Kelly Shackelford

More Proof That Religious Right Myths Never Die

Back before the holiday break, we noted that just because some right-wing tale of supposed anti-Christian persecution happened to be totally false, that would never stop the Religious Right from repeating it endlessly, as they have been doing with the saga of Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who claims he was relieved of duty for disagreeing with a lesbian commander over the issue of gay marriage.

As we noted last time, a military investigation found Monk's claims to be baseless ... which means that David Barton and friends are just going to keep on repeating them time and again, as he did on his radio program last week where he took it all a step further and claimed that Monk's lesbian commander "read him his Miranda Rights ... for not affirming homosexuality ... For refusing to affirm openly homosexuality and gay marriage, she gets him demoted and gets him knocked off his post and they read him his Miranda Rights telling him that a criminal investigation is now under way":

Barton and the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford made the same claim when Barton guest-hosted Glenn Beck's television program last week as well, adding, for good measure, that if members of the military are not allowed to be open about their Christian faith "we'll end up with Hitler's SS":

What neither Barton nor Shackleford bother to mention is that Monk was, in fact, read his Miranda Rights during the investigation because he was suspected of lying about the entire thing, which is a violation Uniform Code of Military Justice.

As the Air Force stated upon completion of its investigation, Monk did indeed make false statements about what happened, but "they did not rise to a level that violated Articles 107 and/or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice":

The investigation, initiated Aug. 15 by Col. Mark Camerer, 37th Training Wing commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, found the claim unsubstantiated. The investigation also looked into whether Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk made false official statements. It concluded statements he made were false; however, they did not rise to a level that violated Articles 107 and/or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Monk asserted through interviews with several national media outlets that he was improperly removed from his position as first sergeant of the 326th Training Squadron at Lackland because he did not agree with his commander’s position on same-sex marriage.

“I felt the need to conduct a thorough review to ensure no Air Force policies were violated, and the investigating officer provided that,” Camerer said. “Ultimately I wanted to be sure all facts were collected so we could determine if there was merit to the sergeant’s statements.”

The investigation concluded Monk was not removed from his position, but rather moved, as scheduled, to another Lackland unit, an assignment he was notified of in April 2013. The report stated Monk never voiced a religious or moral objection about same sex marriage to his commander.

“The weight of the evidence shows that religion was never discussed between the two,” Camerer said. “In the end, this is a case about command authority, good order and discipline, and civil rights—not religious freedoms.”

Monk was read his Miranda Rights because he was accused of lying about being the victim of anti-Christian persecution which never happened. But, for the Religious Right, this is now being held up as proof that he was the victim of anti-Christian persecution.

Joni Lamb: America is a Christian Nation and if You Don't Like it, 'You Shouldn't Live Here'

Recently, Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute appeared on the Christian television program "Joni" along with David Barton to discuss the report that Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America."

During the discussion, Shackelford mentioned a legal fight that took place in Texas last year over a high-school valedictorian who wanted to say a prayer during her graduation speech.  The student ultimately won the right to do so, which prompted host Joni Lamb to declare it a victory for free speech, saying "that if you live in America and you understand that we are a Christian society then you can't be offended by things like that or you shouldn't live here": 

Barton Blames PFAW and Others for Creating 'Toxic" Environment Responsible for Christian Persecution

In August, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council released a joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which purported to be a "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America" ... but, for some reason, the incident they love to cite more than any other is a nearly twenty year old myth about an elementary school student who was supposedly yanked out of his seat and yelled at simply for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria.

In reality, the student was disciplined for fighting in the lunch room in 1994 but the Religious Right continues to perpetuate this lie to this day. In fact, David Barton cites it repeatedly despite the fact that it is demonstrably false, and did so again today on "WallBuilders Live," as did the Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford, who was on the program to promote the report:

Barton: What does it say to that elementary kid who got jerked out of his seat and hauled to the principle's office in front of everybody else and told don't you ever pray over your lunch again, period? What kind of impression is that giving? Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me" and we're doing our best to say "absolutely no way, absolutely not will we ever allow any kid to get to you" ... this is crazy stuff.

Shackelford: It's all the way from a ten-year old boy who was quote "caught" praying over his meal in the lunch cafeteria who was lifted out of his chair and carried to the principle's office where he was told to never do that again while he was at school.

Even though this incident never actually happened, Barton sees it as proof that we at PFAW and other groups have created a "toxic" and "hostile" environment in which public officials are pressured into persecuting Christians:

Barton: And I really blame this climate on the secular groups, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Americans United, the People For the American Way, the Military Freedom Foundation, all these guys who have so made the climate so toxic that if you share your faith, public officials feel like they have to come down on you with both feet otherwise they'll get sued and end up in court and have to spend millions of dollars defending something religions. And so these guys have created such a hostility in the public that now public officials and school officials and city council officials and those who run senior's centers and everything else are so scared to death of seeing faith that if they see it, they feel like they have to jump on it with both feet and both hands and bring out the hammers and run over you with a car and pull out a chainsaw and cut you to pieces. They over-react and I really blame a lot of those organizations. 

Raymond Raines and the Religious Right: The Myth That Will Not Die

Yesterday Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a new website and joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which is billed as "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America."

And you can tell from the introduction just how trustworthy this report truly is:

The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only “freedom of worship.” This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom “only within four walls.” That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church, or synagogue, but when you enter the public square the message is, “leave your religion at home.” President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly echoed this same message in international forums, acknowledging only a right to the “freedom of worship.” This is no accident, and it has huge ramifications.

This claim that Obama is systematically undermining "freedom of religion" seems to be one of the Religious Right's favorite claims ... which, of course, means that it is not true at all.

The report itself consists of 100+ pages of  short descriptions of seemingly every court case along with the various urban legends that the Religious Right trots out whenever they are trying to play the victim.  In fact, this one from the Executive Summary caught my eye:

A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

That sounded a lot like the story of Raymond Raines and, sure enough, on page 74 we find this:

Elementary School Student Punished for Praying Before Meals
Joan Little, “City Schools Issue Rules About Students, Religion,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 1996, at 2B

Elementary school student Raymond Raines was “caught” praying over his meal at his elementary school. He was lifted from his seat and reprimanded in front of all the other students, then taken to the principal who ordered him to cease praying in school.

As we noted just a few months ago, this myth has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders first started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:

The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.

"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.

On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

This incident took place nearly twenty years ago and the Religious Right is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America despite the fact that it never happened.

Kelly Shackelford Warns Health Care Reform is the First Sign of a 'Government that is Totalitarian'

Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackelford appeared on Today’s Issues yesterday with Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon to discuss Missouri’s Amendment 2, the so-called “right to pray” amendment which may allow students to refuse to study any topic they deem to conflict with their religious beliefs, like evolution. Schakelford said the amendment was needed “to really bring their state back to full religious freedom like we had in this country until a decision about twenty to thirty years ago that came down from the Supreme Court.”

While Shackelford did not say which Supreme Court case apparently curtailed the freedom of religion, saying that we had “full religious freedom” only until two decades ago ignores periods in American history when the people of minority faiths and even certain Christian denominations sometimes faced hostility from the state. Ironically, Shackelford was speaking to the leader of the American Family Association, whose own Director of Issues Analysis wants to ban mosques, bar Muslims from the military, deport Muslim-Americans and convert all immigrants to Christianity. He went on to say that the health care reform law is creating a “totalitarian” government that undermines the freedom of religion.

What we did is we came up with the idea that states need to go and pass religious freedom amendments to really bring their state back to full religious freedom like we had in this country until a decision about twenty to thirty years ago that came down from the Supreme Court. And a number of states have started to present those and pass those. It’s like the atomic bomb to the left because we noticed anything they’re after, the thing they can’t handle is religious freedom. I mean whether it’s Obamacare or anything else, when the government wants to take over everything they can’t handle religious freedom because that means people are actually going to be able to stick with their own religious conscience, express their own religious beliefs and that kind of lack of unanimity for the state is something they can’t allow.



You know a government that is totalitarian, the one thing it will never allow is citizens who have allegiance to one higher than the government. So you will see as soon as the government takes over something the first thing that will have to go is religious freedom. Obamacare is a great example; as soon as we have it what do we have right after that, the HHS regulations. When the government is trying to touch its citizens directly and it has what it thinks is a good and noble cause it will not allow anyone to get in the way, including intermediary institutions like the church.

Religious Right Unites Behind '40 Days to Save America' Initiative

In March, Kyle reported that Rick Scarborough of Vision America was launching a new effort, 40 Days to Save America, to rally conservative voters before the November election and stop the “daily deluge of sinful activity”:

We fully understand and are grateful for the fact that America was birthed first in your heart. We acknowledge that America has been a blessed nation above all the nations of the world. Hallelujah!

But we also acknowledge that we have forgotten as a people that it was you and your laws that made this country the land of freedom and opportunity that has been the envy of the world for more than two hundred years. Dear Lord, forgive us of our pride and apathy that has allowed men to call good, evil; and evil, good. We acknowledge that we have grown calloused to the daily deluge of sinful activity, degradation and speaking that has become the routine in American life, and we repent.

Reignite our love for purity and holiness, and create in us a will to initiate the changes in our society that will allow you to once again bless our beloved America.

Scarborough is now unveiling endorsements of the effort from Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Todd Akin, Doug Lamborn, Duncan Hunter and Louie Gohmert, and major Religious Right groups like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Family Research Council. Dominionist organizations including Lou Engle’s The Call and Cindy Jacobs’ Generals International have also signed on, along with Janet Porter’s Faith2Action, Jerry Boykin’s Kingdom Warriors, Sam Roriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Jim Garlow’s Renewing American Leadership.

The board of directors appears to be a who’s who of leading conservative activists and pastors:

David Bereit
40 Days for Life

General Jerry Boykin
Kingdom Warriors

Dave Butts
Harvest Prayer Ministries

Dr. Jim Garlow
Renewing American Leadership

Bishop Anne Gimenez
Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA

Bishop Harry Jackson
Hope Christian Church

Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX

Penny Nance
Concerned Women for America

Father Frank Pavone
Priests for Life

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Dr. Rick Scarborough
Vision America

Kelly Shackelford
Liberty Institute

Mat Staver
Liberty Counsel

Tim Wildmon
American Family Association

Conservative Activists Liken IRS Rules on Churches to Nazi Germany

Religious Right activists continuously claim that a wide majority of Americans share their ultraconservative views but are too politically apathetic or confused to act on their beliefs, frequently blaming the IRS for supposedly “silencing” pastors by maintaining a rule that would take away a church’s tax-exempt status if it endorses candidates. This week, Truth in Action Ministries unveiled a film on Truth that Transforms featuring host Jerry Newcombe, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Liberty Institute’s Kelly Shackelford and author Bill Federer, along with a petition “to repeal the ban on church free speech.”

“How does Satan always work?” Shackelford asked. “False information, intimidation and fear, and that’s what’s happening here.” Later, Federer said that “horrible things can and unfortunately will happen” as a result of the IRS rule, while the film showed images of Adolf Hitler delivering a speech and the corpses of Holocaust victims.

Watch:

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