credit, he also invited Suzan Johnson Cook, the former Obama-appointed U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, to discuss the work that she did in that office.

But Cook was forced to confront some of the entrenched right-wing talking points about the Obama administration and religious freedom when, in a Q&A after her speech, conservative pundit Gina Loudon asked her why “we hear so little” from the administration about efforts to help victims of religious persecution. Loudon’s question echoed the claims of many Religious Right activist who claim that the president has done little to free imprisoned Christians, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.

Cook told Loudon that how much the administration says publicly about these cases does not always reflect the amount of work that they are doing “delicately and discreetly” behind the scenes. While such cases are “a priority,” she said, “many times you can’t tell the story of who’s being persecuted outwardly, because many times their very lives were at stake”:

I think that, you know, government operates in its own way. We’re one agency within a myriad of agencies. I think we have to keep the pressure on. The State Department was very much on it. And, as I said, we have interagency efforts where we certainly worked with the White House. I mean, I can’t defend why it wasn’t talked about more, but what I can say, it was a priority.

… Many times you can’t tell the story of who’s being persecuted outwardly, because many times their very lives were at stake. So there was a family, for example, in Iraq that we were helping get out. Had we made it public, that family would have been killed before they got out. So you have to use discretion and you have to move discreetly, and many times, even though it seems to the public like we’re being quiet, you must know that my days were 16-20 hour days and there was a lot of work to be done … [Y]ou really have to move delicately and discreetly, otherwise some people can not only be persecuted, but they really can be killed. And ultimately what you really want is for the person to be free.

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