Family Research Council

Ted Cruz Claims Citizens United Repeal Would 'Muzzle' Pastors

When Sen. Ted Cruz told the conservative pastors gathered at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference yesterday that “the Senate Democrats are going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the First Amendment,” he was met with an audible gasp. He earned more gasps when he warned that this amendment would suppress the political speech rights of the “citizenry” and “muzzle” pastors in their pulpits.

We were surprised too. That would be news!

But then it became clear what he was talking about: Senate leadership is planning to hold a vote on a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and rulings in related campaign finance cases such as this year’s McCutcheon case, which have steadily eliminated the limits on election spending by corporations and wealthy individuals.

The amendment, written by Sen. Tom Udall, would give the federal government and states the “power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents” in elections, as it was allowed to do before the Supreme Court started dismantling campaign finance regulations.

In other words, the amendment would allow Congress and state governments to set limits on the amount that corporations and wealthy individuals can spend to support and oppose candidates. So, unless a pastor also runs a super PAC, it would not affect his life all that much, much less “muzzle” him. But Cruz, employing the Religious Right’s persecution rhetoric, claims that “41 Democrats have signed on to repealing the First Amendment” because “they don’t like it when the citizenry in their community has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done” and “they don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth.”

Tony Perkins Says Marriage Equality Will Lead To The 'Dissolution Of The Republic'

Tony Perkins, who has previously claimed that marriage equality will lead to a “revolution” and “break this nation apart,” told Janet Mefferd yesterday that he believes advances in gay rights are bringing about the “dissolution of the republic.”

The Family Research Council president told Mefferd that the marriage debate is “is literally about the entire culture: it’s about the rule of law, it’s about the country, it’s about our future, it’s about redefining the curriculum in our schools, it’s about driving a wedge between parent and child, it’s about the loss of religious freedom, it’s about the inability to be who we are as a people.”

Perkins said gay rights advocates are “sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic.”

“Once we lose the rule of law, we’ve lost what holds us together and I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point,” he said.

Army Reprimands Ex-General Turned Religious Right Leader Jerry Boykin

Back in 2003, President Bush repeatedly rebuked then-General Jerry Boykin for giving public speeches framing the war on terror as a holy war between Christianity and Islam, speeches that also violated military rules.

Boykin then retired from the military and has since become a full-fledged Religious Right activist who campaigns against the rights of Muslim-Americans and gay people in his role as executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

The Washington Post reports today that last year the Army issued “a scathing reprimand following a criminal investigation that concluded [Boykin] had wrongfully released classified information" in a book he published in 2008.

The reprimand [PDF], released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, says that Boykin “violated [the] Uniform Code of Military Justice” for his “wrongful disclosure of classified information” and “conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces.”

The Department of the Army found that Boykin’s book, “Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom,” had “disclosed classified information” and failed to undergo a “classification review before the book’s publication.” The reprimand goes on to cite Boykin’s “gross lack of judgment” and “unprofessional behavior.”

Boykin, however, insists that the reprimand was driven by politics:

Asked why he was reprimanded, Boykin questioned the Army’s motivation, insisting that he had received approval to write his book before it was released and that all information in it had been disclosed previously in other books, movies and news reports.

“You draw your own conclusions,” Boykin told The Post. “Why would they reopen it? What was the purpose of reprimanding me basically five years after they started an investigation? Did it take that long to determine whether I had written anything classified?”



Boykin told The Post that if he “realized there would be this many accusations hurled against me,” he probably would have submitted “Never Surrender” for a Pentagon review before it was published. He didn’t fight the reprimand because he was retired and did not see a point to doing so, he said.

“Any reprimand has to be taken seriously, so I don’t want to come across as flippant about it,” he said. “But at this stage in my life, it really hasn’t had any impact on my life like it would have if it had happened when I was on active duty.”

In Response To Uganda Documentary, IHOP Says It's 'Not Involved' in Politics

“God Loves Uganda,” a documentary about American evangelical involvement in inflaming anti-gay sentiment in that country, made its debut at last year’s Sundance Festival and reached a broader audience through this week’s broadcast on public television. The attention from this week’s broadcast has provoked a response from the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Filmmaker Ross Williams was given extensive access to IHOP leaders, including evangelist Lou Engle, who believes Uganda has a special prophetic destiny.  The documentary includes footage of Engle at a rally with supporters of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act, where he tells the crowd he was “called” to encourage the Ugandan church for standing up for “righteousness” in the face of international pressure to drop the bill.  IHOP now says it has never supported the anti-gay law.

Charisma Magazine’s Jennifer LeClaire writes that IHOP and Lou Engle are being “falsely accused of ‘demonizing’ homosexuals in Uganda.” IHOP’s response says that while it believes all sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful, “We honor the dignity and rights of all whose opinion differs from ours” and that IHOP is “open to civil dialogue and mutual respect.” The filmmakers, says IHOP, “pursued a deceptive means to achieve a hateful, polarizing result.”

In fact, Engle is a remarkably polarizing figure who has frequently describes those who disagree with him on abortion and marriage as being in league with Satan in a confrontation between good an evil. “God Loves Uganda” includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam.” In 2011, he organized an event in Detroit that was pitched to local pastors as a unity event for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s economy when its actual purpose was to “invade Dearborn” and convert followers of “demonic” Islam to Christianity.

Perhaps the most laughable statement in IHOP’s response is this:

Our primary mandate as an organization is prayer and humanitarian action; it is not political. We are not involved in U.S. politics, let alone politics in another nation.

Not involved in US politics? Where do we begin?

Lou Engle, an IHOP co-founder, is a dominionist who believes the church’s role is to “rule history with God.”

"The church’s vocation is to rule history with God...The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high....We’re God’s rulers upon the earth...We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit...We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!"

Engle has been intensely involved in US politics, hosting “The Call” prayer rallies in election years to denounce legal abortion and politicians that support it. He worked hard to mobilize support for anti-gay Proposition 8 in California.

In 2008 he passionately opposed the election of Barack Obama and declared that by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain had “gone to war for America, for our families, and for our children. And this war, we cannot afford to lose.”

In 2009, Engle introduced Rep. Michele Bachmann and asked her to lead a prayer at an anti-health-care-reform “prayercast” organized by the Family Research Council.

More recently IHOP and its leader Mike Bickel were at the center of organizing dominionist leaders to put on “The Awakening,” a 2011 prayer rally that served as the launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign. Bickel served as the event’s MC. The head of IHOP’s Tallahassee branch, Pam Oslen, was on the Perry campaign’s Florida leadership team.

Tony Perkins Falsely Claims Obama Was Too Busy Pushing Gay Rights 'To Acknowledge Armed Forces Day'

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins thinks he has caught President Obama in a mini-scandal, claiming in his daily email to members Monday that Obama “couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge Armed Forces Day” because he was too busy finding “time to lecture Americans on an agenda tearing apart the very military he ignored.

He was referring to the president’s acknowledgment of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, two terms Perkins put in quotation marks.

Everyone else's eyes are wide open, thanks to the avalanche of attacks thundering down on anyone with a natural view on marriage -- from network television and bank brokers to Internet companies and city councils. Even the President of the United States, who only recently hopped aboard the same-sex "marriage" express, is piling on with outlandish public statements against a sentiment he used to share. On the 10th anniversary of Massachusetts's court-imposed same-sex "marriage," the White House marked the day by railing against "homophobia" and "transphobia." The same President who couldn't be bothered to acknowledge Armed Forces Day found more than enough time to lecture Americans on an agenda tearing apart the very military he ignored. And if these polls are any indication, his heavy-handed approach is already backfiring -- a fact the GOP would be wise to capitalize on.

Perkins, unsurprisingly, was wrong.

As Adam Weinstein notes, it only takes a few seconds of Googling to find Obama’s proclamation recognizing Armed Forces Day.

Presidential Proclamation -- Armed Forces Day, 2014

ARMED FORCES DAY, 2014

- - - - - - -

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION

In every generation, there are men and women who stand apart. They put on the uniform and put their lives on the line so the rest of us might live in a safer, freer, more just world. They defend us in times of peace, times of war, and times of crisis, both natural and man-made. On Armed Forces Day, we honor the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who render the highest service any American can offer.

The patriots who stand sentry for our security are a proud link in an unbroken chain that stretches through the centuries. This generation has distinguished itself on mission after mission, tour after tour. Because of their heroism, the core of al-Qaeda is severely degraded and our homeland is more secure. Thanks to their extraordinary sacrifice, we are winding down more than a decade of war and strengthening alliances that extend our values. These are the gifts they have given us, and this is why we owe them a profound debt of gratitude.

It is our obligation to ensure our troops have all they need to complete their missions abroad, but we must also support them when they return home. We must care for the families who serve alongside them and fulfill our promises today, tomorrow, and forever. And we must demonstrate our thanks by building a Nation worthy of their sacrifices, a Nation that lives up to our founding ideals and allows every citizen to write their chapter of the American story.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, continuing the precedent of my predecessors in office, do hereby proclaim the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day.

I direct the Secretary of Defense on behalf of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and the Secretary of Homeland Security on behalf of the Coast Guard, to plan for appropriate observances each year, with the Secretary of Defense responsible for encouraging the participation and cooperation of civil authorities and private citizens.

I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to provide for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their jurisdiction each year in an appropriate manner designed to increase public understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces of the United States. I also invite veterans, civic leaders, and organizations to join in the observance of Armed Forces Day.

Finally, I call upon all Americans to display the flag of the United States at their homes on Armed Forces Day, and I urge citizens to learn more about military service by attending and participating in the local observances of the day. I also encourage Americans to volunteer at organizations that provide support to our troops and their families.

Proclamation 8984 of May 17, 2013, is hereby superseded.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/16/14

  • Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in Michigan’s marriage equality case, insisting that “it would be rational for the voters of Michigan to seek to minimize the deleterious effects” of “homosexual activity.”
  • The editor of Matt Barber’s website shows his “overwhelming love” for gay people by explaining that homosexuality “is destroying your life.”

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love And Liberty Mean To The Religious Right

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love and Liberty Mean To the Religious Right

Todd Starnes Says LGBT Activists Will Demand Christians Be Deported; Religious Right Got There First

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes joins the parade of right-wing outrage about the Home & Garden Television Network pulling the plug on a show featuring David and Jason Benham after Right Wing Watch reported on David’s anti-gay activism.  Starnes posted a story about HGTV’s decision, then promoted it with a tweet that said,

Hmm, you mean the way Family Research Council spokesman Peter Sprigg said in 2008 that he would like to export homosexuals from the U.S. because homosexuality is destructive to society?  Sprigg apologized for using language that “did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God.” But since then he has said that gay sex should be criminalized.

Tony Perkins Warns Condom Use 'Leads To Tyranny'

Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins responded to the news that the Department of Education will investigate 55 colleges and universities for “mishandling sexual assault claims” by claiming that contraception distribution “leads to tyranny.”

Speaking on his “Washington Watch” program, Perkins lamented “the sexualization that is taking place in our culture in general but on college campuses.”

“Contraception is made available as if it were candy which sends a message, well it’s there, it must be there for a reason, and then we’re surprised when — this is not justification, it’s wrong, we are all responsible for our actions — but we’re surprised when people act on these outside factors that they are surrounded by,” Perkins said. “It leads to tyranny.”

Perkins told a caller that people are trying to “jettison the moral law and live by an arbitrary standard that is put in place by government.”

After Complaining Women's Museum Will 'Indoctrinate' Visitors Into Feminism, CWA's Nance Demands To Chair Museum's Board

The House voted 383-33 last night to move forward with a plan to build a National Women’s History Museum on the Mall, despite an effort by Religious Right groups to prevent the museum from going forward.

Now, we learn that Concerned Women for America's Penny Nance, the activist leading the fight against the museum, was offered a spot on its planning board but refused to participate unless an anti-feminist activist like herself was allowed to head the planning effort.

The Daily Caller reports that in an effort to shore up support for a bill authorizing a planning study for the museum, the museum’s chief Republican supporter, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, offered Nance a spot on the museum’s board. Nance refused, saying that she would only accept an offer to lead the museum as the board’s chair or to pick another right-wing activist for the job.

“Regardless of that effort some critics of this legislation have, incorrectly, said that the bill would create a museum that would portray women as monolithic in their views on abortion as well as other issues of concern to women,” said Blackburn, adding that she asked Nance to serve as a member of the commission.

Nance said that the offer — sent by Blackburn’s chief of staff on Tuesday night — is “an exercise in futility and frustration without the chairman being someone who at least is impartial on our views.”

“One seat would not change anything,” said Nance, adding “I am happy to either serve or find someone else to serve as chairman.”

Religious Right groups came out against the plan because, they said, it would place too much emphases on women who had fought for women’s rights. CWA complained that the museum would “indoctrinate” visitors into “a jaundiced view of women’s history” because the museum’s website mentioned pioneering abortion rights advocates but didn’t mention CWA’s founder Beverly LaHaye or fringe right-wing activist Star Parker.

Eagle Forum urged its members to oppose the creation of the museum, saying, “Long sought by feminists, this project would enshrine their warped view of American history on the National Mall” and added that the museum wasn’t needed anyway: “Women's history is American history, and there is already a National Museum of American History on the Mall.”

The Family Research Council warned that the museum would become “a permanent monument to radical feminism and abortion.”

Writing for RedState, David Horowitz called the museum proposal an “interesting endeavor,” but warned that it would “promote leftwing propaganda”:

One of the biggest obstacles to restoring our constitutional Republic is the inherent advantage the progressives enjoy inside of our culture. Their monopoly on media, entertainment, and education has given radicals the opportunity to slowly, yet relentlessly, introduce extreme ideas into the mainstream with a high degree of success. The least we can do as conservatives is not use our majority to gratuitously grant the feminist movement more leverage to promote leftwing propaganda in our nation’s capitol under the guise of celebrating famous women.

In the end, yesterday, activists were only able to persuade 33 Republican House members to vote against a bill that “authorizes a study to find a location for the museum and establish its mission.” Only two of the eighteen Republican women in the House voted against the bill – Rep. Michele Bachmann, who said it would “enshrine the radical feminist movement” and Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

But despite her attempted concession to Nance, Blackburn told National Journal that she could not figure out what all the fuss was about: "Look, I'm a pretty conservative person. I can't even follow that train of thought. It's too convoluted for me."

Tony Perkins, Arbiter Of Christianity, Says Pro-Gay Christians Don't Have Same Religious Rights As Conservatives

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins implied today that Christians who support gay rights don’t have the same religious rights as conservative Christians because “true religious freedom” only applies to “orthodox religious viewpoints.”

Last month, a group of North Carolina ministers and same-sex couples, along with the United Church of Christ denomination, filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The clergy argue that because of a law that makes it a misdemeanor for a member of the clergy to perform a marriage ceremony without a state license, the same-sex marriage ban violates the religious rights of clergy who wish to perform such ceremonies.

When a caller on Monday’s edition of “Washington Watch” asked Perkins about his views on the case, Perkins replied that the ministers don’t have the same religious rights as others because they aren’t real Christians and therefore aren’t protected by the “true religious freedoms” given to Christians.

As we know, only Tony Perkins gets to decide who is and isn’t a Christian and has religious rights under the law.

Caller: I wanted to see if I can get your response to the members of the clergy in Charlotte that are suing for the right to perform gay marriages, saying that the ban on gay marriage infringes on their religious rights. It’s my understanding that they are a Christian organization, it’s normally the other way around, and so I’m curious to hear what you got to say about it.

Perkins: I would use that term ‘Christian’ loosely. That title is — let’s talk biblical, here’s the deal, it’s like with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that we worked on in Mississippi and failed in Arizona and other places, here’s a test of what is a true religious freedom, a freedom that’s based on orthodox religious viewpoints. It has to have a track record, it has to come forth from religious orthodoxy.

You cannot point to the Christian faith and say that same-sex marriage has been a key teaching of the church. You can only point to the opposite, that the church has stood against sexual immorality in terms of sexual relations of those outside of marriage and in particular homosexual behavior. There is no place, there is nothing for them to stand on and say that same-sex marriage has standing in the orthodox Christian faith.

They’re playing games here, trying to turn the effort that so many Americans are now faced with of preserving religious freedom, they’re now trying to do a jujitsu move and say, ‘We’re going to use religious freedom to say we have a right to do same-sex marriage.’ Well, there is no foundation for that, there is no orthodox Christian holding that has ever said marriage is between people of the same sex.

Anti-Gay Groups Take Out Two Pro-Equality Indiana GOP State Reps

Two incumbent Republican state representatives in Indiana lost primary elections after national anti-gay groups targeted them for their votes against a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Kathy Heuer and Rebecca Kubacki were among eleven Republicans who voted against the marriage amendment in January. The amendment will next have to be placed on the statewide ballot, which won't happen until 2016 at the earliest .

According to the National Organization for Marriage, NOM, the American Family Association of Indiana, Focus on the Family’s political arm Citizenlink, the Family Research Council and the FRC’s Indiana affiliate the Indiana Family Institute were all involved in the effort to unseat the pro-marriage lawmakers. NOM writes:

NOM, the Indiana Family Institute, the American Family Association of Indiana, Citizenlink, and Family Research Council Action had warned politicians before the marriage amendment vote in the legislature that if they did not give the people the chance to vote on marriage this year, there would be political repercussions. After the failure of the legislature to pass the question to the voters, the coalition worked together to choose its targets, particularly the ousting of Heuer and Kubacki while protecting marriage champions. 

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Family Institute’s political arm "ran $12,000 worth of radio ads in the Fort Wayne area targeting Heuer, Kubacki, and a third incumbent, Casey Cox of Fort Wayne,” who won his primary contest. The FRC-affiliated group also reportedly sent out 10,000 mailers in support of the marriage amendment’s sponsor in his successful effort to fend off a primary challenger.

In February, NOM and Citizenlink started airing radio ads against at least one Republican state lawmaker who ultimately voted for the marriage amendment, but supported a change that would remove a ban on civil unions from the measure, thus pushing back the schedule for getting the ban on the ballot. The groups accused proponents of the change of bringing “San Francisco-style marriage” to Indiana.

In a statement, FRC president Tony Perkins touted his organization’s recent poll on how Republican voters view marriage equality and claimed that “elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.”

"The election outcome reinforces the findings of an FRC-commissioned survey released last month showing three-quarters of Republican voters want their elected officials to uphold natural marriage as the national standard. Voters in Indiana and across the country are now realizing that much more than marriage is on the line. Elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.

"Redefining natural marriage is about far more than the marriage altar; it is about fundamentally altering society. In the wake of same-sex marriage, religious freedom and parental rights have been lost. Business owners, like florists, bakers and photographers, have been hauled into court, fined and even put out of business for simply refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding. But it doesn't stop there; university professors, sportscasters and even members of the military have been demoted or fired for simply believing marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Families have been impacted as parents have lost the right to determine whose values are taught to their children," concluded Perkins.

Religious Right Sees Opportunity In Supreme Court Prayer Ruling

Religious Right groups are celebrating yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding sectarian prayer at official public meetings – like city council sessions – and narrowly defining what would amount to unconstitutional religious coercion of people attending. The case is Town of Greece v. Galloway.

Though divided on their reasoning, the Court’s five conservative Justices upheld a practice in which, month after month, year after year, town leaders reached out to Christians and Christians only to offer opening prayers at town meetings, prayers that were often quite sectarian in nature.  The very few exceptions were in response to this lawsuit.  Although town leaders said that members of other religions could lead the opening prayer if they asked to, they had hardly let that be widely known, and they continued to reach out only to Christians.

SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston characterized the Court’s ruling as “[s]topping just short of abandoning a historic barrier to religion in government activity.” Conservative and religious groups hostile to church-state separation are gushing over the ruling and hope it is a sign of more to come.

The Becket Fund signaled that it hopes yesterday’s decision will just be the first step in further dismantling rulings upholding church-state separation.  From Deputy General Counsel Eric Rassbach:

“The Court’s landmark decision today echoes the wisdom of the Founders. Not only did the Court uphold the centuries-old practice of legislative prayer, it also started the work of bringing the entire law of church and state onto a firmer foundation in the words of the Constitution.”

David Corman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Town of Greece:

“Opening public meetings with prayer is a cherished freedom that the authors of the Constitution themselves practiced,” he said. “Speech censors should have no power to silence volunteers who pray for their communities just as the Founders did.”

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer celebrated the ruling as a “monster win” and said it was proof that “we are fighting a winnable war,” because the “Supreme Court has ruled that you can have sectarian prayers, prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, to open any legislative session, any lawmaking body – a county commission can do it, a city council can do it, a state government can do it.”  

Fischer he went on at great length endorsing Justice Clarence Thomas’s position that the First Amendment does not limit states’ constitutional right to, for example, declare the Southern Baptist Church to be the official state church and force people to support the church with taxes.  Fischer, in fact, called Thomas “a stud on the issue of religious liberty.” (Fischer says he wouldn’t personally support coercive state establishment, but he supports Thomas’s constitutional analysis, and says it should be applied to interpret that the federal government has no right to tell public schools whether and how prayer is permitted.)  Fischer is delighted that the Supreme Court’s majority decision discussed the fact that the Continental Congress opened with “emphatically Christian” prayer.

Gordon Klingenschmitt:

Hallelujah!  Today YOU helped score a VICTORY at the U.S. Supreme Court, reaching the pinnacle of seven years of work and prayer with The Pray In Jesus Name Project.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that it's OK for pastors to pray "in Jesus' name" at city council meetings. 

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins:

"The court today has upheld our first and most fundamental freedom. The court has rejected the idea that as citizens we must check our faith at the entrance to the public square. We applaud the majority on the court for getting that right. This is an historic victory for all Americans of faith and for the common-sense reading of the Constitution itself. The Court's affirmation of the right of Americans to practice their faith in public life and the public square is a major win for the religious liberty we have always cherished.”

Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition called it a victory that would empower Religious Right activists to push elected officials to bring sectarian prayer into more official settings:

Reed also announced that, armed with today’s Supreme Court decision, Faith & Freedom Coalition would redouble its efforts to encourage opportunities for prayers offered at meetings by town boards, city councils, and county commissions nationwide.  The organization has in the past mobilized public support for local officials who have allowed such prayers at government meetings.

“Speech honoring God and invoking His blessing on our land should be welcomed, not treated with hostility,” said Reed.  “With today’s decision, the government officials that faith-based voters help to elect can provide a forum for such expressions without fear of being reversed by future courts.”

Concerned Women for America celebrated, saying the decision “lifts up the best in our country.” CWA President Penny Nance managed to slam what she said has been “a push to establish atheism as the official religion of our land” and claim that the Supreme Court’s ruling was a win for everyone, “even the staunchest atheists.”

Those who object to these practices do not seek to exercise their religious liberty; they merely feel hostile towards other people’s religious practices and seek to silence them. They seek to silence those with whom they disagree….

The Founders of this great nation benefited and relied heavily on prayer to seek the guidance they needed to establish the foundations of our nation. When the first Congress met on September 7, 1774, it began with an amazing prayer “in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.” No religious oppression or favoritism followed from that practice, only the blessings of freedom and liberty, including the freedom of religious thought, belief, or even non-belief.

Everyone wins, including the staunchest atheists, when we allow the free exercise of religion or non-religion according to a person’s conscience.

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes, who specializes in promoting fictitious threats to religious freedom, declared that “the Obama administration has been waging a war against people of the Christian faith,” somehow neglecting to mention that the Obama administration had actually weighed in on the side of the Town of Greece and its overwhelmingly Christian prayers.  Starnes said it is “always a good day when the anti-Christian folks get smacked down by the Supreme Court” but said the fact that it was a 5-4 decision should be a “wake-up call” for Americans that elections matter.

Gary Bauer made the same point:

Here's the good news: The Supreme Court today upheld public prayers, even Christian prayers, at government meetings in 5-to-4 decision.

But that is the bad news too! The free exercise of religion depends on just one vote….

Now a win is a win. But don't miss the fact that this victory for religious liberty was won by the narrowest of margins. One more liberal appointment and the Supreme Court could easily ban prayers before town council meetings and legislative sessions. If that were to happen, our Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto would surely be next.

Your vote at the ballot box has a direct impact on our federal courts. Federal judges, including those on the Supreme Court, are appointed (by the president) and confirmed (by the Senate) by the men and women we elect to public office. 

 

FRC Warns 'Modern Caesar,' 'King George III' Obama Using Gay Rights To 'Punish' Christians

In a fundraising sent out last week, the Family Research Council plays up fears of impending Christian persecution in America to warn that President Obama’s positions on gay rights and reproductive choice are meant to “silence” and “punish” conservative Christians.

“You, as a person of faith, are especially at risk because your values and beliefs are standing in the way of the goals of this growing lawlessness,” warns FRC president Tony Perkins.

“Is President Barack Obama becoming a modern Caesar? Or a 21st century version of King George III -- the out-of-control monarch who triggered the American Revolution with his reckless disregard of English laws and biblically-based rights?” Perkins wonders.

Emphases are his:

Is President Barack Obama becoming a modern Caesar? Or a 21st century version of King George III -- the out-of-control monarch who triggered the American Revolution with his reckless disregard of English laws and biblically-based rights?

These may be shocking questions to ask, but I can tell you that thoughtful people inside Washington, D.C., and outside of it are VERY worried. They are worried that President Obama and his administration are so bent on "transforming" America that they are willing, perhaps even planning, to dismiss the laws and Constitution that keep us a free nation.

And the targets include you: your faith, your values, your freedom.

In my 20-plus years of active involvement in the government process, I've never seen anything like the encroaching tyranny I'm seeing today by the Obama administration.

And if we don't join together and stop the abuse of power by the President and his allies, I fear we could lose our freedoms.

You, as a person of faith, are especially at risk because your values and beliefs are standing in the way of the goals of this growing lawlessness :

· You believe in sexual morality. They believe government should protect and fund sexual immorality and punish dissenters like you.

· You believe in the legal exclusivity of natural marriage. They believe you are dangerous. They think coercion is justified to silence you. They have openly declared that the right to homosexual behavior overrules your constitutional right to disagree with their "new morality."

· You believe in the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death. They believe you should be forced to pay for drugs that can destroy human embryos, ObamaCare rationing and other immoral mandates.

The Founders rejected King George III and wanted a government of laws, not men. Yet President Obama and his administration are acting like an imperial monarch. Like Caesar or King George -- not the president envisioned by the Founding Fathers! We must take firm action.

In Misleading UN Testimony, FRC & C-FAM Claim 'Legalizing Abortion Endangers The Lives Of Women'

Yesterday, Wendy Wright, the vice president for government relations at the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), posted a story on the group’s blog about an upcoming meeting on combating the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda. Wright, of course, thinks that the practice of kidnapping children to be sacrificed in ritual murder is “terribly close” to the work of abortion providers:

Uganda will host a conference this fall to create a plan to combat child sacrifice. Attacks have risen recently as the country’s economy is booming. People are hiring experienced [witch] doctors to kill children, believing it will bring health and wealth.

Sound familiar? It’s terribly close to the claim that abortion will improve women’s health and prospects for the future.

So it’s no surprise that when Wright delivered testimony to a UN commission Tuesday on behalf of C-FAM, the Family Research Council and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians, she used any number of misleading and false arguments to urge the UN to fight for maternal health in a way that does not include access to legal abortion.

In her speech to the Commission on Population and Development, Wright downplayed the danger and frequency of illegal abortions, misled about the risks of legal procedures, and denied a link between the criminalization of abortion and unsafe procedures. She even argued that “legalizing abortion actually endangers the lives of women.”

After recommending a number of ways to improve maternal health worldwide, Wright moved onto claiming that legalizing abortion actually endangers women.

There is no quick fix here. And legalizing abortion will not improve maternal health. Mortality from abortion, estimated at less than 15 percent of all causes of maternal death, decreases proportionately with all other causes of maternal death if the right improvements to maternal health care are made, regardless of the legal status of abortion.

This means that complications from abortions, whether legal or not, can only be dealt with through adequate investments in maternal health care. Making abortion legal does not improve maternal health in any way. It only makes it safer for the abortionist. It does not make it any safer to the mother or her unborn child.

Ireland and Chile, which have highly restrictive abortion laws, are world leaders in maternal health, with lower maternal mortality rates than the United States and other wealthy countries. Legalizing abortion actually endangers the lives of women by exposing them to health risks they would not encounter if they were to carry their pregnancies to term.

In fact, as Guttmacher reports [pdf], “there is clear evidence that restrictive abortion laws are associated with a high incidence of unsafe abortion and its health consequences, and abortions in these settings contribute substantially to maternal illness and death.” The group estimates that 47,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortion and notes that restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the number of women obtaining abortions.

Wright’s citation of Ireland and Chile as places with low maternal mortality rates despite restrictive abortion laws is also misleading. Data on the incidence of unsafe abortion in Chile is disputed and women in Ireland commonly travel to England, where abortion is legal, to obtain the procedure.

Wright then cited false, misleading, and disputed statistics to claim that it is actually legal abortion that is dangerous.

Abortions often result in immediate complications, like massive bleeding, infection and death – even in countries where elective abortion is legal. In the United States, abortions carried out after five months of pregnancy are more likely to result in the death of the mother than carrying the pregnancy to term.

Over 130 studies show that elective abortion results in an increased risk of pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies. Women who abort have a greater risk of depression and suicide, as compared to women who give birth.

While Wright claims that “abortions often result in immediate complications,” even in countries where the procedure is legal, in fact surgical abortion conducted under proper conditions is one of the safest medical procedures. She then cites the risks of very late-term abortions, which constitute only one percent of the abortions performed in the United States.

Wright's claim that abortion leads to “a greater risk of depression and suicide” is also false. And while a study last year did find that there was a link in the past between repeated abortions and the risk of preterm birth, it also found that “with modern procedures the danger has all but vanished.”

Gary Bauer Badly Distorts Poll Of GOP Voters To Claim 'Most Americans' Oppose Marriage Equality

It didn’t take long for Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins to misrepresent a recent poll their groups commissioned which found that “82 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage ‘should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.’”

Speaking with Perkins on Washington Watch yesterday, Bauer claimed that the poll actually proves that most Americans opposed legalizing same-sex marriage: “While certainly, particularly among young people, there is some shift on this issue, most Americans still understand that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Bauer said of the Family Research Council/American Values poll.

In fact, the poll explicitly states [PDF] that it only surveyed Republicans and independents who typically vote Republican.

While the poll used heavily slanted Religious Right language when asking GOP voters if they “agree or disagree that politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples,” Perkins and Bauer accused nonpartisan polling firms — which have consistently found that a majority of voters support gay marriage — of using misleading questions to trick people into supporting marriage equality.

“I think, Tony, we both agree that there is an effort underway here to use polls not to measure public opinion but to form public opinion and move it in the direction of the demands of the gay rights movement,” Bauer said. Perkins agreed: “Absolutely, and a lot of that is done by the way the questions are worded.”

“If there had been really been a massive shift among the American people to the redefinition of marriage, I don’t think we would see all over the country the gay rights movement vehemently opposing every effort that happens in any state to actually vote on the issue,” Bauer added, ignoring the fact that gay rights supporters in 2012 successfully led a marriage referendum in Maine.

Bauer later said that the polls are “cooked” in favor of gay marriage and insisted that gay rights advocates are afraid of having a “national referendum” on marriage rights … even though there is no mechanism in election law or the US Constitution to trigger a national referendum on any issue.

“One would assume if there had been a big shift of opinion, the gay rights movement would say, ‘Let’s have a national referendum, we’ll prove it to you.’ But the fact that they will spend millions of dollars to keep off of the ballot in states a reaffirmation of the traditional meaning of marriage I think is further evidence that they know the polling data, which is often being touted in contrast to the poll we’ve got today, are really in many cases — the numbers have been cooked in order to advance a particular social agenda,” Bauer said.

GOP Senate Candidate To Join Anti-Gay Forum Featuring Extremist Pastors

Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who is running in a hotly contested GOP primary to take on Democratic North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, launched his political career by driving the successful campaign to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state constitution.

It should come as no surprise then that Harris will join some of the nation’s most fervent opponents of gay rights at the April 24 North Carolina Regional Briefing, hosted by the anti-gay Family Research Council. Speakers joining the GOP hopeful at the event include:

Patrick Wooden

The North Carolina preacher alleged during the marriage amendment campaign that gay men “have to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels.”

He reiterated his claim in follow-up interview where he insisted that he knows of gay men who have “literally died in diapers” because they “have stretched their anuses, their sphincter muscles” with baseball bats, cell phones and animals:

I know of a case where in a hospital a homosexual male had a cellphone lodged in his anus and as they were operating on him the phone went off, the phone started ringing. There’ve been instances where men have put bats, baseball bats, in their rectums.... Even the homosexual lobby knows, those who are pro-homosexual, they know that they cannot win the argument describing what it is that these people actually do to each other, the objects, the animals in certain cases, the little gerbils; thank God I’m a human being!

Wooden has also called homosexuality “wicked, deviant, immoral, self-destructive, anti-human sexual behavior,” said Tyler Perry and Chaz Bono are under Satan’s influence, warned that Glee promotes “a wicked, perverse lifestyle that destroys people” and described violence against gay people as “normal.”

E.W. Jackson

The pastor and failed GOP Virginia lieutenant governor candidate drew wide notoriety for his claims that gay people are “degenerate,” “perverse” and “very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

He has also warned that homosexuality “poisons culture, destroys families, destroys societies [and] brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of,” adding that it is driven by “spiritually darkened” people who seek to “recruit” others.

Jackson has linked homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, feared that Obama “will force schools to start teaching all children homosexuality” and criticized gay rights advocates and progressives for having supposedly “ done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did.”

He even labeled the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell an “abomination” and said that God will punish the military for allowing openly gay service members, remarks he later denied making even though they were captured on audio and videotape.

Rick Scarborough

The Texas-based Religious Right leader has built a career around stoking fears that Christians will face imprisonmentpersecution, communism and concentration camps if gay marriage becomes legal. He also says that gay people should be only referred to as “sodomites” and should “hang their heads in shame.”

Scarborough blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on “the assault on God’s institution of marriage,” insisted Obama’s opposition to Russia’s anti-gay crackdown will lead to God’s judgment on America, described AIDS as divine punishment for gay “immorality” and called for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.

Ron Baity

The North Carolina pastor who leads Return America, a group which pushed the marriage amendment, has said that “homos” are worse than maggots and akin to murderers.

He has also alleged that gay people are making society “more filthy” and bringing about divine punishment in the form of an “urban renewal program,” adding that “perverted” gay people should be “prosecuted” before they cause the “death” of America.

“Since they cannot produce they must recruit young people to their perverted, warped agenda. One cannot think of anything more nauseating, debased, lewd and immoral than recruiting precious young people into such shameful conduct,” he wrote in a Return America newsletter.

Tony Perkins

As leader of the Family Research Council, Perkins defended Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill and connected homosexuality to a whole host of evils, including death, sexual assault, depressionsuicide, government population control, and child abuse. He has even compared homosexuality to shootings, kidnappings and alcoholism.

Perkins has also said that gay rights advocates are using “disgusting” anti-bullying programs in schools to “recruit” children, arguing that gay youth shouldn’t be affirmed for who they are since they intrinsically know they are “abnormal,” leading to depression and suicide.

The FRC head told one Religious Right group that gay rights advocates are “hateful” pawns of the Devil.

Ken Blackwell Falsely Claims African Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Marriage Equality

Before the 2012 election, many conservative pundits, including Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council, predicted that African American voters would turn on President Obama because of his support for marriage equality and either refuse to vote for the president or back Mitt Romney. Of course, this didn’t actually happen. As Politico reported, “Fully 96 percent of black voters supported Obama and constituted 13 percent of the electorate, a 2-percentage-point rise in their national turnout.”

But right-wing commentators like Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State and GOP activist, persist in arguing that black voters are abandoning Obama over the marriage issue.

On Tuesday’s edition of Washington Watch, Blackwell told guest host Richard Land that African Americans are strongly opposed to marriage equality and are dismayed by Obama’s abandonment of “biblical truth.” “There is no confusion on this issue in the African American community,” he said.

Blackwell may want to check an ABC/Washington Post poll taken shortly after Obama’s announcement that he backs gay marriage, which found that 59 percent of African Americans favor marriage equality.

Land: Isn’t it true that same-sex marriage is less popular among African Americans than any other segment of the society?

Blackwell: That is correct. If you go to California, look at Ohio, what you find out is that the black communities across this country have come out in strong numbers to underscore the point that marriage, natural marriage, is a union between one man and one woman. There is no confusion on this issue in the African American community and I think that we should hold our African American president and another African American leader who speaks to the contrary to account because he’s not reflecting the aspirations or the biblical truth that most black Americans hold onto.

Land: You’re on the frontlines, you’re in the battle. It’s not lost, is it? We can still win this.

Blackwell: Absolutely. We will win this and we can’t give up.

Tony Perkins' Disingenuous Boycott 'Outrage'

On Saturday, Mike Huckabee and Tony Perkins chatted about Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy’s decision to play down his opposition to marriage equality, with Perkins suggesting that he is a “coward.”

The two also stepped up their attack on gay rights and liberal activists who backed a boycott of the restaurant chain and said that they would never target businesses over their views on gay rights.

Huckabee said that “nobody” is targeting left-leaning CEOs like Howard Schultz of Starbucks, and Perkins charged that such boycotts wrongly “silence” political speech and undermine freedom and liberty.

Of course, Perkins was being totally disingenuous as he has personally endorsed several boycott campaigns…including a boycott of Starbucks over its stance on gay rights.

Perkins and his group, the Family Research Council, championed a boycott of Girl Scouts cookies, and helped lead boycott campaigns targeting companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart [PDF] over their stances on gay rights.

Last year, Perkins called for a boycott of Betty Crocker after the company donated custom cakes to same-sex weddings after Minnesota approved marriage equality.

Despite this clear double standard, Perkins continues to get away with his claim that only gay rights advocates target businesses and that Religious Right activists — always the victim — would never ever do such a thing.

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/9/14

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