Today on The 700 Club, Pat Robertson commended the National Park Service for keeping a statue of Jesus in a Montana park, despite a challenge from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Isn’t it a strange thing that we would allow somebody who doesn’t believe in anything to restrict the freedom of those who do,” he said -- which is ironic since Robertson on a routine basis advocates actual restrictions on religious freedoms for Muslim-Americans. Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, for instance, sued to prevent the construction of the Park 51 Islamic Community Center.
Later, Robertson’s cohost Kristi Watts mockingly asked that since the Wicca religion “believes in the environment and believes that trees are there God,” then “why are these atheists not saying we should cut down every tree because it’s offensive?”
The tea party group Constituting Michigan is bringing a hoaxer who claims to be a former terrorist to Allegan High School in Allegan, Michigan, to warn guests of the danger of creeping sharia law. The speaker, Kamal Saleem, was in Michigan late last year for The Call: Detroit, where he denounced Islam as demonic, and continues to work with the Oak Initiative and its state chapter Transformation Michigan. But Saleem isn’t your usual anti-Muslim speaker, as he claims to have been an Islamic terrorist until he converted to Christianity and found work at Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.
However, Focus on the Family has since distanced itself from Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, and Calvin College professor Doug Howard writes that not only was Saleem misrepresenting Islam with blatant “absurdities” but was also misrepresenting his own background in his book The Blood of Lambs, which Howard called “obsessively, sadistically violent.” “Suffice it to say that if the subject were Jews, this book could not have been published.” CNN also looked into Saleem’s background and found no evidence backing up his claims of having been a terrorist, and Haroon Moghul of Religion Dispatches wonders how anyone who once claimed to be a devout Muslim could claim, like Saleem, to have been “allergic to Jesus” since Muslims consider Jesus the Messiah.
Dawud Walid of CAIR-Michigan pointed out that Saleem is a “complete fraud,” but event organizers say any criticism of Saleem is simply “the result of media bias”:
Allegan County political organization Constituting Michigan-Founding Principles will host a self-proclaimed former terrorist on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Allegan High School Events Center.
Kamal Saleem claims to have been a former Islamic radical and terrorist before converting to Christianity. He has since published a book detailing his experiences and makes regular tours speaking about his life and views.
”He had entered the U.S. and gotten in an accident, and received medical care,” said Carol Dannenberg, of Constituting Michigan-Founding Principles. “He thought, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to hurt these people.’ He was raised to believe that there was no hope, that killing was a good thing.”
”I met Saleem in my travels to Lansing,” said Bill Sage, one of the co-founders of Constituting Michigan. “He’s here to talk about keeping American law in American courts, to make sure that the Constitution is what we’re drawing from.”
Sage characterizes the organization’s main focus as education reform and a return to focusing on the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in schools. Sage will also be speaking at the event, as will state Rep. Dave Agema, according to organizers. Agema is one of the sponsors of House Bill 4769, which seeks “to restrict the application of foreign laws” in Michigan. Opponents have characterized the bill as discriminatory towards Islam.
”He’s profiting off the cottage industry of Islamophobia,” Walid said. “If he thinks that I’m lying, that I’m trying to falsely discredit him, he should sue me for defamation.”
Sage claims much of the controversy surrounding Saleem is the result of media bias.
”People don’t like his message, they don’t want him out there,” said Sage. “But if you listen to Kamal, you’ll understand.”
With reports today that Rick Perry is exiting the presidential race, we thought it was fitting to look back on the efforts to draft Perry into the race and anoint his candidacy. Right Wing Watch closely followed Perry’s claim that he was working to return America to God, whom he claimed sent storms to keep him in Texas and was using the economic crisis to bring America to “bring us back to those biblical principles.”
Last July, Religious Right leaders gathered in Texas to push Perry into the presidential race, hoping the Texas Governor would be the more conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. One month later Perry hosted a prayer rally, The Response, which featured Religious Right leaders like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Jim Garlow, Don Wildmon, Penny Nance, David Barton, and John Hagee, along with New Apostolic Reformation figures such as Mike Bickle, Alice Patterson, Doug Stringer, Cindy Jacobs, and John Benefiel.
Everything was falling into place for Perry, who announced his bid one week after The Response, and Religious Right activists were already talking up Perry’s supernatural gifts. Pat Robertson said that Perry successfully “founded his administration on the Bible,” Jerry Falwell Jr. thought he was the second coming of Ronald Reagan, Tom Schlueter called Perry an answer to his prayer that “one of our political leaders will rise up” to bring the nation back to God and Lou Engle even said that God so approved Perry’s presidential campaign that the day he announced his candidacy God sent rain to Texas to alleviate the state’s drought:
Even ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs got in the mix, saying that Perry’s The Response finally broke the curse of Native American cannibals:
Perry’s campaign also bolstered claims that God was telling him to run for president.
While campaigning in South Carolina, Anita Perry compared her husband to Gideon and said that like with Gideon’s fleece, God was telling Perry to run for president. “God was already speaking to me” but and “other people too,” but Perry only understood the message until he “threw that fleece out there twice to make sure it came back with what he needed to do.”
Perry himself even told Janet Mefferd that “God sends messages through a lot of ways and through a lot of messengers,” who were all telling him to run for president:
This entire, organic buildup of people who’ve basically said for whatever reason we’re not comfortable with the host of people who have come forward who say they want to be the next president of the United States and we look at your record, and we look at you and we want you to this. It’s been an incredible outpouring. I can tell you, that has given me the calmness in my soul that God sends messages through a lot of ways and through a lot of messengers, and I am very calm that the direction that I’m heading is good.
But alas, even though God was purportedly calling on Perry to run for president, Religious Right leaders have abandoned him for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and all Perry could manage were 5th and 6th place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, and one hell of a bad debate performance.
Pat Robertson accused President Obama of being a “dictator” today on The 700 Club for his recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after Senate Republican obstructionism, who refused to confirm anybody to the position. Robertson and other critics claimed that the Senate is actually not in recess because of pro forma sessions, but legal experts and even Republican legal advisers have argued that such appointments are constitutional because pro forma meetings where no work is being done are not the same as a Senate sitting in session. Past presidents have also made such appointments. Robertson, who is certainly not the first Religious Right leader to call Obama a dictator, said that Obama “is power-hungry and he wants to take it all,” lamenting, “I didn’t know we were electing a dictator.”
Robertson: I didn’t know we were electing a dictator, I thought we were electing a president who had constitutional powers, and we have shared governmental responsibility between the Senate and the House and the courts and the president, and that division has worked very well in our history. So suddenly you’ve got somebody who is power-hungry and he wants to take it all. There’s no question there’s got to be a challenge to this.
Last year, Pat Robertson claimed God told him that America’s future will be bleak because of debt and divisions, and today on The 700 Club said that God again communicated to him that financial problems and partisan politics are going to bring America into decline. Unsurprisingly, Robertson said God is no fan of President Obama: “Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority, expect chaos and paralysis.” Robertson claimed that the country would be devastated by an “economic collapse” and “the country will begin disintegrating.” He also claimed that God revealed to him who the next president will be, but that he is “not supposed to talk about that.”
I spent the better part of a week in prayer and just saying, ‘God show me something,’ some things I’ll share with you. I think he showed me the next me the next president but I’m not supposed to talk about that so I’ll leave you in the dark—probably just as well—I think I’ll know who it will be. I’m going to read just as I wrote down as if I’m hearing from the Lord these words.
Your country will be torn apart by internal stress, a house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority, expect chaos and paralysis. Your president holds a view that is at odds with the majority, it’s a radical view of the future of this country, so that’s why we’re having this division. This is a spiritual battle which can only be won by overwhelming prayer. The future of the world is at stake because if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world. There must be an urgent call to prayer. The Lord said, a time of maximum stress and peril, greater than at any time since the CBN ministry began. This country will begin disintegrating.
I started thinking, when did we start this place? We started CBN in 1960, you think of all the things that went on, you had the assassination of the president, assassination of Martin Luther King, you’ve got a war in Vietnam, you’ve got all these things, He is saying you will have worse stress than before. So I’m saying, God, let me give you some suggestions and you tell me if any of them is right, pick one. I said, is it an EMP blast? No that isn’t it. Is it a cosmic or solar or radiation blast? No. Is it Mayan galaxy alignment? No. Is it Iranian or North Korean nuclear threat? No. Is it an earthquake or a volcano? No. Is it a massive power failure? No. What is it? It’s an economic collapse. And God said, This is not my judgment, they are bringing it upon themselves.
With the end of the year approaching, we decided to take a look back through the hundreds of videos we had posted this year and highlight twelve of our favorites from the past twelve months.
Here are our choices, in chronological order:
Newt Gingrich appeared on Monday’s program of WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green, where Gingrich once again praised Barton’s right-wing pseudo-history and activism. In fact, Gingrich gave Barton credit for helping him develop his plan to assault the “judicial dictatorship” if elected president. He told Barton and Green that his plan is sending shockwaves through the “the secular left, which has been using the courts to replace the America we grew up in” by legalizing abortion, “driving God out of public life” and making same-sex marriages become “legitimized as if they were the same between traditional marriage between a man and a woman.”
Gingrich added that he would appoint judges in the mold of Robert George, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and a drafter of the Manhattan Declaration who has called people to defy Supreme Court decisions on issues like marriage that they disagree with, and graduates of Regent University and Liberty University, the schools founded by the far-right televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, respectively. Regent University absorbed the Oral Roberts University law program and teaches conservative Christian interpretations of the law, and the Liberty University School of Law even pressured students to disobey U.S. law if it conflicts with what they believe is “God’s law” in situations such as the Lisa Miller kidnapping case. Gingrich also pointed to the right-wing Federalist Society as a source for judicial appointments
Gingrich: What you have is, the secular left, which has been using the courts to replace the America we grew up in, the secular left which is desperately committed to Roe v. Wade and abortion, desperately committed to marriage between same-sex couples becoming legitimized as if they were the same between traditional marriage between a man and a woman, desperately committed to driving God out of public life, and they are suddenly faced with the possibility that we the people are going to take back our authority, that we are going to take back our rights, that we are going to redress the balance. The level of hysteria, I predict, will grow as they come to realize at the American Bar Association and elsewhere that this really is an effort to limit the power of lawyers to redesign America.
Green: Should you become president, is there a crop of attorneys and judges out there that understand history and understand originalism that you would have to choose from, in other words it’s got to be more than just you and Congress, what about good judges?
Gingrich: You start looking at people of the caliber of Robbie George of Princeton, you look at Regent University, you look at Liberty University, you start looking around and realizing there is a whole crop - Vince Haley of University of Virginia graduate who is a deeply, deeply committed Christian who clearly understands these kinds of issues - I think people would be surprised that the Federalist Society has many members who agree that we need a balance of power between the three, not a judicial dictatorship.
Today on The 700 Club, a man with an openly gay son asked Pat Robertson how he can show his son “the love of Jesus when you know his sexual preference is an abomination to God.” Robertson told the father to love his son by encouraging him to “un-acquire” his sexual orientation and “get out of this.” Robertson’s advice should come as no surprise, as The 700 Club has featured “ex-gays” and the televangelist has said that gays and lesbians are “on their way to hell,” will bring America into the “ash-can of history” and prompt God to destroy America.
Robertson: Well you can love, you know what they say, you love the sinner and hate the sin, but I think what you got to do is love him, you’re his father. You want to say, ‘look I don’t agree with what you’re doing but I love you, you’re my son, you came from my body, you’re part of me and I’m with you but I’d like you to get out of this.’ I know people disagree with the question of homosexuality; is it something that they’re born with or is it something that’s acquired? I think a lot of it is acquired, I don’t know all the genes or the genetics that’s in your son as to what is causing him to do whatever he’s doing, you’ll have to figure that one out. But normally speaking, a person who has acquired this can un-acquire it. We’ve had many people who have indeed left the homosexual lifestyle and gone into a heterosexual relationship and have been very, very happy. But all I can say is love the son, love the son, and show him what you consider a better way.
Notably, Robertson’s own Regent University in a study of sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or bi-curious) involved or once involved in opposite-sex relationships found that heterosexual behavior did not alter their homosexual or bisexual orientation:
When we look at the sexual minorities specifically, it is noteworthy that the findings from the Kinsey scale suggest that they did report significant behavioral change. This likely reflected the commitment to their heterosexual marriage and the decrease in frequency of same-sex behavior. However, when the Kinsey expanded scale was administered, sexual minorities did not report a statistically significant change in the combination of behaviors, attraction, fantasy, and emotional attachment – the combination meant to convey sexual orientation rather than just behavior.
After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech announcing a new administration directive to protect the rights of LGBT people abroad, the Religious Right reacted with the predictable rage and vitriol. Pat Robertson warned that God will punish America with a “horrible” blow and the Family Research Council accused Obama of “imposing an alien ideology on other countries” for trying to stop countries from criminalizing homosexuality.
Conservative commentators ignored well-documented evidence of pervasive anti-LGBT violence around the world, as radio talk show host Janet Mefferd railed against the directive as “crazy” and dismissed reports of violence against gays and lesbians, and Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber denied reports of persecution against the LGBT community as “nonsense” and “Orwellian New Speak.” In fact, they readily defended the seventy-six countries which criminalize homosexuality:
Last week, the United Nations even released a new report [pdf] chronicling “violations for close to two decades” of killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education” against LGBT and LGBT-perceived people:
Homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in all regions. Such violence may be physical (including murder, beatings, kidnappings, rape and sexual assault) or psychological (including threats, coercion and arbitrary deprivations of liberty).25 These attacks constitute a form of gender-based violence, driven by a desire to punish those seen as defying gender norms.
In addition to “street” violence and other spontaneous attacks in public settings, those perceived as LGBT may be targets of more organized abuse, including by religious extremists, paramilitary groups, neo-Nazis and extreme nationalists. Young LGBT people and those of all ages who are seen to be transgressing social norms are at risk of family and community violence. Lesbians and transgender women are at particular risk because of gender inequality and power relations within families and wider society.
Violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), homophobic hate crimes and incidents often show a high degree of cruelty and brutality and include beatings, torture, mutilation, castration and sexual assault.
The report went on to discuss how “members of sexual minorities are disproportionately subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment” and that the government, police, schools, health institutions and the justice system are major perpetrators of discrimination against LGBT people.
Surely, Religious Right activists will take heed of this new report….
Today on The 700 Club, Pat Robertson joined other right-wing commentators in blaming “anti-Christian bigotry” for people mocking Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and his very, very public religiosity. Robertson slammed Saturday Night Live for having a character play Jesus to tell Tebow to “take it down a notch.” “We need more religious faith in our society, we’re losing our moral compass in our nation,” Robertson lamented, “and this man has been placed in a unique position and I applaud him, God bless him.”
Bill Bennett appeared today on Family Talk with James Dobson to promote The Book of Man, Bennett’s compilation of works about men at war, work, prayer, politics and the home. Like in his interview with Pat Robertson, Bennett decried “the feminist movement” and “the gay culture,” which he said “confused an awful lot of boys.” He went on to argue that the media and universities are also to blame for not sending “a consistent message to boys about what it means to be a man” and playing a role in the so-called collapse of manhood today:
Dobson: You’re concerned about manhood today, aren’t you?
Dobson: Especially in the Western world, we’ve forgotten what it means to be a man. And we’re not teaching our boy’s to be men. Why?
Bennett: That’s exactly right, because…moral relativism, the notion that there’s no right and wrong, who’s to say? The dizzying array of signals, the gay culture, which has confused an awful lot of boys, the message is there.
Dobson: The feminist movement has just hammered away at what manhood means.
Bennett: The feminist movement, remember Gloria Steinem, ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ If you put on TV, if you go to the universities, if you check the popular culture, there is not a consistent message to boys about what it means to be a man, and as a result they’re confused.
Secretary Hillary Clinton’s speech on defending LGBT rights abroad and the new Obama administration policy to protect people around the world who are jailed, beaten and executed for being LGBT have been met with intense uproar from the Religious Right.
Pat Robertson on The 700 Club today said that the policy was “appalling” shows that America is willing to “violate God’s principles and to make a mockery of His laws.” Robertson even warned that God will not tolerate it and “when the blow comes, it’s going to be horrible”:
Robertson: Isn’t it appalling that the United States of America would try to force the acceptance of homosexuality on other nations but at the same time we would not force them to take care of their religious minorities and they would permit discrimination and persecution of Christians? What kind of a country have we got? You know, there is a God in heaven and He is just. Thomas Jefferson, ‘I tremble when I remember that God is just.’ He is just, he is not going to allow this kind of thing to go on forever. This country cannot continue to violate God’s principles and to make a mockery of His laws and think we’re going to get away with it. And when the blow comes, it’s going to be horrible.
On Crosstalk yesterday, Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth America argued that the new policy shows that “the inmates have taken over the asylum” and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said it confirms the administration’s support of the “radical sexual anarchist agenda”:
Janet Mefferd yesterday defended Nigeria’s right to have a law criminalizing homosexuality and a bill that would crack down on gay couples, and even dismissed concerns about persistent violence against gays and lesbians in Africa:
Mefferd: Let’s get our priorities straight here, in other words, why are we even focusing on this? Other than the fact that you have African countries that have policies like Nigeria, criminalizing homosexuality, are they not a sovereign nation? Can’t they make up their own minds about these things? If they want to pass a law we’re going to play bully over this issue? I can understand countries where people are being flagrantly persecuted for their faith but this one; I don’t see that this is something that the United States has to jump in on because it’s such a huge global tragedy. It’s crazy. They’re saying it’s all homophobia in Nigeria, according to the law I guess in Nigeria not only is gay marriage a crime punishable by a fourteen year jail term but any person who registers, operates or participates in gay organizations faces a decade in jail, a clause that specifically targets the many active sexuality-rights advocacy groups in the country. Alright, but they’re not killing them are they? Are they going to go to jail?
What do you say about this? For another country to make the decision that anybody who violates a standard that they want to uphold in their society to go to jail, where do you draw the line on that? If you have a culture that had a lot of Christians who say we cannot as a society look upon homosexuality as a good thing for all of us, but in that case you’ve got to gather together the global community and bully them out of it.
If Pat Robertson’s CBN News wants to be treated as a credible news source, it probably should stop elevating the story of Kamal Saleem.
Saleem, who was also prominently featured in The Call: Detroit – where he urged other Muslims to convert to Christianity – and told rally attendees that he is the descended of the “Grand Wazir of Islam.” However, the title is not found anywhere in Islam. While preparing for The Call:Detroit, Saleem said that President Obama planned “to break down Article 6” of the Constitution in order to enforce “Islamic law,” warning “if he breaks this, the Sharia law will be supreme in America.”
An investigation by CNN found that Saleem is one of a handful of “fundamentalist Christians posing as ex-terrorists,” and a Middle East studies professor at the conservative Calvin College said his story “is not verifiable and without it he’s no different from other fundamentalist preachers.” Howard even wrote a review of Saleem’s book, which he called “obsessively, sadistically violent,” highlighting Saleem’s many contradictions in his backstory and his blatant and bizarre misrepresentations of Islam, saying, “Suffice it to say that if the subject were Jews, this book could not have been published.” Howard even points out that Focus on the Family, a former employer of Saleem, even had doubts about Saleem’s conversion story.
Haroon Moghul of Religion Dispatches also points out inconsistencies in his story of working for rival Palestinian secular and Islamist groups simultaneously and his claim that as a Muslim he was “allergic to Jesus,” even though Muslims consider Jesus the Messiah.
Why would CBN News bolster such a clear fabricator?
CNN notes that “Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, worked for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network for sixteen years.”
Kamal was seven when his parents sent him to Muslim training camps to learn to use weapons and engage and kill the enemy. The boys were also taught another, more subtle form of warfare…
“We were training for what’s called, ‘Culture Jihad,’ which is shifting cultures. Culture Jihad is unlike the sword, unlike the rifle. It is the Jihad that will come into your world.”
By his 20s, Kamal was chosen to wage Cultural Jihad on America.
“In Islam, liberty, freedom, monarchy, all these are idols and must be brought down. So the liberty that you have in United States of America is anti-Islam, so America must be changed. So I moved to the 'Bible Belt' specifically. The Bible Belt was the strongest of the strongest. That’s where the stout Christians are, and I want to take on the best of the best, because I considered myself as the sword of Islam. I thought, 'I’m anointed. I’m unique. I’m selected. I’m coming to a country and a culture to change it. I have the power of Allah with me.'"
Conservative writer Ben Shapiro joined Pat Robertson on The 700 Club to discuss his new book, Primetime Propaganda, and Hollywood’s advocacy of gay rights and progressive values. Shapiro’s book argues that shows from ‘Sesame Street’ to ‘Friends’ are pushing left-wing beliefs to viewers, and tells Robertson that what is most despicable are television shows that back gay-rights. Shapiro believes that television shows exclude conservative actors and writers while increasingly include openly gay characters in order to manipulate people into supporting marriage equality. Robertson lamented, “the American people overwhelmingly vote for traditional marriage between a man and a woman, what is it with Hollywood, I mean they are inserting gays one after another, as a matter of fact straight actors are being forced to play gay roles.”