Ken Blackwell

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement

Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America  specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.

Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody that there is a "real risk" that preachers will be hauled off to jail for preaching against homosexuality, recycling an old and equally ludicrous charge that hate crimes laws would result in pastors being dragged from the pulpit.

Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response." But he adds: "The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.

Cruz is lying. And he has lots of company promoting the Houston hype. Todd Starnes of Fox News charged, "There is a war over religious liberty in Houston, Texas." The Family Research Council's Ken Blackwell said it smacked of totalitarianism and said it suggested that it was "a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country" who think "America is evil." Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared, "This is how religious liberty dies."

As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It's not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.

So what is the real story?

The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city's new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.

Here's the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.

On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it's entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right's lawsuit. That's how our legal system works.

It's terribly inconvenient to the Religious Right's narrative that progressive religious leaders are among those who have criticized the Houston attorneys' subpoena. Among those who criticized the city's subpoena as troubling and overly intrusive were supporters of LGBT equality and church-state separation. Baptists of all stripes weighed in. Both progressive religious leaders and atheists publicly agreed. Even the ACLU! So much for the supposed enemies of religious freedom.

Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston's, and America's, LGBT citizens.

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post. 

FRC's Ken Blackwell: Houston Pastor Subpoenas Stem From 'Domestic Version Of The Terrorists Outside Our Country'

The Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell, formerly the secretary of state of Ohio, was a guest on FRC’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday, where the exclusive topic was, of course, the subpoenas of a number of pastors in Houston.

“There are two things throughout human history that welfare states, totalitarian states, utilitarian states have done to maintain their control and to force their worldview on all who are under their governance, and that is they have destroyed the family and they have silenced the church,” Blackwell told guest host Craig James.

The Houston subpoenas, he said, are part of “the big welfare state’s attempt to silence the church, to marginalize the church, to silence Christians so that they can actually concentrate power on reshaping not only their cities, their towns, their states, but also the country.”

He then urged Christians to speak out or else “buy into a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country” who think “America is evil.”

Conservative Christians must fight back against the “political powers that ride roughshod over us when we relegate ourselves to the sidelines and fall into silence in the face of this sort of abuse of power and cultural attack on what has made us not only the freest country in all of human history, the most prosperous country in all of human history, but has also made us the most diverse country in all of human history,” he said. “So for folks to buy into this ‘blame America first,’ ‘America is evil,’ to buy into a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country is ridiculous and cannot stand.”

Elsewhere in the program, Blackwell called the subpoenas “a blatant attempt to criminalize Christianity” and alleged that city officials are “engaging in a good, old-fashioned inquisition.”

“Just as the inquisition of old, it wasn’t arrested until good people overtook evil,” he added.

Becket Fund Pretends It's Not Fighting The Culture Wars

Politico is up with a profile of the Becket Fund, one of the Religious Right legal groups that has pushed, via Hobby Lobby and related cases, to expand the definition of “religious liberty” to allow corporations and individuals as well as religious institutions to opt out of laws they say violate their religious beliefs.

The article by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux quotes Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell saying nice things about Becket, but it doesn’t mention that Becket steered $1.6 million to Stanford and McConnell for a religious liberty law clinic that opened at the school last year.

In Politico, McConnell attributes to Becket the idea that religious freedom “is not – in most contexts – a culture war issue.” At a forum on religious liberty at the Newseum last year, Becket’s Mark Rienzi also suggested that religious liberty is not a culture war issue.

In reality, redefining “religious liberty” has become the central culture war issue and the primary legal and public relations strategy chosen by conservative evangelicals and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy to resist the advance of LGBT equality and restrict women’s access to reproductive care. Becket is at the center of this strategy. A corollary strategy is portraying Christians in America as the victims of religious persecution; Becket lawyers appear in Rick Santorum’s latest movie, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.”

While it is true that support for religious freedom crosses political and religious lines, and it is admirable that Becket, unlike some other Religious Right legal groups, defends the freedom of religious minorities as well as conservative Christians, it is hard to accept with a straight face the idea that Becket’s lawyers are not culture warriors.

Let’s review some of Becket’s culture-war credentials:

  • In addition to Robert George, the intellectual force behind the Manhattan Declaration and the Catholic bishops’ “religious liberty” strategy, Becket’s board includes culture warriors like the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell and right-wing mega-funder Sean Fieler.
  • Earlier this year, Becket celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the Court upheld sectarian prayer at official public meetings and narrowly defined what would amount to unconstitutional religious coercion of people attending those meetings. Becket signaled that it hoped the decision would lead to the further dismantling of court rulings that uphold church-state separation.
  • Last year a Becket blog post about a legal victory for a Colorado voucher program that diverts public education funds to religious schools was headlined “Needy Kids 1, Anti-Catholic Bigots 0.”
  • In the fall of 2012, Becket co-sponsored an event for the Manhattan Declaration — itself a call to the culture-war barricades. According to an admiring report by Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, Becket President William Mumma “noted that in today’s culture wars ‘religion is not an accidental victim, it is the target’ for radical secularists. ‘When government tries to murder religion it may murder religious liberty but not religion,’ he promised, as faith will survive amid persecution.”
  • Becket’s executive director Kristina Arriaga joined hard-core culture warriors in supporting the Pray and A.C.T. group created by dominionist Lou Engle in advance of the 2010 elections.
  • In 2008 Becket ran a full-page ad in the New York Times charging that anti-Prop 8 protesters were “thugs” engaged in a “religious war” of violence and intimidation against the Mormon church; founder Kevin “Seamus” Hasson responded to criticism with a comparison of “radical secularist” Prop 8 protestors to radical Islamist terrorists.

Winners of Becket’s Canterbury Medal over the past decade include Robert George; ultraconservative Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who has waged what a local columnist called a “war on Obama” over the HHS mandate; Eric Mataxas, the author whose 2012 prayer breakfast speech delighted right-wing activists with its thinly veiled attacks on President Obama’s faith; and Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, a strong defender of the LDS Church’s anti-equality efforts.

One more quibble with the Politico story: its headline – “God’s Rottweilers” – does give a sense of the group’s intensity, but it also implies that Becket is working for God. Media coverage all too often portrays culture war issues as a struggle between religious people and “radical secularists” when in fact there are also many religious individuals and organizations actively opposed to the Religious Right’s agendas on LGBT equality, women’s access to reproductive care, and the relationship between church and state.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/16/14

• Right-wing leaders including Jenny Beth Martin, Tony Perkins, Richard Viguerie and Ken Blackwell are urging RNC chairman Reince Priebus to investigate the Mississippi runoff election.

• Hazelton, Pennsylvania, may be on the hook for millions more dollars for its failed anti-immigrant policy.

• The Pew Research Center is out with new findings on the “feelings that members of America’s religious groups have about one another.”

• Tony Perkins says “President Obama has put the demands of this 3% [of LGBT people] before the entire nation and its interests.”

• Finally, Laurie Higgins urges parents to “flee from public school pornogogues pronto.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/30/14

Paranoia-Rama: End Of The First Amendment, Liberals Promoting Child Rape, Gay Marriage To Blame For Shooting

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

As the Radical Right continues its never-ending quest to stoop to new lows, this week conservative activists and Republican politicians claimed that progressives are sanctioning rape, planning to scrap the First Amendment and causing mass shootings by supporting marriage equality.

5) First Amendment About To Be Repealed

It seems that Ted Cruz isn’t even trying to pretend that he is anything more than a shameless con artist. The Texas senator told a summit of Religious Right pastors this week that “Senate Democrats are going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the First Amendment” as part of their plan to “muzzle” pastors who “speak the truth.”

Cruz’s audience gasped in surprise at this bombshell announcement. It seems they hadn’t heard of this diabolical plan before – perhaps because it doesn’t exist.

It turns out that Cruz was referring to a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and related decisions such as this year’s McCutcheon ruling. The amendment seeks to restore to Congress and state legislatures the authority to reduce the role of unchecked and often undisclosed campaign donations from corporations and wealthy individuals.

But Cruz blatantly misrepresented these efforts to claim that Senate leaders are “repealing the First Amendment” because they want to quash the church and “don’t like it when the citizenry in their community has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done.”

4) Immigration Reform All About Hating America

Rush Limbaugh has a new theory that he hopes will incite conservative opposition to immigration reform: Democrats support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants because they hate America, hope to demonize the country and “undermine, sabotage if you will, elements of this nation’s founding.”

3. Liberals Want To Rape Your Kids

“Dr. Chaps” Gordon Klingenschmitt has a history of sending out insanely anti-LGBT screeds to members of his Religious Right group, Pray In Jesus Name, and this week no was no different.

Klingenschmitt, a Republican candidate for the Colorado House, warned members that liberals want to “rape” children by defending the rights of LGBT students: “‘Transgenders’ want your children. Liberals demand public access to rape your girls, at least visually in public bathrooms, or to expose themselves to your girls at school, without parental consent or protection of any kind.”

This latest rant should come as no surprise, as Klingenschmitt once accused a same-sex couple of looking at their infant with “lust” and speculated that gay people have “something unhman inside of them.”

2. Houston Promoting Violence Against Women

Despite the attempts of anti-LGBT activists  to derail an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston, the city council approved the measure this week in an 11-6 vote.

Opponents of the nondiscrimination measure waged a nasty campaign linking the ordinance to Satanchild abuseassault and rape.

As always, conservatives pushed false claims about purported negative effects of nondiscrimination laws on religious freedom, with Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values warning that “these laws will be used as a weapon to actually run over people’s religious liberty rights” and Mike Huckabee suggesting that “this ordinance will take away your rights to live what you believe.”

1. Isla Vista Shooting: Blame Gay Marriage

It was only a matter of time until right-wing pundits blamed women’s rights advocates for the Isla Vista shooting spree by Elliot Rodger, who said he was driven by his hatred of women.

Media Matters points out that Fox News contributor Erick Erickson connected Rodger’s actions to the purported “war on masculinity” and gender equality, while another network commentator accused women tweeting under the #YesAllWomen hashtag of “man-hating.”

Glenn Beck similarly mocked women posting under #YesAllWomen for “man-bashing.”

But the Right also returned to one of their favorite targets: gay people.

Another Fox News guest, Dr. Robi Ludwig, alleged that Rodger was motivated by repressed “homosexual impulses.”

She wasn’t the only one to link the shooting to homosexuality: Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council connected Rodger’s massacre to gay marriage. Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state and GOP gubernatorial candidate, also serves on the board of the National Rifle Association.

Family Research Council Spokesman Links Isla Vista Shooting Spree To Gay Marriage

Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell yesterday linked the Isla Vista mass killings to marriage equality laws, which he claimed are destroying the culture. Speaking with FRC president Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch,” Blackwell blamed the shooting on “the crumbling of the moral foundation of the country” and “the attack on natural marriage and the family.”

“When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned, you get what we are now seeing,” Blackwell said, arguing that people who are “blaming the Second Amendment” are “avoiding talking about what is at the root cause of the problem.”

Blackwell has previously described marriage equality advocates as “opponents of natural marriage.”

Terrible Republican Secretary Of State Seeks Same

A Wall Street Journal story last week on a new set of PACs seeking to influence secretary of state races reported that the new conservative PAC, SOS for SOS, will be led by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

"We are no longer going to let the left decide the size and dimensions of the playing field," Blackwell told WSJ.

It wasn’t long ago that Blackwell himself was deciding the size and dimensions of the electoral playing field in Ohio by, among other things, dictating the size and dimensions and paper stock of mail-in voter registration cards.

Leading up to the 2004 elections, Blackwell became notorious for administering elections rules that made it a lot harder to vote. The most colorful of these was a last-minute regulation on the size and paper quality of printed voter registration cards. Rolling Stone explained:

To further monkey-wrench the process he was bound by law to safeguard, Blackwell cited an arcane elections regulation to make it harder to register new voters. In a now-infamous decree, Blackwell announced on September 7th -- less than a month before the filing deadline -- that election officials would process registration forms only if they were printed on eighty-pound unwaxed white paper stock, similar to a typical postcard. Justifying his decision to ROLLING STONE, Blackwell portrayed it as an attempt to protect voters: ''The postal service had recommended to us that we establish a heavy enough paper-weight standard that we not disenfranchise voters by having their registration form damaged by postal equipment.'' Yet Blackwell's order also applied to registrations delivered in person to election offices. He further specified that any valid registration cards printed on lesser paper stock that miraculously survived the shredding gauntlet at the post office were not to be processed; instead, they were to be treated as applications for a registration form, requiring election boards to send out a brand-new card.

Blackwell's directive clearly violated the Voting Rights Act, which stipulates that no one may be denied the right to vote because of a registration error that ''is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under state law to vote.'' The decision immediately threw registration efforts into chaos. Local newspapers that had printed registration forms in their pages saw their efforts invalidated. Delaware County posted a notice online saying it could no longer accept its own registration forms. Even Blackwell couldn't follow the protocol: The Columbus Dispatch reported that his own staff distributed registration forms on lighter-weight paper that was illegal under his rule. Under the threat of court action, Blackwell ultimately revoked his order on September 28th -- six days before the registration deadline.

Other Blackwell projects in the lead-up to the 2004 election included making it harder to cast a provisional ballot and keeping urban precincts low on electronic voting machines, resulting in long lines. A report from Democratic Rep. John Conyers found that “actions by Mr. Blackwell, the Republican Party, and elections officials, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens, predominantly Minority and Democratic voters.”

Blackwell’s partisan bent was never a secret. After losing his campaign to be Ohio’s governor in 2006, he moved on to work for the Family Research Council and tried to angle himself into the job of chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In other words, Blackwell is the perfect person to lead the Right’s new effort to elect Republican secretary of state candidates in the mold of Kansas’ Kris Kobach, who see their jobs not as encouraging and facilitating voting, but making it harder...especially for certain Democratic-leaning constituencies.

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.

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/6/14

FRC Finds 'Disturbing' Democratic Conspiracy To Win Elections In Texas

The Family Research Council is deeply troubled that Democrats have the gall to try to win elections in the state of Texas. On Washington Watch yesterday, FRC senior fellow Kenneth Blackwell said that President Obama is “trying to keep the border of Texas very open and porous” to allow undocumented immigrants to enter the state so they can vote Democratic, even though they are not US citizens and therefore cannot vote.

Blackwell even tied this “very disturbing” Democratic conspiracy to the lawsuit against the Texas voter ID law, a measure that would bar the 1.4 million Texas voters who lack a photo ID from voting.

“There’s a confluence of events and activities that taken as a group paints a very disturbing picture,” Blackwell told host Tony Perkins.

“Think about Texas and think about how the left is now trying to keep the border of Texas very open and porous and so you look at the number of illegals who are crossing the lines and now you have folks trying to make it easier—they’re fighting Texas in court to make voter ID illegal in Texas -- all of the sudden you see non-registered, non-legal citizens coming over the border, you see this effort by field organizers to get data on folks, making it very easy for them to mobilize those voters on Election Day.”

Of course, Blackwell’s argument is completely bogus. The Texas voter ID law would do extremely little to curtail voter fraud. The Dallas Morning News found last year that of the mere 66 people in Texas charged with voting irregularities since 2004, just “four cases involved someone illegally casting a ballot at a polling place where a picture ID would have prevented it.”

Blackwell also made a patently false claim about Obama’s handling of the US-Mexico border, as the number of border patrol agents on the southern border has grown to record highs since Obama came into office:

Right Wing Leftovers - 2/18/14

  • Apparently, some people actually believe that "Ayn Rand's libertarian hero John Galt was unintentionally modeled on Jesus Christ."
  • FRC's Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison ask the reasonable question "What if Obama Is a Marxist?"
  • "Coach" Dave Daubenmire is really just becoming a parody of every right-wing stereotype.
  • Matt Barber says gay activists are using judges to pit "the government directly against Christians, against the free exercise of religion and against those who embrace marriage reality."
  • Finally, Glenn Beck delivers another one of his patented ultra-serious, incoherent, stream-of-consciousness monologues that makes no sense:

FRC Preposterously Blames 'Left-Wing Extremists' For Most 'Incidents Of Domestic Terrorism In This Country'

Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council are attacking the Obama administration over a Ohio National Guard training drill last month that simulated a threat from “two school employees who are disgruntled over the government’s interpretation of the Second Amendment.”

News of the drill started circulating in conservative media this week, feeding anti-Obama paranoia (even though last year’s drill simulated a threat from a radical environmentalists).

On yesterday’s edition of Washington Watch, Blackwell and Perkins said that the drill must have been the idea of the federal government, and argued that there is no reason at all to fear any danger from right-wing extremists. “When you look back at incidents of domestic terrorism in this country, it’s not done by right-wing, conservative people or organizations, it’s done by left-wing extremists,” Perkins said. Blackwell concurred: “Absolutely, that’s been the factual history of domestic terrorist attacks and efforts.”

That is completely false, of course.

The nonpartisan New America Foundation found that the pool of “‘non-jihadist’ terrorists” is “overwhelmingly made up of right-wing extremists.” The Director of Terrorism Studies at the West Point-based Combatting Terrorism Center found attacks by right-wing extremists up “more than 400%” since 2000.

John Tirman of the MIT Center for International Studies notes that in “the START database on terrorism in America,” from “1990 to 2009, START identified 275 ‘homicide events’ that killed 520 people and were committed by right-wing ideologues. There were many more incidents of destruction of property, nonfatal attacks, and other acts of thuggery by white supremacists, private militias, and the like.”

“Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists, as compared to 30 percent by ecoterrorists and 12 percent by Islamic extremists,” writes Ken Sofer. “Right-wing extremism has been responsible for the greatest number of terrorist incidents in the U.S. in 13 of the 17 years since the Oklahoma City bombing.”

Since Perkins and Blackwell were already just making things up, why not one more? The two FRC leaders proceeded to accuse the Southern Poverty Law Center of being listed on “the domestic terrorism list. ”

“It’s not conservatives,” Perkins said. “If it were conservatives who were doing that kind of stuff we would never hear the end of it.”

Right Wing Leftovers - 12/5/13

  • Ted Cruz stands by his father's statement comparing President Obama to Fidel Castro.
  • Ted Cruz is also standing by ALEC.
  • Looks like Peter LaBarbera is taking his anti-gay activism to Jamaica.
  • Ken Blackwell says new IRS regulations are designed to limit "how much groups can speak about Obama's policies or promote alternative policies about healthcare, free markets, traditional values, or national defense."
  • Finally, FRC continues to pray against Obamacare: "May God stir his people and quiet Americans who know this is wrong, to pray and act! May His praying people recognize how truly dangerous this law is! May they boldly pray and recruit others to pray for the law's repeal by the merciful Hand of God! May He move upon our High Court to rule decisively for religious liberty. May God-fearing men and women win House and Senate seats in November 2014, and public offices across America. May God send us the Christian revival we so desperately need!"

Tony Perkins Attacks Obama For Quoting Lincoln

To commemorate the 150thanniversary of the Gettysburg Address on Wednesday, famed filmmaker Ken Burns asked President Obama read aloud Abraham Lincoln’s first draft of the speech. But things aren’t always as they seem! Immediately after Burns’ video was released, we learned from the right-wing media that because Lincoln’s initial speech — the one that Burns asked Obama to read — did not contain the word “God,” that Obama must have somehow traveled back in time to edit the word out of the speech himself.

Count the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell among the right-wing activists who have become apoplectic over Obama’s reading of Lincoln’s speech and are badly misreporting the non-omission.

On Wednesday’s edition of Washington Watch, Blackwell said that Obama’s reading was all part of a plan to expand government. Perkins accused Obama of “editing historical texts to remove God” and even cited the bogus claim that Obama consistently removes “endowed by their Creator” out of the Declaration of Independence.

Later in the program, Perkins said, “It really reminds me of the Old Testament Israel. What really brought Judea down, they were the remaining portion of the Jewish people: their failure to acknowledge God. They forgot Him and that is what I think we see happening before our very eyes.”

FRC Cites Bogus George Washington Story To Promote Christian Nationalism

The Family Research Council is outraged that the Air Force Academy has made it optional to say “So help me God” in its honor oath, claiming that the new policy is discriminatory against religious cadets…even though anyone can still say the phrase. On his radio program today, Tony Perkins of FRC said that the new policy is disrespectful of George Washington:

Who's running the United States Air Force: General Mark Welsh or Mikey Weinstein? Hello, this is Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. Anti-Christian crusader Mikey Weinstein recently probed the Air Force Academy. The Air Force Academy Superintendent responded in 68 minutes, when he marked down his objections to the phrase, "So help me God," contained in the Academy honor code. Weinstein has been trying to drive Evangelicals out of the Academy for over a decade. During the tenure of one Superintendent, he boasted that he had a bath code that immediately connected him with the Academy boss. His complaint this time was a poster that included the honor oath with the phrase, "So help me God." Lieutenant General Michelle Johnson said the oath is being reviewed because the Academy values an inclusive environment that promotes dignity and respect for all. Really? Does that include those like General George Washington who initiated the phrase, "So help me God," or does that inclusion only make room for those who want to dismantle America's Christian heritage?

On the same note, FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell cited Washington as a reason to keep the phrase a requirement:

Let's see: Why is that phrase so offensive? George Washington was a pretty successful general. And he took the oath as our first President in New York City on April 30, 1789.

When Chancellor Livingston swore Washington in as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, Washington added four words to the Constitutionally prescribed oath:

So Help Me God

Question for Mikey and Murfs: If George Washington could add those four words, and if every President since could add those four words, why should they offend an Air Force Academy cadet?

But as George Mason University history professor Peter Henriques writes, the story about Washington is most certainly a myth. In fact, James Madison excluded the words “So help me God” while working on a committee drafting an oath bill.

There is absolutely no extant contemporary evidence that President Washington altered the language of the oath as laid down in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A long letter by the French foreign minister Comte de Moustier, who attended the ceremony, repeated the oath verbatim and did not include the additional words. Apparently, it was not until 65 years after the event that the story that Washington added this phrase first appeared in a published volume. In his book, The Republican Court, Rufus Griswold cited a childhood memory of Washington Irving as his source. It took another 27 years before the first clearly documented case of a President adding the words, “So help me God,” was recorded — when Chester A. Arthur took the oath in 1881.



Proponents of the myth contend that Washington had expressed no personal objection to saying “So help me God” and had routinely taken such oaths during the colonial era. Perhaps, they contend, he simply added it as an afterthought or because he was caught up in the solemnity and reverence of the moment. While at first glance this is plausible, it seems certain that any such modification of the oath would have created comment at the time that would have survived in the historical record.

The reason for this assertion is at exactly the same time as these inaugural events were unfolding, the first Congress was debating what oath the new members of the new federal government should take so as to comply with the Constitution. Article Six called for an oath but specifically added, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Early arrivals to the House of Representatives had taken an oath that included the words, “So help me God.” But, following the lead of a committee led by James Madison, legislators passed a new oath act on April 27, 1789 — just three days before Washington’s inauguration — that excluded the words “So help me God.” The Senate, after adding unrelated amendments, passed the bill on May 5, 1789. Would the Senate have passed an oath bill without the words, “So help me God,” only five days after the great hero of the American people “solemnly” and “with fervor” added them to his own oath? And do so without any contemporary comment surviving?

Taken together, the complete lack of contemporary evidence, George Washington’s political philosophy of strictly following the Constitution and the concurrent debate over the proper wording of oaths under the new Constitution make it virtually certain that George Washington did not add the words “So help me God” to his inaugural oath.

The New York Times adds:

It’s no surprise, then, that Washington should become the subject of the recent genre of biographical writing that focuses on the machinery of fame and the ways in which it manipulates, ignores, embellishes or distorts the known facts about a famous individual’s life and work. In “Inventing George Washington,” Edward G. Lengel — editor in chief of the Papers of George Washington and a professor at the University of Virginia — says he intends to examine “Washington myths and mythmakers” and trace “the means by which they have defined and redefined the founder from the beginning of the 19th century up to the present day.”

...

In addition, Mr. Lengel says, many efforts have been made to “prove” that Washington added the phrase “so help me God” to the presidential oath of office in 1789, even though “the evidence is against” this argument: “There are no contemporary accounts indicating that Washington said ‘so help me God.’ Indeed, the Comte de Moustier, the French foreign minister, who stood near Washington as he took the oath and recorded it word for word, did not include the phrase in his meticulous account of the event.”

“In sum,” Mr. Lengel argues, “any attempt to prove that Washington added the words ‘so help me God’ requires mental gymnastics of the sort that would do credit to the finest artist of the flying trapeze. How much easier, then, just to assert over and over that it happened without making any attempt to justify it in the historical record and then appeal to it as a ‘tradition’ that must never be broken. Such, at least, has been the approach taken by defenders of this story since its first appearance in 1854, and the results have met their desires. Since Chester Arthur in 1881, presidents have included the words in almost every known oath of office, with greater and lesser degrees of drama. Though atheists, secular humanists and outraged academics occasionally pop up to protest, the tradition has become set in stone.”

Religious Right Self-Victimization In Full Force At Values Voter Summit: Fear Of Christian Concentration Camps, Bishops In Jail

After enjoying Glenn Beck’s speech about supposed anti-Christian persecution by the Nazis, participants at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit attended breakout sessions focusing on how Christians in the U.S. are facing repression under President Obama.

In a breakout session entitled “Standing Up To the Assaults On Our Faith,” Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily alleged that the Obama administration’s supposed persecution of Christians is so bad that it is proof we have entered the Tribulation, a key period in the End Times. Farah cited Pope Benedict’s remarks “seemingly embracing homosexuality [and] seemingly embracing universalism” as further evidence of imminent doom.

Political efforts to curb the arrival of the Last Days are so few and far between, Farah said, that Christians can only rely on prayer. He urged attendees to “harness spiritual weapons that give us the real power.” Specifically, Farah called on people to join his 9/11 prayer initiative, which he hopes will guide their spiritual struggle.

Janet Porter [née Folger] also warned that the End Times are upon us, for which she naturally blamed gay people. She repeated her claim that gay marriage was responsible for Noah’s flood and announced a new project with Liberty University’s Judith Reisman to sue schools that “corrupt minors” with LGBT-inclusive curricula.

Vision America’s Rick Scarborough agreed with their dire assessments, saying that “infidels” now pull the strings of government. According to Scarborough, the Obama administration is “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christian unity, Scarborough feared, “is not going to happen until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”

He also concurred with Porter’s anti-gay rhetoric, telling the audience: “You are not born gay, you are recruited.”

The speakers on a later panel, “Where Do We Go From Here? Challenging Tyranny,” were just as pessimistic.

One person in attendance asked a question about the purported takeover of the legal system by “militant homosexual leftists” while another questioner, who said she was from Nigeria, claimed that the Obama administration is even worse than Nigeria’s former military dictatorship.

Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state now with the Family Research Council, alleged that President Obama, through his supposed abuses of executive power, is giving cover to dictators who hope to undermine the rule of law. He described the President’s actions as a “disservice to humanity.”

Alabama attorney general Luther Strange charged the Obama administration with leading a “direct assault” on religious freedom and claimed that state anti-discrimination laws are inconsistent with the “fundamental fabric of the Constitution.”

Dean Clancy of Freedom Works lamented that the Supreme Court issued “tyrannical” decisions in Roe v. Wade, Lawrence v. Texas and US v. Windsor, accusing the Justices of “imposing [their] radical worldview” on America. To push back against the “tyrants” in “black robes,” he urged conservative activists to push for constitutional amendments to return power to the states.

Both Clancy and co-panelist Terry Jeffrey of CNSNews said that civil disobedience against the Obama administration is on its way.

Jeffrey predicted the imprisonment of Roman Catholic bishops, followed by the laity, under Obama, whom he called an “enemy of our freedom.”

He concluded: “We ought not surrender our souls to Barack Obama.”

Conspiracy Theories for Breakfast at Values Voter Summit

Early this morning, before the official opening of the Values Voter Summit, the Religious Right legal and advocacy group Liberty Counsel hosted “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,” a breakfast panel on threats to the Second Amendment.  On the menu: conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama and the United Nations plotting to disarm Americans, and rhetoric of resistance.

In addition to Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, the speakers were the Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell (also a board member of the National Rifle Association) and gun-rights advocate Jan Morgan, who also appeared at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference earlier this year.

Morgan portrayed a United Nations treaty meant to restrict the illegal international trade in weapons as a UN plot to take Americans’ guns (false), and the Obama administration’s decision to sign the treaty as an ominous step.  Blackwell portrayed the “assault” on the Second Amendment as an assault on the Constitution and on God himself, warning that nations that fall to tyranny or big-government socialism first must destroy the family, silence the church, and disarm their citizens.  The Obama administration, he said, thinks it has replaced God in people’s lives. Asked how Americans should respond to the signing of the treaty, he said, “resist, resist, resist.”

Morgan celebrated the Colorado recall of two state senators who had supported the state’s new gun law, and she praised southern governors who she said are looking to put the “Firearm Freedom Act” into law in their states, which would threaten the arrest and prosecution of federal agents who try to enforce federal gun regulations in their state. She ended with a dramatic call for conservatives to “pull ourselves out of this pity party” and channel the fighting spirit of the founding fathers.

Religious Right Will Cheer Tea Party Extremism at Values Voter Summit

Boehner threatens the global economy w/ default, the Tea Party shutdown continues & a new Supreme Court term could do harm to campaign finance, reproductive choice & church-state separation...perfect week for the Values Voter Summit!

FRC: 'Nothing More Christian' Than Massive Food Stamp Cut

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now with the Family Research Council, said that the House GOP’s massive food stamp cuts that could remove around 4 million people from the program next year was an act of Christian compassion.

While many churches and Christians organizations denounced the move, Blackwell told the Christian Post that there was “nothing more Christian” than kicking low-income families off food stamps. He referred to food aid as part of the “plantation of big government” and said that churches and charitable organization will replace such government assistance.

Of course, the conservative news outlet also quoted Rev. Gary Cook of Bread for the World, who criticized the Republican plan and noted that the work of churches “is worth $4 billion dollars annually, which is essentially equal to the annual cut Congress is proposing in food stamps.”

Rev. Gary Cook, the Director of Church Relations at Christian anti-hunger advocacy group, Bread for the World, has told The Christian Post that he is worried that the latest cuts could further marginalize the most vulnerable, rather than mobilize people back to work.



"The people who take advantage of this are some of the poorest of the poor people in the country," Cook told CP. "Their average annual income is $2200 a person. They are among the most difficult to employee. If the government says our economy works well, when we have five or six percent unemployment, because that's our policy, at least they can eat." But according to Ken Blackwell, who is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the conservative Christian lobbying group, Family Research Council, programs like food stamps prevented people from being truly empowered.

"I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiency…there within lies the path to sense of worthiness," Blackwell told CP. "When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief, that there were times in people's life when they needed a hand up…there were temporariness to hose programs, where they were structured so that they didn't breed so that they didn't breed dependency."

Blackwell also suggested that there was "nothing more Christian" than "not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government."



"America is such a compassionate nation, nothing in history that suggests that churches and communities and our families would let people die of hunger, there is absolutely nothing," said Blackwell.

"We are not lacking in churches in church communities across this nation in making sure that basic human needs are met without creating another government program that establishes rules that have very low expectations for self-discipline," said Blackwell. "I think we should have an honest debate and discussion in the church community…[on a host of social issues] Christians have been in the forefront, without government prodding or dominance."

Cook's biggest worry though, was that the food stamp cuts would offset the thousands of hours and dollars that these very church ministries spend annually supporting their communities through soup kitchens, bread lines, and food pantries.

"What churches do in terms of the kind of generous giving to poor, hungry people is amazing," said Cook. "But their work is worth $4 billion dollars annually, which is essentially equal to the annual cut Congress is proposing in food stamps."
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