Jay Sekulow

ACLJ: Blasphemy Laws For Me, But Not For Thee?

Yesterday, Miranda reported on the seemingly contradictory views of the American Center for Law and Justice’s European and Slavic affiliates when it comes to blasphemy laws. The ECLJ has been vocal in opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but the SCLJ supported passage of a new anti-blasphemy law in Russia. The law provides for fines, “correctional labor” and up to three years behind bars for “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers.” SCLJ’s co-chairman Vladimir Rehyakovsky expressed some reservations about the final form of the law, but said it was “very important” to have such a law in place.

So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?  On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression.  In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”

But more than a decade ago, in response to an “Ask Jay” question posted on the ACLJ’s website, the group’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said it was “an unfortunate situation” that states no longer have laws against blasphemy, something he blamed on “the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people.”  Sekulow bemoaned the fact that “religion lacks protection in the law.”

Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.

So it appears that the ACLJ is ready to champion free speech when it comes to opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but supports restrictions on blasphemy in place where Christians are in the majority.  Perhaps that double standard is not much of a surprise, given that the ACLJ, which portrays itself as a champion of religious liberty, helped lead opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in New York that critics inaccurately called the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The ACLJ is a legal group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and run by Jay Sekulow and his son Jordan in a manner that is very lucrative for the Sekulow family.

Religious Right 'Freedom And Liberty' Group ACLJ Backed Russian 'Gay Propaganda' And Blasphemy Bans

The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”

But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.

And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.

In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ's overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.

The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.

SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.

The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.

It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.

Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.

In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.

In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”

Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”

In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:

The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.

It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.

A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.

Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”

“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”

That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.

“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.

The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.

After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.

Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”

However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.

Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”

Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”

“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”

The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”

ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”

Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”

In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.

But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”

We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”

Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”

Puppinck reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.

GOP Congressmen Jump On Phony Internet Scandal

Even though the right-wing conspiracy theory about President Obama handing over control of the Internet to foreign powers has been completely discredited, the myth continues to survive among conservative activists and Republicans in Congress, who have seized upon the debunked claim to attack the Obama administration.

WorldNetDaily reports today that Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, one of the chief groups pushing the false attack, has garnered over 100,000 signatures on its petition demanding Congress take action against the phony scandal.

GOP congressmen are more than happy to help. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois told WND that Obama is helping “authoritarian governments” push “their anti-freedom agendas” on the Internet, while Tennessee’s Rep. Marsha Blackburn warned that Obama’s move “will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates.”

As we’ve noted before, the Obama administration actually turned down requests from China and Russia to give Internet oversight to a United Nations-led panel and instead completed a sixteen year plan to relinquish oversight to a non-profit backed by the US Department of Commerce.

But Republicans and right-wing activists don’t seemed to be bothered by the fact that the administration’s decision actually represented a rebuke to countries like Russia and China, and are more than happy to gin up fears that Obama is paving the way for the censorship of the Internet.

It took just days for more than 113,000 people to sign a petition by the American Center for Law and Justice opposing the plan.

Members of Congress confirmed that in just the past few weeks, some of the possible members of the multinational body — including Russia, Turkey, China and Malaysia — either have censored the Internet in their own nations or vowed to do it.

“This isn’t a theoretical debate,” warned Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., one of several lawmakers working on one of the legislative plans.

He’s joined by Reps. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“There are real authoritarian governments in the world today who have no tolerance for the free flow of information and ideas,” Shimkus said. “What possible benefit could come from giving the Vladimir Putins of the world a new venue to push their anti-freedom agendas?”



“This decision represents another hostile step by the administration on the heels of net neutrality and the FCC’s CIN Study that threatens our freedom of speech. Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the Internet looks and operates,” she warned.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which organized the petition effort, said the Obama administration is pushing into dangerous territory.

“This move would put the online liberty of Americans at great risk,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “By turning over this key oversight to an international community – which is likely to include countries hostile to America – the world’s most powerful instrument of free speech would be subject to censorship, could be taxed, and would make it easier for cyber-fraud schemes to expand in countries around the globe.”

Sekulow said the “success and freedom of the Internet would be in grave jeopardy if the Obama administration is allowed to carry through with its plan to turn over control of the Internet to a ‘multinational’ body.”

“Free speech is at the core of our Constitution. We’re working with members of Congress on legislation to keep the Internet – and our free speech – free,” he said.

Jay Sekulow Touts Phony Internet Scandal, Claims It Will 'Censor The Church'

As we have noted several times, right-wing groups are falsely claiming that the Obama administration has relinquished control of the Internet to a United Nations-controlled group. In fact, quite the opposite is true: Politico reports that the administration rebuffed calls from Russia and China to give authority to the United Nations-led International Telecommunication Union, and instead completed a sixteen year transition of Internet oversight to a US-backed nonprofit.

Naturally, Obama critics are now alleging that the president did the opposite of what actually occurred and handed over authority to the UN body.

Religious Right leader Jay Sekulow today emailed members of the American Center for Law and Justice to warn that “the President wants to hand over control of the Internet to a multinational group, including corrupt dictatorships in China, Russia, and Iran,” warning that the move could “mean censoring the Church if it reaches out to Islamic lands” and “exposing our own computers to greater risk of fraud and other cybercrimes.”

So there you have it: the Obama administration rejects efforts to relinquish Internet oversight to the UN, and conservative activists decide to attack him anyway by falsely claiming that he did the exact opposite of what he did.

There is simply no excuse for the Obama Administration’s latest move.

The President wants to hand over control of the Internet to a multinational group, including corrupt dictatorships in China, Russia, and Iran.

Why?

China, Russia, and Iran have all signaled they want greater control over the Internet, including control over what we see and write.

Does this mean censoring the Church if it reaches out to Islamic lands?

Does this mean exposing our own computers to greater risk of fraud and other cybercrimes?

America has kept the Internet free for a generation; let’s keep it free. Stand with the ACLJ and stand against the Obama Administration’s latest attack on your liberty.

No, Obama Hasn't Handed Over The Internet To China And Islamists

Need more proof that right-wing activists will keep pushing their conspiracy theories even after they have been thoroughly and decisively debunked?

Take the case of the recent announcement that the federal government will relinquish oversight of the Internet to a US-backed nonprofit, which has prompted conservatives to claim that the United Nations, China, and Islamic governments will now seize control of the Internet. As it turns out, the transition has been in the making for 16 years and actually stifles attempts to increase the authority of the UN-led International Telecommunication Union.

In spite of these facts, right-wing activists are now arguing that the exact opposite is happening.

Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice today unveiled a misleading petition suggesting that the UN will take control of the Internet.

The Obama Administration is giving up American control over the Internet, handing over its most important technical functions to a “multinational” body – perhaps even the U.N.

But do we want Russia or China influencing whether we can create websites? Do we want the U.N. controlling key aspects of the world’s most powerful mode of communication – our free speech?

America has kept the Internet free. Don’t let our nation sign over our freedom to dictators.

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,

America has kept the Internet free for decades. There is no reason to trust that dictators from Russia and China will protect our freedoms. Maintain American control and protect our online liberty.

ACT! for America, Brigitte Gabriel’s anti-Muslim group, released an even more frantic and deceptive response to the announcement, warning that the administration’s move will lead to the imposition of Sharia law on the Internet.

“Our founding fathers are turning in their grave!” the group said about the Internet oversight transition. “The truth cannot be silenced!”

WE MUST EXPOSE THIS OUTRAGE

Once again President Obama is putting you and your family at risk by giving power to the United Nations (UN) to control the Internet and muzzle YOUR freedom of speech, putting you at a risk of legal action just for expressing your view on the Internet!

If you’re a politician in Washington, and you want to bury bad news, you release an announcement late on Friday afternoon.

On Friday, March 14th, at 3:30pm, the Obama administration announced that America was surrendering control to the UN over key aspects of the Internet (control that America had because we built it in the first place).

Unfortunately, the largest voting bloc in the UN is the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a Saudi-dominated bloc of 57 nations that has waged an aggressive campaign against free speech, freedom of the press and free expression.

For an American president to betray the American public, our founding fathers, our Constitution, and throw our freedom of speech at the feet of tyrants to decide what we can and cannot say under the threat of a law suit for hate crime is unconscionable – shameful – reckless and stretches the boundaries of betrayal.

Our founding fathers are turning in their grave!

We at ACT! For America believe that truth is invincible. The truth cannot be silenced! We believe that if we can reach enough people with our message in defense of our security, our liberty and our values, America will prevail over those who want to destroy our way of life.



We know that the Jihadists not only have our country, our values and our citizens in their crosshairs, but the truth itself. And Jihad is based on the belief that the truth must be hidden, bent and broken.

It is disturbing and chilling that the Obama administration could allow the OIC, along with the Shariah doctrine to which it adheres, to suppress free speech on a global basis via control of the Internet.

Up to now, American oversight of the Internet has ensured that it has run with efficiency and openness, without political pressure.

Authoritarian governments, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Iran, have already been working to control the Internet and now they will no doubt move to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.

In the future, domains could be banned and new ones not approved for groups deemed undesirable by the OIC or its members.

Let us never forget all that our founding fathers sacrificed so that we can enjoy the democratic freedoms we have today. Let us not forget how so many of them gave their lives for this and that many of them died destitute. They were willing to give everything they had. We cannot let them down. We must stand up, fight this, and inform Americans about what our president has just done. Please help us get this message out by following this link right away to make the most generous tax deductible donation you can afford.

Barbaric regimes from Khartoum to Tehran, and Damascus to Riyadh, have cut off their own citizens' Internet access in the past, but they have been unable to undermine general access to the Internet, where no one needs any government's permission to launch a website. This hallmark of Internet freedom is now endangered.

Dictators and tyrants, who have always silenced their critics and suppressed independent media, have long had a goal of “international” control over the Internet. Now the stage is set for them to achieve that goal.

UN members have called for a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to replace America’s authority and challenge an open Internet. One critic calls the ITU “the chosen vehicle for regimes for whom the free and open Internet is seen as an existential threat.”



ACT! For America isn’t going to take this lying down. If the Internet is silenced, liberty will be silenced. If those who oppose tyranny are prevented from delivering their message, it is the same as being bound and gagged.

We must continue to confront the enemies of freedom at home and abroad.

Beck: America Is 'The Stink On The Crap Pile'

Last night's Glenn Beck program was a cavalcade of insanity, even by the generally insane standards of Beck's nightly program, as he spent most of the show railing against Common Core and ginning up outrage over the FCC's non-existent plans to place "monitors" in newsrooms all over the nation.  Beck even had the ALCJ's Jay Sekulow on the show to warn that this FCC study represents "the greatest assault on free press that we've seen in my lifetime" before turning his attention to the crisis in Ukraine in order to warn his audience that it is only a matter of time before what is happening there starts happening in cities all over America.

As he explained in this clip from one of his daily staff meetings, America is actually fortunate that, right now, we are just "the stink on the crap pile" because that gives us a little bit of time to prepare before our society and the entire world go up in flames.

Beck then somehow linked that to his obsession with the FCC study, warning that the government would use monitors to prevent news outlets from reporting the news that Americans need to know, crying out "don't you see? How can people be so stupid? Don't they see they are closing the noose around you?"

Sekulow Admits He Has No Problem With The DC Circuit Nominees He Opposes

On the 700 Club today, Pat Robertson got to talking with the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow about President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. Although Robertson was concerned that there might be a “feminist”among them, Sekulow said he had no problem with the nominees themselves and instead repeated the GOP’s flimsy argument that President Obama’s nominating people to judicial vacancies constitutes “court-packing.”

Sekulow went out of his way to sing the praises of one of the three nominees, Patricia Millett, whom he called “a very bright lawyer,” but said the nominees’ qualifications are “not the question. The question is are these judges needed?”

Sekulow – like many of his allies in the Senate GOP – might want to check his own record before claiming that President Obama’s filling the D.C. Circuit’s vacant 9th, 10th, and 11th seats amounts to “court packing.” Under President Bush, Sekulow advocated for nominees to the very same seats: He boasted about “working aggressively” to confirm Janice Rogers Brown to the court’s 10th seat in 2005, supported Thomas Griffith’s nomination to the court’s 11th seat the same year, and demanded a vote on Brett Kavanaugh to the 10th seat in 2006.

Despite Sekulow’s vague claim that “There’s a real question as to the workload of these courts that are at an all-time low in the last ten or fifteen years,” the George W. Bush nominee who now runs the official body that recommends adding and subtracting federal judgeships has said the D.C. Circuit’s workload has remained “relatively steady” over that time.

Sekulow may also remember that he lobbied in 2005 to change the Senate’s filibuster rules in response to Senate Democrats’ blocking of a handful of extreme Bush nominees, saying that judicial nominees are “entitled...under the Constitution” to an up-or-down Senate vote.

Although he’s happy to rail against President Obama’s temerity in nominating qualified, unobjectionable judges to judicial vacancies, Sekulow signaled to Robertson that he would expect a Republican president to do the same, but to fill the vacancies with out-of-the-mainstream judges.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said of the Senate’s recent rules change. “And it means what’s going to happen here is when the Republicans are back in control -- which will happen one day, in the Senate, in the White House – look out on who’s going to be appointed. There should be no holds barred on these judicial appointments.”

 

Pat Robertson on Justice Kennedy: 'Does He Have Some Clerks Who Happen To Be Gays?'

Pat Robertson is wondering if Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion on the case striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, may have been influenced by his sneaky gay clerks. Robertson’s remarks followed a totally impartial 700 Club news segment where Christian Broadcasting Network reporter Paul Strand said that gay rights advocates have “bashed” Christians and the Supreme Court “denigrated” marriage equality opponents.

While speaking to acolyte Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which Robertson founded, the televangelist said: “let me ask you about Anthony Kennedy, does he have some clerks who happen to be gays?”

Following the wrongheaded talking points of other anti-gay activists, Robertson called into question the sexual orientation of district judge Vaughn Walker who was the first to rule on Prop. 8: “going into California, I understand the district court judge there either was an advocate of homosexual activity, or was a homosexual, or had a wife, some connection.” Sekulow agreed that the judge was biased and said that “there was a real controversy because the judge’s sexual orientation became, unfortunately, part of the case.”

Watch highlights here:

Oops: Five Conservative IRS Conspiracy Theories Fall Apart

Just as the GOP’s hyperventilation and grandstanding over Benghazi turned up empty, so are their claims that the IRS has been targeting right-wing groups. New reports show that the IRS did apply extra scrutiny to groups with phrases like “Tea Party” in their names…but the agency also applied the same scrutiny to groups with “progressive” or “occupy” in their titles. This backs up an earlier story from The Atlantic which also found that liberal groups had been targeted.

Prior to these revelations, we learned that the White House had no role in the supposed targeting and that the IRS manager accused of political bias is a conservative Republican.

But for some reason we don’t think this will stop right-wing activists from alleging that President Obama directed the IRS to go after political opponents as part of his plans to create an all-powerful, totalitarian government.

The IRS story has made its way into five right-wing conspiracy theories that we don’t expect to go away any time soon, despite being totally ungrounded in reality.

1) IRS May Deny Medical Care To Conservatives

Rep. Michele Bachmann led the way in giving credence to a claim that the IRS, through Obamacare, might attempt to “deny or delay” access to medical care for conservatives. After embracing the WorldNetDaily-inspired conspiracy theory, she told Fox News that the IRS may deny or delay health care “based upon our political beliefs.” Even Rand Paul latched onto the debunked conspiracy theory.

Right on cue, James Dobson’s son Ryan alleged that his father may be denied medical treatments under Obamacare, and Janet Porter said that the IRS may use the reform law to “target individuals on whether or not they have the ability to exist as a live human being” by denying people “lifesaving treatment” based on their “political views.”

2) Obama’s The New Hitler

Glenn Beck reacted to the IRS story by warning that the government could “shut down” and “scoop up” Tea Party members much like how Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews. “This is the way totalitarian states are created,” Beck argued. “We will be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world, we will dwarf what Germany did.”

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder agreed, maintaining that “Concentration Camp Obama” may “shove you in a cattle car” and take you “‘camping’ in a very real sense” if you are part of the conservative movement, all by “using the IRS as a presidential goon squad.” Todd Starnes of Fox News even pointed to the IRS controversy to claim that conservatives “could be facing a 1930s Germany here,” while End Times radio host Rick Wiles used the IRS as proof that Obama is leading a “modern day Nazi regime” and the “Fourth Reich.”

3) Obama Committed Impeachable Offenses

Naturally, right-wing activists brought impeachment into the debate over the IRS. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said Obama may face the same impeachment charges as Richard Nixon as a result of the “misuse and abuse of the IRS.” Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said that the “IRS scandal is much worse than Watergate” and agreed that “there are many reasons why Obama should be impeached.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry similarly drew a comparison to Nixon and said that the “scandal” may “reach the level of criminal activity” and reveal “a pattern of abuse of power.” Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner went even further and asserted that Obama is “ worse than Nixon” and added it to his long list of supposedly impeachable offenses, while Alan Keyes demanded that the GOP’s “cry should be ‘IMPEACHMENT NOW!’” Not to be outdone, Glenn Beck argued that “if there aren’t impeachment hearings” then America is “already operating under tyranny.”

4) Obama Would Have Lost If It Wasn’t For The IRS

Even though conservative outside groups greatly outspent their left-leaning counterparts in the last election, the IRS controversy has led some to allege that conservatives groups were not allowed to get off the ground and that must have been why Obama won his race for re-election.

Janet Porter reasoned that “the elections were affected” because “every Tea Party group and every conservative group…weren’t allowed to exist” or “inform their members of what’s going on and what’s at stake.” John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, a champion of suppressive voter ID laws and voter purges, told Fox News that “the real voter suppression in the 2012 election was done at the IRS” and “suppressed the vote” to the point that it “may have played a role in the outcome of that very close election.”

The American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis even made the dubious claim that 5-8.5 million voters didn’t vote last year due to IRS actions. Dean Chambers, whose “unskewed” polls predicted Obama’s defeat, claimed he was right all along, alleging that the “systematic and wide-scale suppression of Tea Party and conservative activity and votes, via the IRS targeting of those groups” had “clearly denied Mitt Romney the election that [he] clearly would have won by about the very margin I predicted on November 5 of last year.”

5) Demonic Forces Behind IRS Scandal

Larry Klayman said that “felonious liberal Jews” have used the IRS to attack conservatives to undermine “our proud Judeo-Christian roots and heritage,” but televangelist James Robison took it one step further, arguing that “Satan himself” had a role: “He and his demonic forces are fiercely focusing their fury against God’s kingdom purpose and anyone committed to it. What you are witnessing daily in news reports concerning Washington’s bad practices and policies related to the gross abuse of power by the IRS, along with unconstitutional checks on the free press, reveals satanic intent to take away freedom.” Rick Wiles also saw a demonic role in the IRS pseudo-scandal, stating that the IRS is creating the “Fourth Beat as foretold by Daniel in the Holy Bible.”

Pat Robertson on Obama's Victory: 'What is Going On with the American People?'

The Christian Broadcasting Network put on an election night special and host Pat Robertson appeared to be dumbfounded that President Obama won re-election. Robertson’s guests included Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, Regent University vice president Paul Bonicelli and Romney adviser Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the legal group Robertson founded. Barnes reassured Robertson that even if Obama wins, the President “hardly has a mandate for anything” because “this was a status quo election,” as apparently Barnes thinks any incumbent who gets re-elected doesn’t have a mandate. But Sekulow said that Obama will likely appoint two or three justices to the Supreme Court and will use the power of the executive branch to push new “encroachments on liberty and freedom.”

Robertson, who throughout the program held out hope that Karl Rove’s prediction that Romney could win Ohio would materialize, was stunned that Obama was the winner: “What have they got? He doesn’t seem to have any program and yet he’s been able to win a re-election, what is going on with the American people?” Bonicelli said that Americans will spend their next four years “regretting this decision” and Robertson warned that the U.S. is looking more like Western Europe and even Zaire.

Watch highlights here:

Of course, Robertson should not have been surprised since earlier this year God told him who would win the election.

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/1/12

  • Jay Sekulow says the presence of international election monitors "can only be described as a troubling attempt to intimidate voters and poll works on Election Day."
  • David Caton, president of the Florida Family Association, says MSNBC "is the most dishonest, most anti-Christian, and most pro-Islamist news network out there, bar none."
  • Donald Trump continues to prove that he is a genuinely awful person, blaming President Obama for not releasing his records and thereby preventing Trump from donating millions for hurricane relief.
  • Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, FRC is praying that the storm will cause people to "repent and turn to Jesus!" 
  • Michael Brown warns that "if we have four more years of President Obama -- barring true, national revival in the Church that would lead to a cultural awakening -- it could well be that same-sex 'marriage' will be the law of the land and the norm taught in schools ... those opposing [his redefinition of marriage] will be officially classified as bigots, that public criticism of gay activism would be virtually forbidden, and that churches (and synagogues and even mosques) that differ with gay activism will be persecuted ... for their stands."
  • Finally, the quote of the day from Stephen Prothero: "I used to believe that the purpose of the religious right was to infuse American politics with Christian politicians and Christian politics. I no longer believe that. The purpose of the religious right is to use the Christian God for political purposes ... I am perfectly happy to see [Ralph] Reed stump for Romney in Ohio and [Billy] Graham plump for Romney in an ad in The Wall Street Journal. Just don’t tell me they are doing so as Christians. They are doing so as shills for the GOP."

Jay Sekulow Continues to Push False Claim that Obama is Threatening Military Voters

Yesterday we noted that Jay Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice is pushing a bogus charge, initially leveled by Mitt Romney’s campaign, that President Obama is trying to suppress the military vote in Ohio. The Obama campaign is challenging a new state law pushed by Republicans which limited early in-person voting to military personnel. The lawsuit’s goal is to expand early in-person voting to all eligible voters, including 900,000 veterans, not to limit military voting.

Even the Romney campaign’s general counsel admits that the lawsuit is not about excluding military voters but expanding the voter pool, as Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker” reports: “As for the memo from Katie Biber, who serves as general counsel to the Romney campaign, the plaintiffs’ argument of arbitrariness and unconstitutionality relates only to Ohio’s exclusion of civilians from the later voting deadline, not to the privilege granted to service members…. Again, the emphasis throughout the Democratic complaint is that Ohio should protect the Equal Protection Clause by ordering the state to extend the later deadline to civilian voters.”

But while Romney’s own general counsel cannot honestly defend the campaign’s preposterous claim, Jay Sekulow is standing by the debunked allegation.

Yesterday on Jay Sekulow Live, he berated Obama over the phony charge and said the ACLJ will file an amicus brief opposing the Obama campaign’s challenge. Sekulow even added to the already manufactured claim by saying that the Obama campaign wants to restrict the voting of “military men and women serving overseas,” even though the law only covers in-person early voting, and the challenge to it could in no way restrict the right of any service member to vote.

I want people to understand this, folks, the Obama administration has initiated this lawsuit, I should say to be particular the Obama re-election committee, it’s Obama for America, has filed suit against Ohio because Ohio is trying to accommodate military men and women serving overseas. I want you to think about that for a moment. The Obama administration or their re-election committee has filed a federal lawsuit to stop a law that would allow for an accommodation for men and women serving in the military serving overseas to vote. How does that make you feel? I hope you get outraged as I am on this and that’s why we’re not just talking about it because on this broadcast we don’t just talk about it we’re taking direct action but this is where you come in, I want all of the states to come to the aid of Ohio and you can do that with me so no matter where you are living, we want you on this brief.



You got the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States’ re-election committee, filing a lawsuit to stop an accommodation. I want people to understand this. The Commander in Chief of the United States has his re-election committee file a federal lawsuit against the state of Ohio and the state of Ohio with wide bipartisan Democratic and Republican support passed legislation accommodating military men and women so that they’re vote will actually count. And the Obama re-election committee says ‘well we think that is arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional.’

ACLJ Promotes Bogus Claim that Obama is Suppressing Military Voters

President Obama’s campaign is suing Ohio after Republicans changed a voting law that ended early in-person voting, while leaving intact the right for service members to show up to the polls early. But Republicans, including Mitt Romney, say that the lawsuit meant to restore voting rights of most Ohioans would somehow hamper the right of soldiers to vote early, an obviously false and dishonest claim. Fox News has repeated the debunked talking points, and now Jay Sekulow, an early Romney backer, today emailed members of the American Center for Law and Justice stating that “Obama obstructs military voting rights.”

The Obama re-election campaign has filed a lawsuit to overturn a law that gives members of the military a few extra days to vote prior to Election Day.

Our heroes in the military sacrifice so much for us and face considerable risks that often make it more difficult for them to vote.

It's outrageous that the President's re-election campaign would oppose giving them extra consideration to exercise their right to vote.

They are serving to protect our right to vote; we need to stand up now to protect their voting rights. The ACLJ is filing an amicus brief, and we would like you to stand with us.

The ACLJ even started the “Committee to Defend Military Voting Rights” based on an entirely manufactured threat to military voting.

The Obama Re-election campaign has filed a lawsuit to overturn a law that gives members of the military a few extra days to vote early. Men and women in the military sacrifice dearly for our country and they deserve and have the lawful and constitutional right to additional consideration.

Stand with the U.S. military. The ACLJ will file an amicus brief backing the Ohio law - giving our military men and women an opportunity to cast their ballots in a constitutional manner. Add your name to our brief defending the voting rights of the U.S. military today.

This challenge by the Obama Re-election Campaign is not only unconstitutional, but it is also offensive to millions of Americans. Our military heroes deserve to have this lawful courtesy extended to them - not more roadblocks making it even more difficult for them to participate in the election.

New Report on African Politics Features RWW Research

Political Research Associates released a new report yesterday to shed light on the activities of Religious Right organizations in Africa – activities that often fly under the radar of American media.

Exporting similar tactics used to influence voters and policymakers in the United States, a broad coalition of far-right groups have invested heavily on outposts in African nations. These groups use their outsize influence to push for radical legislation banning all rights for LGBT persons and curbing reproductive rights.

The report authored by Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest originally from Zambia, investigates the Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, the Mormon-led Family Watch International, and the Roman Catholic Human Life International, as well as a network of Christian dominionists known as the Transformation Movement or New Apostolic Reformation. The report details ACLJ's efforts to influence the constitution-writing process in Zimbabwe and Kenya, and the anti-LGBT and anti-reproductive justice activities of the other groups in such countries as Uganda, Malawi and Zambia.

The report lays out a detailed explanation of why the Christian right enjoys sizable influence on the African continent, and issues ten recommendations for protecting human rights and developing an infrastructure for the long term.

RWW’s own Brian Tashman is featured in the report, in an article which explores the role of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a right-wing legal group founded by Pat Robertson and led by Jay Sekulow.

His research sheds light on its extensive network (and questionable accounting practices) and opposition to LGBT and reproductive rights at home and abroad:

The ACLJ is now one of the principal legal advocacy groups in the conservative movement, along with the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, the Liberty Institute, and the Thomas More Law Center. The group has built strong partnerships with many Religious Right groups, including the Christian Defense Coalition, Faith and Action,5 the American Family Association,6 and WallBuilders. Its reach has expanded globally with affiliates in countries including France, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil.



The Better Business Bureau says the ACLJ does not meet ten of its twenty standards for charity accountability, citing problems with oversight, compensation, accuracy of expenses, financial transparency, and disclosure; even the founder of the conservative Rutherford Institute has criticized the group’s financial mismanagement.9 An Associated Press investigation found that since 1998, the ACLJ and Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE), Sekulow’s family-controlled charity, “have paid more than $33 million to members of Sekulow’s family and businesses they own or co-own.”

Rep. Jeff Landry Baselessly Claims the Obama Administration offers Muslim Airline Passengers 'Waivers' to bypass TSA Screenings

Today on Jay Sekulow Live, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) discussed with the American Center for Law and Justice’s Chief Counsel an amicus brief that the ACLJ is putting together on behalf of the congressman in the lawsuit against the Obama administration’s mandate for health insurance plans to include contraception coverage. Landry maintained that the Obama administration is showing its “hypocrisy” by mandating that religiously-affiliated hospitals and universities cover contraception in their health insurance plans while also “granting special status or waivers to Muslims as they go through TSA screenings.”

The congressman’s allegation that the Obama administration is giving Muslim passengers “special rights as they go through the TSA screening” doesn’t seem to have any basis in reality, as the TSA on its website gives no mention of religious exemptions and TSA administrator John Pistole testified that anyone who wants to avoid a pat down based on religious reasons is “not going to get on an airplane.”

Sekulow: How big of a deal, how big of an issue is this both in the body politics [sic] and among your constituents?

Landry: Down here in south Louisiana this is huge, this is very important to my constituency. I think the biggest problems that a lot of Americans are having out there is the hypocrisy of this administration. Remember, this is an administration who has no problem granting special status or waivers to Muslims as they go through TSA screenings. Look, as they believe that there is a need to grant them special rights as they go through the TSA screening based upon their religion, that’s fine, I’m ok with that. But then don’t turn around and attack Christians when they stand up and say ‘listen, we believe that the policies you’re putting in place violate our religious freedoms as well.

Landry warned that if the contraception mandate, which he called a “dangerous” exercise of power, is upheld then there will be “no limit to what the federal government can do”:

This strikes at the very foundation of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, if we allow the federal government to violate this principle there is no limit to what the federal government can do thereafter.



To me this is one of the biggest cases brought forth in the country in a long, long time. I got to tell you, my hat’s off to the Catholic bishops around America, they have gotten to the point where they understand that this exercise that is going on with the federal government is a dangerous one. If they allow this to happen, if we allow this to happen as Americans, as Catholics, as Christians, there is no limit to where the government goes from here. You know, Jay, to me that is the biggest danger, that should be the biggest concern, I mean where does it stop after this?

Ironically-Named 'Military Religious Freedom Protection Act' Opens the Door for Conservative Scare-Tactics

After the American Center for Law and Justice hosted Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) to promote his bill that he claims would help stop Obama from “using the military as a guinea pig” for the “radical homosexual agenda,” Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ sent an email alert to members claiming that if Huelskamp’s Military Religious Freedom Protection Act fails to pass Congress, then “military chaplains could be required to perform same-sex marriages”:

Soon military chaplains could be required to perform same-sex marriages.

To continue ministering to the men and women who are putting their lives on the line for our country, military chaplains would have to violate their faith.

The Senate is considering legislation to protect religious liberty in our military, and we must act now for these strong men of faith.

The House of Representatives has already passed legislation that protects the religious liberty of everyone serving in the military – especially chaplains. The Senate is days away from taking up similar legislation, and we must act quickly.

Religious liberty is a foundational right, and we should expect our elected officials on both sides of the aisle to support it. President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage may be driving his policy, but it should not affect the religious freedom of our men and women who risk their lives to protect our rights and freedom.

Despite Sekulow’s ominous message, the Washington Post reported following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell that while chaplains will be able to perform same-sex marriages in states where they are legal; they will not be required to do so:

The Pentagon will permit military chaplains to perform same-sex marriage as long as such ceremonies are not prohibited in the states where they reside, it said Friday.

Defense Department guidance issued to military chaplains said they may participate in ceremonies on or off military bases in states that recognize gay unions. Chaplains are not required to officiate at same-sex weddings if doing so is counter to their religious or personal beliefs, the guidance said.

In fact, the only way the Military Religious Freedom Protection Act significantly changes the law is by imposing a ban on the use of military installations in same-sex marriage ceremonies, prohibiting houses of worship on military property from exercising their freedom to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.

Regent U: Pat Robertson's Sorbonne

A new web ad for Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School makes clear that, for both students and faculty, "law is more than a profession, it is a calling" as everyone from Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow to John Ashcroft and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonald hail the impact that the school has already had on society.

And while Robertson declares that his mission for Regent University is not simply to rival the likes of Harvard or Yale but "to rival Oxford and the Sorbonne in the Middle Ages as a school that can impact the whole society," students are dedicated to ensuring that they "use the law to further the kingdom of God" and "line up human law with what God wants it to be":

Sekulow Feigns Outrage at Challenge to Conservative Justices

PFAW Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin went on Fox News last night to discuss the Supreme Court oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act with Sean Hannity and the American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow. Unsurprisingly, Sen. Raskin didn’t get much time to make his case before he was hit with a wave of faux outrage from Sekulow and Hannity.

The subject of the outrage? Sen. Raskin had called some of the conservative justices’ questions “weak” – which somehow for Sekulow turned into “attacking the integrity of justices of the United States.”

The conversation starts about five minutes into this clip:

Sekulow’s attempt at outrage is rather stunning, since his organization, the ACLJ, exists in a large part to rail against the motivations – or, if you will, the “integrity” -- of judges and justices with whom he disagrees. When the 9th Circuit ruled in favor of marriage equality, he slammed it as “another example of an activist judiciary that overreached.” When the Senate was considering then-appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor for her seat on the Supreme Court, Sekulow said, "To call her a judicial activist is an insult to judicial activists."

Sekulow has every right to criticize justices and judges with whom he disagrees. But he doesn’t exactly have the high ground for slamming those who offer mild criticism of questions conservative justices ask in oral arguments.

For more on Jamie Raskin’s analysis of the health care case, read his piece in the Huffington Post yesterday.

###
 

PFAW

Religious Right Prays for the Supreme Court to Overturn Health Care Reform

With the Supreme Court hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law this week, conservative groups are reviving the apocalyptic rhetoric they developed when the law was passed.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed the case on today’s Faith & Freedom, where Staver said that if the court did not overturn the law it would set “an incredibly bad precedent that allows huge power grabs, not just in this medical insurance issue but in every place else.”

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice emailed members that the law is an “atrocity”:

Over the next three days, the ObamaCare oral arguments will be heard before the Supreme Court.

Roe v. Wade made it a "right" to end the life of an unborn child; ObamaCare forces every taxpayer to help pay to end the life of an unborn child.

We are fighting this atrocity, and we need your voice now.



As we have said since the beginning, ObamaCare uses taxpayer dollars to dramatically grow the abortion business. Now we know that President Obama is also forcing citizens to directly pay an abortion surcharge with health insurance plans.

Forcing us to pay for abortion is not only a moral outrage, it is a violation of our constitutional rights.

The Christian Defense Coalition plans to “encircle” the Supreme Court to pray “that the President's Health Care legislation is declared unconstitutional”:

The groups will also lay 3,300 flowers around the court as a "prophetic witness" to the Justices, reminding them of the 3,300 children who die every day from abortion and the 3,300 women who are diminished through abortion.



Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and one of the organizers of "Encircle the Court in Prayer", states;

"We are calling people from all America to come to Supreme Court and 'encircle it with prayer' from March 25 as we cry out to God for justice, human rights and religious freedom.

"Sadly, the President's Health Care legislation crushes religious freedom and liberty with unjust mandates on faith institutions and forces taxpayers to subsidize abortions.

"We will be praying that the President's Health Care legislation is declared unconstitutional so Congress can put forward health care legislation that will respect religious freedom, protect human life and honor the principles of our Constitution.

"When Roe v. Wade was decided, the Christian community was detached and uninvolved. We want to make sure that is not the case this time as we challenge people of faith to publicly pray and speak out with boldness and passion."

Romney's Faith Leaders Rip Gingrich's 'Despicable Behavior'

On Wednesday, Newt Gingrich held a conference call with faith leaders during which he declared that the push for marriage equality is an example of "the rise of paganism" while his supporters warned that failure to elect Gingrich would quite literally spell the end of America and Western Civilization.

On Thursday, the Mitt Romney campaign held its own conference call with its own faith leaders who ripped Gingrich for his arrogance, recklessness, and "despicable behavior":

The Mitt Romney campaign held a conference call this morning with social conservative Republicans in Florida, touting the former Massachusetts governor's integrity and values and contrasting him to Newt Gingrich. Leading the call were Pastor David Janney of Orlando Baptist Church, the largest church in Orlando, former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Indialantic, and Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and a prominent advocate for religious freedom.

Pastor Janney said he's watched Romney being vetted and noted his marriage of 42 years, five children and 16 grandchildren: "When I look at his life I'm not concerned about being embarrassed or distracted by his personal issues."

Weldon said he was one of the members of congress who tried to oust Gingrich as U.S. House Speaker. "With Newt it was kind of like every day we didn't know what he was gonna say, we didn't know what he was going to be doing, he was just a little bit unpredictable," Weldon said. "It worries me the idea of him being in the oval office."

...

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, former leader of the Christian Coalition of Florida, also spoke on the call, saying Romney "shares our Christian values and will protect our religious freedom."

"When your choosing a leader it's about integrity. The hardest thing to maintain in any leader is those essential qualities of humility and purity. ... I'm very concerned about Newt Gingrich on that front." Baxley called Gingrich "very arrogant on his moral failure - calling the press despicable for covering him instead of humbly seeking the forgiveness of his former wife and others for his own despicable behavior."

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