Ralph Reed

Trump Names 'Pro-Life Advisory Council' In Attempt To Reassure Anti-Choice Movement

Donald Trump’s campaign has given the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody a sneak peek at the members of a “pro-life advisory council” that the candidate is set to introduce today. Earlier this month, Trump sent a letter to “pro-life leaders” laying out a number of promises that he would make to their movement and announcing that Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-choice electoral group Susan B. Anthony List, would spearhead the new anti-abortion coalition for his campaign.

Trump has given the anti-abortion movement some serious heartburn during his campaign as he’s continually reshaped his position on the issue and bungled their talking points, including at one point saying that women should face “some form of punishment” for abortion if the procedure is recriminalized. But since earning the Republican nomination, he’s started to win over many skeptical anti-abortion leaders with promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who share their views and to help them dismantle Planned Parenthood.

Brody writes that the full list released today “may indeed give comfort to those remaining evangelicals who are having a tough time making their way to the voting booth this Election Cycle.” Indeed, while Trump has attempted to say different things about abortion rights to different audiences, this new coalition shows that he is ready to go all-in with a movement that ultimately wants to ban the procedure without exception.

On the new list of Trump’s anti-choice allies are a number of legislators who have taken the lead on fighting abortion rights in Congress, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who led the House select committee investigating Planned Parenthood, Rep. Diane Black, Rep. Trent Franks and Rep. Chris Smith. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is on the list, as is Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

Also joining the new coalition are Religious Right activists including Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council; Gary BauerRalph Reed; the American Principles Project’s Frank Cannon; Bill Dallas of United in Purpose; Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance; C-FAM’s Austin Ruse; and Ed Martin, head of the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, who is apparently sympathetic to many of Trump’s views.

The list also includes anti-abortion activists Day Gardner of the National Black Pro-Life Union, Kristan Hawkins of Students for LifeAlveda King and Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and former Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest, who now works for Bauer’s American Values.

Dannenfelser has made no secret of the fact that she eventually wants to ban abortion without exception (except for a narrow exemption for saving a woman’s life) and her group opposes some common forms of birth control, claiming that they cause abortions. Many of the activists in Trump’s new coalition have similarly extreme views and are confident that Trump will let them have their way.

Ruse, who works at the United Nations to attempt to stop the adoption of language friendly to LGBT equality and reproductive rights, has declared, for instance, that “comprehensive sexuality education” is “a phrase created in the pits of hell by wicked individuals who wanted to undermine the family and ultimately destroy any institution that stands between the family and the state.” After meeting with Trump earlier this year, Ruse said that the GOP candidate “doesn’t care about” reproductive rights and therefore will “let our side do exactly what we want to do.”

Others have presented different reasons for supporting Trump. Priests for Life’s Pavone, who has said that legal abortion is worse than terrorism, has been somewhat lukewarm about Trump but has argued that Trump’s promises on abortion overcome any other faults he might have.

In response to a caller to a Catholic radio program who said that Trump’s stances on things like nuclear warfare and going after the families of suspected terrorists aren’t exactly pro-life, Pavone said that the potential of Trump dropping an atomic bomb is less dangerous than the certainty of Hillary Clinton continuing the “raging holocaust” of legal abortion. On another radio program, Pavone argued that it is more important that a candidate be “right on abortion” than on “poverty, immigration, war and peace, homelessness [and] health care.”

Pavone, after Trump said he supported punishing women who have abortions, floated the possibility of legal punishments for abortion “accomplices,” such as the person who brings a woman to a clinic.

Pavone’s Priests for Life colleague, Alveda King, also has some extreme views on reproductive rights, including alleging that “chemicals and things” in birth control make women infertile and that Planned Parenthood gives women contraception in order to give them breast cancer.

Other activists in Trump’s coalition have been leaders of the effort to chip away at abortion access by attempting to regulate abortion providers out of existence. When Yoest was at Americans United for Life, she was at the forefront of what she called this “stealth strategy” of “trench warfare and gaining ground under the radar.”

Ralph Reed: Evangelicals Will Turn Out For Trump & Keep Clinton From Running Away With Election

Last weekend political operative Ralph Reed appeared on the "Journal Editorial Report" on Fox News to talk about evangelical voters (by which he seemd to mean white evangelicals) and Donald Trump.

Asked by The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot how Trump is doing among evangelicals relative to previous Republican nominees, Reed said Trump is “hitting at the industry standard” and possibly “heading, really, to the highest we have ever seen.” Reed said that George H.W. Bush had gotten 82 percent of the evangelical vote in 1988 and George W. Bush got 78 percent in 2004, which was matched by Mitt Romney.

Reed cited four recent polls that he said have reliable data on evangelical voters, saying that they show an average of 73 percent support for Trump and 18 percent for Hillary Clinton. He called evangelical voters “the largest single constituency in the electorate,” saying they constitute between 24 and 27 percent of the electorate, with Catholics who frequently attend mass adding another nine percent. “So this is bigger than the Hispanic vote, bigger than the African American vote, and bigger than the feminist and gay vote combined,” Reed said.

Reed said Trump is winning support by showing up at evangelical events, asking for their vote, and telling them that he shares their values and wants to see their “role in society enhanced.” Beyond that, said Reed, he is winning their support based on:

“…his fealty to their positions on the sanctity of life, on traditional marriage, on support for the state of Israel, on religious freedom, particularly that progeny of cases before the Supreme Court like Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, and finally, his full-throated opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, which I think resonates powerfully in this community because they consider Iran to be an existential threat to the survival of the state of Israel.

Gigot asked why Clinton was doing so well in traditionally Republican states like Georgia. Reed noted that Georgia has a large number of African American voters, which makes it competitive. Reed said Trump’s trouble in battleground states reflects that he’s had a rough few weeks, but he said he believes Trump has “turned the corner” and he still believes if Trump gets and stays on message, it’s going to be getting “a lot better for him, not only in those red states, but nationally and in the battleground states.”

I’m not in the prediction business, but based on what we’re seeing anecdotally, these voters of faith are gonna turn out, and they’re gonna turn out in huge numbers, and I think he’s gonna to get north of 75 percent of the vote, and if that is baked into the cake, there is no way that she runs away with this election. I think it’ll be competitive.

In an email touting his Fox appearance, Reed wrote that his Faith and Freedom Coalition “is undertaking the most ambitious voter education effort in its history to educate, inform, mobilize and turn out voters of faith in 2016.”

FFC is training hundreds of volunteers in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and other key states who will staff its 31 field offices in 11 states andknock on over 1 million doors between now and November 8.  Be a part of history!   Sign up for our Volunteer Strike Force…

FFC will distribute 30 million voter guides in an estimated 117,000 churches nationwide, make over 15 million get-out-the-vote phone calls, and reach 2.4 million voters at their homes with personal visits.  If you can’t volunteer door-to-door or do not live or can’t travel to a battleground state, you can still be a part of FFC’s Strike Force by calling voters across the country from your own home…


Christian Nationalist David Lane Plans Massive Pro-Trump Turnout Drive

Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base.

David Lane, the Christian-nationalist political operative who sponsored the event Trump and Marco Rubio attended recently in Florida, has reportedly raised nearly $10 million to conduct a church-based voter registration and GOTV drive in six target states. Lane’s organization, the American Renewal Project, will target Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. Lane has always been secretive about his donors, but as we have reported, the foundations of Texas fracking billionaires Dan and Ferris Wilks have been major donors to his operations. 

Strategists, including GOP operatives Wayne Hamilton and Dave Carney, will meet in Dallas this week to map out the strategy. Like most news about Lane’s operations, the story was first reported by Lane’s mouthpiece, David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody reports that in the weeks ahead, Trump and Mike Pence will be invited to speak to at least half a dozen similar "Pastors and Pews" events, which are designed to energize politically active conservative evangelical pastors.

We have reported extensively on Lane’s political operations, his ties to the Republican Party and his extreme worldview, including his intensely anti-gay positions and his belief that politics is a form of spiritual warfare designed to bring the United States back to what he thinks is its mission and covenant with God to advance the Christian faith. He’s not shy about expressing that view, as Brody reports:

The central theme behind this effort is a need for spiritual revival in America. Lane recognizes that a president, whether they are republican or democrat isn’t going to save America. This is spiritual warfare playing out in an arena where somebody’s values are going to rule the day. Lane says it’s time for pastors to step up and lead from the pulpit. “Christians founded America, not secularists, agnostics, atheists or multicultural proponents like the current president,” Lane tells The Brody File. “Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians have to engage in 2016 if America is to be saved.”

Lane, of course, is not running the only pro-Trump Religious Right GOTV effort. In a Monday morning email, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition said it has started its 2016 ground campaign and is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, distribute voter guides and make GOTV phone calls to generate “the largest conservative vote in American history.” The email starts with a recent quote from Jerry Falwell Jr. saying Donald Trump is a leader like Winston Churchill who can save America.

Citizens United & Breitbart Debut New 'Christian War Film' At RNC

Right-wing moviemaking has been a growth industry in recent years, as conservative activists set out to challenge what they see as the damaging cultural impact of liberalism’s dominance in Hollywood. The latest example is “Torchbearer,” which director Steve Bannon called “a Christian war film” in remarks before a screening in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention last week.

“Torchbearer” stars Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who became a folk hero in the right-wing war on “political correctness” when the show was temporarily suspended by A&E amid controversy over Robertson's inflammatory remarks about homosexuality and black people in the pre-civil-rights-movement Louisiana. The movie was shown to distributors in Cannes and will be released in theaters in August.

The hour-long film is a collaboration between well-known right-wing groups. Bannon is executive chairman of Breitbart News; the script was written by a Breitbart editor, Rebecca Mansour. It was produced by Citizens United, the organization whose movie attacking Hillary Clinton was used by conservatives on the Supreme Court to gut regulation of political money in Citizens United the court ruling. Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed attended the premiere, and at a reception following the screening, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., took the opportunity to slam Clinton and praise the work of Citizens United.

The idea for “Torchbearer” came from Robertson’s nephew Zach Dasher, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014. The plan began to gel during conversations at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, at which Robertson was honored with the Andrew Breitbart Award. The film includes a clip from Robertson’s CPAC speech warning about sexually transmitted diseases.

Dasher introduced other pre-movie speakers, calling Citizens United’s David Bossie “Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare” and celebrating that “Breitbart is waging war on liberalism in America.” Bossie said “Torchbearer” is the sixth collaboration between Citizens United and Bannon.

Dasher said he didn’t want to make a “typical cheesy Christian film.” Judging by that standard, you would have to say the movie succeeds. But it is hard to imagine anyone, even people who share Robertson’s evangelical faith and political beliefs, could enjoy the film very far beyond the opening sequences, which intersperse shots of Robertson calmly boating, fishing and hunting with sneering critics calling him bigoted and stupid, clearly meant to set up the narrator as a common-man hero despised by the cultural elites.

The film combines Robertson presenting an evangelical message of salvation through Jesus Christ with a theory about religion’s role in human history and society. Says Robertson, “When you take out God as the anchor of your civilization you open the door to tyranny and instead of human rights you have the will to power of the ruler who makes himself the sole determiner of what is true and just. Might makes right.”

More specifically, it is a warning to Americans that societies not grounded in reverence and fear for the Judeo-Christian God, and His teachings on right and wrong, inevitably descend into depravity and brutality.

Robertson says the Scopes trial on the teaching of evolution, during which H.L. Mencken mocked religious opponents of teaching evolution in schools, was “a watershed event that would slowly unravel the bond that wove the Creator into the very fabric of American life. God would be cast out of the public square, out of education, out of national discourse, out of the popular culture altogether.”

It is hard to describe how disturbing this movie is, on multiple levels.

Firstly, it visually and emotionally assaults the viewer by lingering on gruesome images of violence and death, using reenactments and animation as well as the most graphic historical footage from Auschwitz and more recent images of victims of ISIS and Boko Haram being beaten, shot and burned to death. I would call the movie’s infliction of trauma gratuitous, but it seems a very purposeful act meant to provoke and inflame and generate a rage to war.

Also jarring are the vast leaps through time and the excising of inconvenient truths that would undermine the moviemakers’ message, which seems to be that the history of the last 2015 years is a story of barbarity inflicted on Christians and others by those who have abandoned God or worship the wrong God or gods.

The movie’s timeline starts in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve inviting evil into the world with their disobedience of God. Then we’re in Athens to talk about Aristotle’s belief in a “first cause” and four centuries later the apostle Paul’s trip there; then to Rome for the execution of Peter and Paul, the emperor Nero’s brutal massacres of Christians, and the Roman empire’s continued persecution of Christians over their refusal to adhere to the “civic religion” (dog-whistle alert) of the time, which required treating the emperor as a god.

From there, we hop to the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, conveniently skipping over a millennium-plus of history that includes abundant butchery carried out by people and societies fervent in their religious beliefs, particularly European Christians in wars against heretics and each other and during the conquest of the Americas.

Then it’s a short hop to the American Revolution. Robertson contrasts the American founders’ reverence for God with the atheistic French Revolution and Robespierre’s bloody reign of terror. The movie does not address the American Civil War, in which God-fearing Christians on both sides engaged in bloody combat.

At the turn of the 20th century, Robertson says, “worship of science becomes the new religion.” The film includes a segment on the development of the atomic bomb, “the first weapon of mass destruction.” It features a clip of nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer reciting language from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Robertson responds, “So fallen man, unanchored by God, uses the power of creation to destroy. Mechanized war is upon us.”

It is not entirely clear how this segment fits the movie’s thesis that without the Judeo-Christian God as an anchor, there is no protection for human rights and human dignity. Are the filmmakers suggesting that Franklin Delano Roosevelt — whose public prayers for the D-Day invasion are cited admiringly in the film — was “unanchored by God” and was wrong to back development of the atomic bomb in fierce competition with Nazi scientists?

Speaking of Nazis, the movie devotes significant time to Auschwitz, where Robertson talks at length about the details of the horrific, systematized mass murder that took place there, which he blames in part on philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s claim that God is dead.

To be sure, the Holocaust is a brutal historical reality that should continue to be examined and understood as a warning about the way evil can be fostered and carried out at a national level, something that has been on many people’s minds during this political season. But this movie’s use of the stories and images of the people murdered at Auschwitz feels shamefully exploitative, especially in light of the fact that the film contains not a word about the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Acknowledging centuries of deadly violence against Jews by Christians and in the name of Christianity would, again, undermine or at least complicate the movie’s central claim, and so it is simply ignored.

The same could be said of the film’s use of the civil rights era in the United States. The movie shows footage of the brutality meted out against those who were peacefully protesting segregation, but portrays this as another example of what happens when societies have rejected God and the weak and powerless are vulnerable to the man “with the biggest stick.”

But the big-stick brutality of Jim Crow and the official violence that enforced it were not being waged by a people who had rejected God. They were carried out by people who declared themselves to be acting in His name. Robertson himself has said that black people were more “godly” and “happy” under Jim Crow.

The movie quotes Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail as an example of religious faith in the service of public righteousness. But it utterly neglects how much slavery and Jim Crow were also justified by religious arguments, and how intensely the civil rights movement was seen by many white Christian leaders in the south as an attack on their faith as well as their culture. The late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., whose son had a prominent speaking role at the RNC, preached that the Supreme Court justices who ruled against segregated schools were not heeding God’s word.

Moving to the present era, Robertson warns against poll-driven morality – a not-too-subtle reference to growing support for LGBT people – and says a “sentimental need to be nice to each other” is not enough to ward off barbarism. Warning that “sentimentalism falls prey to nihilism,” Robertson says of the Hippies, “what started out as free love and flowers in your hair ended up with the Manson murders.” The movie includes footage of abortion activists’ anti-Planned Parenthood “sting” videos as well as American pop stars in sensual performances. “We are crotch-driven animals following our instincts,” he complains. “The sexual experience is now the high summit of our happiness.”

As the movie nears an end, viewers are subjected to graphic images of brutality and genocide being carried out by ISIS and affiliated terrorist groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria; Robertson reads from the biblical Book of Revelation.

And then there’s an abrupt shift back into the bayou made famous by Robertson and his family. Robertson wades into the water, where one at a time, people walk out to join him and be baptized. It is strikingly peaceful end to a “war movie.” Even if one is not tempted to join the line of people being baptized by Robertson, the idea of a soothing dip is very appealing after being subjected to “Torchbearer.”


Ralph Reed Makes The Case For Donald Trump

One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.

Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.

In Cleveland this week for the RNC, Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed spoke with Doug Wright, “Utah’s most listened to talk show host.” Polls show that many of Utah’s Mormon voters are resisting the call to unite behind Trump.

When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”

Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.

In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.

Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”

More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.

Self-Proclaimed LGBT Hero Donald Trump To Announce Advisory Board Of Anti-LGBT Activists

Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed hero of the LGBT community, is slated to unveil a religious advisory board filled with outspoken opponents of LGBT rights this week, coinciding with his meeting tomorrow with hundreds of Religious Right leaders.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the group is likely to include longtime supporters such as televangelist Paula White, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress.

Others expected to join the board include Ralph Reed, who recently introduced Trump at an event hosted by his Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ronnie Floyd and Jack Graham, the current and past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention, respectively, and Jay Strack of the Orlando-based Student Leadership University.

The choice of these activists as campaign advisers would further undermine Trump’s attempts — bolstered by some in the media — to portray himself as either supportive of gay rights or at least distanced from the GOP’s anti-LGBT politics.

Jeffress, as we’ve noted, “believes that gays and lesbians are ‘perverse’ people who are either pedophiles or likely to abuse children in the future; compared homosexuality to bestiality and called it ‘a miserable lifestyle’; accused gay people of using ‘brainwashing techniques’ to have homosexuality ‘crammed down our throats’; said that gay people ‘are engaged in the most detestable, unclean, abominable acts you can imagine’; predicted that the gay rights movement ‘will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist’; and labeled homosexuality a ‘filthy practice’ that will lead to the ‘implosion of our country.’”

Floyd, the SBC president, once said that Satan is using the “gay lifestyle” to destroy cultural values and labeled the adoption of children by same-sex couples a “tragedy”:

It appears now that everywhere you look, everything you read and everything you hear is about the gay lifestyle. Satan has taken his tool of homosexuality, a gross and evil sin, and done a con job on the American culture, making it seem like all is okay when you are gay. I hope you are aware that what was once subtle has now turned into the rage of a lion as brazen and threatening as anything in our culture. I must sound the trumpet loud and clear, praying that we do not run in retreat, but march in the truth of God valiantly. This is not a skirmish or a conflict or a disagreement, but it is a war. The war they have declared against our culture has an agenda and we need to be aware of it.

The attack everywhere in our culture is to get you to see the gay lifestyle or gay couples as being the same as you. The agenda is also trying to desensitize you to them, their verbiage and lifestyle. In other words, "if you get use to us you will eventually ignore us or accept us." The bombardment and intentionality is already so great that the desensitization is already occurring. Of course, inclusiveness is their theme song. Their goal is to get themselves included into all of society and its benefits, including benefits economically. As they play the song of "inclusiveness," gay couples are now adopting children. What a tragedy. As each of us desire, the homosexual and lesbian want affirmation and will do whatever it takes to receive it. The love and acceptance they have found in the homosexual community is what lured them there and will keep them there until God intervenes.

Graham, one of Floyd’s predecessors in leading the SBC, has a similar view, telling his congregation recently that “the LBGT [sic] promotes a godless agenda, and now on the backs of many confused and conflicted people, are opening the door, literally, to perversion of all kinds.” Last year, he encouraged civil disobedience to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling.

Reed has used his Faith and Freedom Coalition to regularly attack LGBT rights and Falwell’s Liberty University is well-known for its rules against homosexuality and support for anti-gay activism.

Other Trump-backing pastors include Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy,” who has described HIV/AIDS as “a disease that comes because of unnatural sex” and said he would be willing to burn to death to resist LGBT rights, and Carl Gallups, a pastor who spoke before Trump at a Florida rally and whose endorsement was touted by Trump’s campaign, who believes, as we recently summarized, that “same-sex marriage will completely destroy society by bringing about economic turmoilsevere persecutionthe ‘enslavement’ of Christians and divine punishment.”

Ralph Reed Thinks Elected Officials Should 'Do Your Job,' But Apparently That Doesn't Apply To Senate Republicans

Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition has released an ad attacking North Carolina Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper for his refusal to defend the state's recently enacted anti-LGBT law, HB2.

Insisting that the only goal of the law was to give people privacy in the restroom "just like it's always been," the ad declares that "Attorney General Roy Cooper should do his one job: Defend North Carolina."

It's rather ironic that the FFC's ad would tell Cooper to "do your job," considering that #DoYourJob is exactly the message that thousands have been sending to Republicans in the Senate who are refusing to give President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland so much as a hearing.

Reed and the FFC, of course, are not particularly interested in urging Republican senators to do their jobs and have repeatedly praised them for not doing their jobs:

The wheels of power in Washington, DC move at a very plodding pace, and in this case and throughout our nation’s history, appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court are not, and should not, be any different. Accordingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley have both publicly vowed to block any nominees from the White House until the American people have elected a new president in November.

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides the U.S. Senate with the power to confirm or reject Presidential appointments to the Court. Our founders included the clause as a safeguard against authoritarianism by providing a clear separation of powers. Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley are performing their duties to the full extent authorized by the Constitution and conservatives should commend and support their leadership.


Thanks to Mr. McConnell and Mr. Grassley, and the social conservatives standing behind them, he will not have the opportunity to continue to fundamentally change America through the courts.

Donald Trump To Court Anti-LGBT Hate Groups, 'Prophets' And Televangelists

Next month, Donald Trump will host a meeting with some of the country’s most radical anti-LGBT and anti-choice leaders in New York City.

Trump, who has already recruited a variety of far-right activists and conspiracy theorists to his campaign, is set to take part in a convening organized by Ben Carson, a former rival turned campaign surrogate, aimed at bringing reluctant Religious Right leaders to his side.

According to a copy of the invitation to the event obtained by the National Review, Trump will be joined by Religious Right activists including Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Penny Nance, Jim Garlow, Rick Scarborough, Phil Burress, Ken Cuccinelli, Lila Rose, E.W Jackson, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Cindy Jacobs.

The meeting will be cohosted by the Family Research Council, Vision America and AFA Action, the political arm of the American Family Association, three of the most vicious anti-LGBT hate groups in the country.

Trump has already pledged to use nominees to the Supreme Court to pave the way for the reversal of the landmark rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality and has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, key priorities of right-wing activists.

Here is a brief introduction to some of the far-right extremists Trump will be meeting with next month.

Pat Robertson

Televangelist Pat Robertson has long track record of making derogatory and bizarre statements about LGBT people and others, including remarks that he would rather have the public not know about. For instance, Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network tried unsuccessfully to expunge the web of a video segment in which Robertson said that gay people secretly wear dangerous rings that cut the hands of the people they meet in order to spread HIV/AIDS:

Robertson also joined Jerry Falwell in blaming the 9/11 attacks on gay people, feminists and People For the American Way.

Cindy Jacobs

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs claims that she receives direct messages from God about assassination plotsterrorist cells and imminent attackssuch as 9/11hurricanesfloodswarscoups; and Native American-induced curses. She also claims to have the power of bringing the dead back to life.

But Jacobs may be best known for her claim that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell led to the mass death of birds in Arkansas.

Harry Jackson

During the fight over marriage equality in Maryland, Bishop Harry Jackson led a Religious Right rally by lambasting the demonic principalities that he claimed were bringing same-sex marriage into the state. “The Enemy wants it to be a legacy, or a seed that is planted in this generation that corrupts, perverts and pollutes generations to come,” he said of same-sex marriage.

It is no wonder that Jackson has also accused gay people of trying to “recruit your kids” and acting like Nazis.

He was also featured in an anti-gay film where he warned that the “homosexual agenda” is “one of those icebergs that if we don’t navigate around them correctly, will take us under.”

Rick Scarborough

Vision America head Rick Scarborough is an outspoken anti-LGBT activist who once suggested filing a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality modeled after the successful litigation against tobacco companies.

While his lawsuit still hasn’t materialized, Scarborough continues to lambast LGBT people, declaring that HIV/AIDS is a form of divine punishment against gay people, whom he insists on calling “sodomites” and accusing LGBT people of leading their children “into an early grave called hell.” While railing against President Obama’s appointment of several gay ambassadors, he declared that it would be “perfectly just” if God allowed a nuclear attack to destroy America in response.

Scarborough is so passionate about his contempt for LGBT rights that he said that he is ready to burn to death, “if necessary,” to stop marriage equality:

Tony Perkins

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins likes to pass himself off as a mainstream conservative leader, but is in reality a far-right zealot who has attacked gay people as pawns of Satan and defended Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” legislation.

Prior to the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality ruling, Perkins frequently predicted that Americans would launch a revolution to block same-sex marriages, warning that advances in LGBT equality would lead to an anti-Christian holocaust and a rise in terrorism.

Perkins, like Trump, has engaged in all sorts of conspiracy theories, everything from birtherism to the belief that the government is behind “the promotion of same-sex relations” as a means of “population control.”

E.W. Jackson

Virginia-based pastor E.W. Jackson has compiled a long record of anti-LGBT and anti-Obama diatribes over the years.

Jackson, who in 2013 was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, has said of gay people: “Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality.” Gay people, Jackson said, are “spiritually darkened” and have caused God to stop blessing the U.S. military. It is no wonder that Jackson said at a press conference that he was ready to die to fight gay marriage.

Jackson has similarly attacked President Obama as a man “with an evil presence” who helped influence the Democratic Party to have “an agenda worthy of the Antichrist.”

Jim Garlow

California-based pastor Jim Garlow, as we’ve previously noted, has “claimed his prayers helped secure the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which 'saved us from the bondage and enslavement that would come upon us if gay marriage actually passed in a state'; described the 'radical homosexual agenda' as a tool of Satan and 'almost like an Antichrist spirit'; and warned that marriage equality will lead to America’s destruction, widespread persecution and even death.”

Lila Rose

Lila Rose of the anti-abortion group Live Action has gained widespread notoriety over her smear campaigns against Planned Parenthood, telling supporters that she wants to battle Satan and “take out Planned Parenthood,” while comparing herself to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala Yousafzai.

Rose has said that abortions should be “done in the public square” until they can be banned.

James Dobson

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson is one of the creators of the modern Religious Right movement. He has:

  • Alleged that Obamacare will deprive the elderly of life-saving treatments.
  • Insisted that bisexuality means “orgies.”

Washington Times Partners with Ralph Reed

The Washington Times has long been a right-wing propaganda vehicle in the guise of a newspaper. Its pages have been a home to birtherism, anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric, and assorted Obama conspiracy theories. So it was not exactly surprising to get an email from political operative Ralph Reed about a new partnership between the paper and his Faith and Freedom Coalition.

I am very excited to share with you a valuable new partnership we have forged with The Washington Times! In addition to valuing the Times' conservative thought, leadership, and its trusted news coverage, we will now be publishing our own custom content inside the Times' national digital newspaper, viewable on any computer or mobile device.

The Times has extended an exclusive free 30-day trial subscription to all FFC members to try its TWT News App, its digital subscription newspaper filled with the country's best conservative opinion, investigative reporting, political news and faith and family coverage. At the end this 30-day trial, you will automatically be enrolled in a discounted yearly subscription to the TWT News App, allowing you complete and uninterrupted access to the full daily news report of The Times -- as well as our exclusive content -- at a discounted member rate of only $34.95 per year. The Washington Times has also agreed to donate $10 per subscription back to the FFC, enabling us to continue and expand our mission with additional resources.

This “news” came just days before the FFC’s annual “Road to Majority” conference gets under way in DC, featuring a long list of right-wing activist leaders and Members of Congress.

The Washington Times knows how to partner with right-wing groups. It has been a sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference and was the “official media sponsor” of last year’s March for Marriage.

John Kasich Kicks Off Presidential Bid By Addressing Religious Right Gathering

The Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Religious Right group led by disgraced right-wing lobbyist Ralph Reed, is holding its annual “Road to Majority” conference next week. Nearly every Republican presidential candidate has signed up for the event, and today, the FFC announced that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be addressing the conservative summit.

Kasich recently made waves by tapping John Weaver and Fred Davis, two veterans of John McCain’s 2008 campaign, to work for his increasingly likely campaign for president.

The conference is cosponsored by radical right-wing groups such as Concerned Women for America, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property and the World Congress of Families, and will feature speeches from Religious Right favorites such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes, Christian Broadcasting Network “reporter” David Brody, pastor Jim Garlow, rabbi Daniel Lapin and activists like Phyllis Schlafly, Lila Rose and Gary Bauer.

Clearly, no right-wing activist is too radical or corrupt for Republican presidential candidates to embrace, which is why Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have no qualms about attending this event organized by someone like Reed.

Reed is best known for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal, where he organized a Christian Coalition anti-gambling campaign in Alabama with the help of secretive funding from Mississippi tribes that owned casinos – who just so happened to be Abramoff’s clients that didn’t want business competition from the neighboring state. Reed denied knowing the source of the funding, even though investigators uncovered emails from Abramoff asking Reed to send invoices for approval from a Mississippi tribe which controlled major gaming interests. Abramoff later said that Reed “didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money,” adding that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/23/14

The Religious Right Reacts To SCOTUS Gay Marriage Decision: 'Unconscionable, Unconstitutional, And Un-American'

Earlier today, the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from several states challenging court decisions striking down gay marriage bans, resulting in such marriages now being legal in several more states.

To say that anti-gay Religious Right groups are furious with the Supreme Court would be a massive understatement and nobody was more livid about it than the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, who spent two segments of his radio program today blasting the Supreme Court for having now issued the "de facto Roe vs. Wade of sodomy-based marriage" by "imposing on every state in the union marriage that is based on the infamous crime against nature."

"It unconscionable, unconstitutional, and un-American," Fischer fumed:

Groups like Liberty Counsel were equally outraged, issuing a press release blasting the Court for its "decision to watch marriage burn to ashes:

"This is a total dereliction of duty," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "The Supreme Court abandoned its duty to take up or at least hold these marriage cases. The responsibility for the undermining of marriage rests solely at the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year's decision in the Defense of Marriage Act case that started this fire, and today's decision to watch marriage burn to ashes is the responsibility of the Supreme Court. The actions of the Supreme Court in particular, and of the judiciary in general, undermine the rule of law and erode the confidence of the people in the judicial branch of government. When the people lose confidence in the rule of law, the judiciary will lose is legitimacy. Everyone will be affected by same-sex marriage because it is an intolerant agenda that will directly collide with religious freedom," said Staver.

The Family Research Council was likewise outraged, warning that "more and more people [will] lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage":

"The Supreme Court decision to not take up these lower court rulings, which  undermine natural marriage and the rule of law, for now, puts the issue of marriage back before the US Congress.  This decision, in part, is an indication that those on the Court who desire to redefine natural marriage recognize the country will not accept a Roe v. Wade type decision on marriage.

"Unfortunately, by failing to take up these marriage cases, the High Court will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage.   Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves.  This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.

"The Court decision ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage.  As more states are forced to redefine marriage, contrary to nature and directly in conflict with the will of millions, more Americans will see and experience attacks on their religious freedom.   Parents will find a wedge being driven between them and their children as school curriculum is changed to contradict the morals parents are teaching their children.  As more and more people lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage, Americans will see the true goal, which is for activists to use the Court to impose a redefinition of natural marriage on the entire nation.

"Congress should respond to today's announcement by moving forward with the State Marriage Defense Act, which is consistent with last year's Windsor ruling and ensures that the federal government in its definition of marriage respects the duly enacted marriage laws of the states," concluded Perkins.

As was the National Organization for Marriage, which called for the passage of a national marriage amendment:

"We are surprised and extremely disappointed that the US Supreme Court has refused to grant review of the same-sex marriage cases pending before them. This is wrong on so many levels. First, the entire idea that marriage can be redefined from the bench is illegitimate. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman; it has been this throughout the history of civilization and will remain this no matter what unelected judges say. Second, it's mind-boggling that lower court judges would be allowed to impose the redefinition of marriage in these states, and our highest court would have nothing to say about it. Third, the effect of the lower court rulings is to say that a constitutional right to same-sex ‘marriage' has existed in every state in the union since 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified, but somehow nobody noticed until quite recently. That's the absurd belief we are being told to accept.

"It's possible that the Supreme Court wants to wait to take a case when a Circuit split develops so that it can rule in favor of the people's right to define marriage as it has always been defined. We're hopeful that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in our favor and that the Supreme Court will then take that case and decide that marriage is not unconstitutional.

"At the same time, given what the Supreme Court has allowed to happen, the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage. It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefore call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.

"We call upon Americans vigorously to contest this development by turning to the political process, starting with the upcoming mid-term elections. We urge voters to hold politicians accountable and demand to know if they will accept the illegitimate act of attempting to redefine marriage or whether they will stand with the American people to resist. In particular, we urge Republicans to hold their party leaders to account, and to demand that they remain true to their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman which was a pillar of the party's founding in 1856, and remains essential to society's well-being today.

Focus on the Family warned that it will result in a "further expansion of threats to religious freedom"

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to accept five state marriage cases sets the stage for the further spread of same-sex marriage, and with it, a further expansion of threats to religious freedom.

Marriage has always been – and will always be – between a man and a woman.  Ultimately, no court can change that truth.  So regardless of legal outcomes, we’ll continue to address the importance of one-man, one-woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father.

Our concern continues to be for children who deserve to grow up with both a mom and a dad, as well as for the religious freedom rights of people who strongly believe in God’s design for marriage and want to live consistently with those beliefs.

Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition called the decision a "miscarriage of justice" and warned that the Supreme Court will "reap a political whirlwind":

Today’s Supreme Court decision not to hear appeals of lower-court rulings that legalized same-sex marriage in five states is a miscarriage of justice that lays the predicate for a Roe v. Wade decision on marriage that will impose same-sex marriage on the entire country by judicial fiat.  The Court’s action has the effect of overturning the will of the voters in Indiana, Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin, including instances in which state constitutions were amended to codify marriage as the union between a man and a woman.  Today’s decision further insures that the marriage issue will motivate and mobilize voters of faith who are concerned about marriage and deeply resent having the institution redefined contrary to the clearly expressed will of the people by federal judges who legislate from the bench.  For candidates running in 2014 and those who run for president in 2016, there will be no avoiding this issue.  If the Supreme Court is planning a Roe v. Wade on marriage, it will sow the wind and reap a political whirlwind.

The Florida Family Policy Council's John Stemberger warned that "Supreme Court risks losing enormous institutional legitimacy" if it rules in favor of gay marriage:

Over the last 15 years, more than 40 million Americans in more than 30 states have voted at the ballot box to define marriage as one man and one woman – the same definition of marriage used worldwide. In the last nano-second of human civilization, some U.S. judges have attempted to ignore and erase those votes. The Supreme Court risks losing enormous institutional legitimacy if they ignore biology, logic, anthropology, social science and the collective wisdom of human history, and overturn an act of direct democracy by such an overwhelming number of American voters who protected marriage in their state constitutions.

Marriage is about more than who you love; it’s about bringing together the two great halves of humanity, male and female-- not gay and straight. Also it’s important to recognize that legalizing same-sex marriage ignores and eliminates the importance of gender in society: it costs kids either a mom or a dad (who are not interchangeable), and it costs people of faith their First Amendment rights as government imposes the new definition across all aspects of society. States and counties that have so-called “non-discrimination” laws which cover sexual orientation are being used as weapons to punish people of faith, and mainly Christians, for failure to facilitate or host same sex marriage ceremonies. We as a state and a society need to carefully count those costs before we run headlong into this latest social experiment with marriage, which will have negative impact on so many areas of life and law."

GOP 2016 Candidates Have Busy Religious Right Schedule Post-Values Voter Summit

The Values Voter Summit is thick with Republican presidential wannabes and members of Congress — a potent counter to recurring claims that the Religious Right is dead or dying as a political force. And the VVS is not the only place Republican candidates and politicians court Religious Right leaders and activists. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition had a pile of elected officials at its “Road to Majority” conference this summer. And, as we’ve reported, Republican presidential hopefuls make regular appearances at events convened by Christian-nation extremist David Lane and his Pastors and Pews network.

It’s a trend that isn’t slowing down any. David Catanese at US News & World Report reported this week that at least five potential presidential contenders — including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — will be appearing at David Lane events this fall.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister himself, is slated to participate in three of the upcoming "Pastors & Pews" settings, maintaining his close connection with religious conservatives.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has been the subject of increased White House speculation, will also travel to a "Pastors & Pews" event in Troy, Michigan next month. While Pence has said his focus remains on the first-term of his governorship in Indiana, the move shows his interest in testing the waters with an important Republican primary constituency.

Organized by conservative political consultant David Lane, the gathering of local pastors in cities across the country is designed to encourage and motivate them to participate in the political process.

“We have a constituency that we’re mobilizing. My goal is to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a Christian culture," Lane tells U.S. News.

Lane insists that America was founded as a Christian nation and believes the Bible should be made a primary textbook in public schools. But none of that is keeping prominent Republicans from courting the evangelical pastors that Lane wants to turn into a right-wing voter turnout machine. Lane told Catanese that he has Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal signed up for New Hampshire this week; Huckabee and Rand Paul in North Carolina next week; Pence and Rick Santorum in Michigan October 6-7, and Huckabee and Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford in Arkansas Oct 20-21. Huckabee and Ted Cruz already went to Michigan for a David Lane event in August.

The Right Enemies: A Look Back At Right-Wing Attacks On Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder, who today announced his plans to resign, has been a leader in addressing systems of racial discrimination and protecting the fundamental rights of every American to be treated equally under the law and participate in our democracy.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the Right loves to hate him.

In February of this year, the American Family Association demanded Holder’s impeachment after he had the audacity to treat married same-sex couples like married opposite-sex couples with regard to a host of legal rights and recognitions. Shortly after, both Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed and Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp echoed the call for Holder’s impeachment because of his support for marriage equality. Televangelist Pat Robertson also joined the impeachment parade, alleging that under Holder, “sodomy” was being “elevated above the rights of religious believers.”

Holder’s commitment to redressing racial injustice was no more warmly received by the Right than his work in support of LGBT equality. After Holder spoke out against voter ID laws, which disproportionately harm people of color, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused him of “purposefully” “incit[ing] racial tension.” Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt argued that Holder’s open discussion of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system means that he is the real “racist,” asserting last year that Holder wants to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went so far as to say that Holder would never “prosecute someone if the victim is white.” And after Holder visited Ferguson, Missouri last month, David Horowitz outrageously commented that the attorney general was leading a black “lynch mob.”

And those are just a handful of the attacks the Right has leveled against Holder for his work protecting equality under the law.

The fact that the far Right has reacted with so much vitriol to the attorney general’s leadership is a sign not only of how uninterested they are in the civil rights that the Justice Department is meant to protect, but also of how effective Holder’s work has been. The next attorney general should share Holder’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans – and, by extension, make all the “right” enemies among those hoping to turn back the clock on civil liberties.

This post originally appeared on the PFAW blog.

Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' - The Book Is Not Better Than The Movie

This week Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her” is sitting at the top of the New York Times “nonfiction” bestseller list. Earlier this month, the movie version crossed the $14 million dollar mark, which moved it into six place overall for earnings by a political “documentary.”

But D’Souza is not just out to make money, of course. At a June screening of “America,” right-wing strategist Ralph Reed called D’Souza “a national treasure for our cause.” D’Souza’s last movie, “2016: Obama’s America,” was designed to keep Barack Obama from being elected.  “America” is an attempt to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected in 2016, wrapped in an attack on the progressive movement.

At a time when corporate power and profits are at record highs, “America” the movie argues that America the country is being led down the road to national “suicide” and socialist tyranny in a plan that was conceived by organizer Saul Alinsky and is being carried out by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Central to this long-term leftist scheme to bring about American decline has been an effort to convince Americans to be ashamed of the country’s history so that they will support a reduced role for America in the world.

In the movie, D’Souza sets out to refute progressive “indictments against America: We stole the country from the Native Americans, we stole the labor of the African Americans, we took half of Mexico in the Mexican War. Today our foreign policy and free market system are forms of theft.” D’Souza says this “new story of American shame” is “not just an attack on the one percent. It’s an attack on all of us. We are a nation of immigrants and settlers and we are the ones accused of these crimes.” 

D’Souza interviews some leftists and liberals as foils, including Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, and Michael Eric Dyson, and turns to Alexis de Tocqueville, writing more than 150 years ago, as a “more reliable” source. De Tocqueville understood, D’Souza says, that slavery and the treatment of Native Americans were nothing unique to America, but reflected a universal “conquest ethic.” Throughout history, he says, wealth was built by conquest and theft. But America is uniquely based on a different idea – the idea of acquiring wealth not by taking it from someone else but through innovation, entrepreneurship and trade.

In the process of taking on these progressive “indictments” of American history, D’Souza essentially tells Native Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans that in the big picture they really have nothing to complain about, and could be successful if they were just willing to work rather than spending all their time complaining.

D’Souza is proud of himself for being willing to take on racial taboos, which he calls “the enemies of history and truth.” His point seems to be that African Americans were not uniquely abused by slavery and so they should stop thinking the country owes them something. Yes, he says, enslavement was theft of life and labor. But Irish people were also sold into indentured servitude. And some free blacks also owned slaves. Slave-owning founders should not be viewed as hypocrites but as pragmatists who had to accept slavery as the price of creating the U.S. And besides, slavery is part of the “universal conquest ethic” but “what’s uniquely American is the fighting of a great war to end it.”

The movie ignores Jim Crow, but tells the story of Madam C.J. Walker, an African American woman who was born just after the Civil War and who became wealthy by building a successful business in the early 20th Century. In the movie, an actress playing Walker lectures workers about freedom and opportunity and hard work. Of course, the movie does not mention her support for the NAACP or her active involvement in its anti-lynching campaigns. D’Souza claims she is left out of history because her success “confounds the shaming narrative.”

D’Souza also interviews Star Parker, a familiar figure at right-wing conferences, whose I-used-to-be-lazy-and-on-welfare shtick suggests that it is only an unwillingness to work hard that keeps people from being successful. In remarks made after the screening, D’Souza said nonwhite immigrants are doing better than African Americans because the latter have adopted a strategy of “agitate, agitate, agitate” rather than “work, work, work.”

In the movie, D’Souza portrays American foreign policy and global capitalism as fundamentally noble. So why are progressives out to destroy America and its place in the world?

The answer is Saul Alinsky. “America” portrays Alinsky as the ruthless mastermind of a plot to bring socialism to America, and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as his equally ruthless acolytes. Hillary Clinton turned down a job offer from Alinsky after she graduated from college because she had more nefarious plans. “While Alinsky wanted the radicals to pressure the government, Hillary wanted the radicals to become the government,” D’Souza says. Why shame people from the outside when you can intimidate them from the inside? “Hillary figured it out,” says D’Souza, “Obama is now carrying it out.”

D’Souza wraps up the movie with a disjointed section on the surveillance state. D’Souza says the government is gathering information on all Americans so that it can target political opponents, the way he says the Obama administration has targeted conservatives through the IRS and other agencies. Not very convincingly, he portrays his recent prosecution for violating campaign finance laws – he has pleaded to a felony and faces sentencing in September – as part of this ideological warfare.

All of which is a long way of saying the movie is a jumbled, self-indulgent, right-wing mess, aside from the slanted take on American history. Critics have not been kind to “America,” which has a 9% rating from movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers put the movie in the “Scum Bucket,” calling D’Souza a “lunatic.”

But plenty of good books have been made into mediocre movies, right? At the screening, D’Souza described the book as the “intellectual spine” of the movie, and said it had been hard to fully communicate all of the book’s ideas and make the movie entertaining.

So, if the book any better? Sadly, no. If anything, D’Souza’s polemics are even more ridiculous and incendiary when he has the space to spell them out. For example, “Today’s progressivism is less indebted to Marx than it is to Lenin.”

D’Souza’s take on race and civil rights is particularly noteworthy given events in Missouri that have focused national attention on the unequal treatment of people of color by police and the justice system.

D’Souza says the Civil Rights movement was hardly revolutionary because racism was already on the decline after World War II.  Government-enforced segregation was bad, he acknowledges, because it represented “a triumph of government regulation over the free market.” But private discrimination is not theft and should not have been banned, he says, writing, “Private employers should no more be forced to hire employees than employees should be forced to work for employers against their will.”

“Somewhat weirdly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not merely outlaw discrimination by the government; it also outlawed most forms of private discrimination. While I consider these restrictions on the private sphere to be unwise and unnecessary, they are also understandable.”

D’Souza says the election of Barack Obama, the existence of affirmative action programs, and changing attitudes toward racial intermarriage are all evidence of the continuing decline in racism in America.

“Blacks know it too: ask blacks today to recall when they personally experienced racism—when for example someone called them ‘nigger’—and many are hard pressed to give a single example.”

So there’s no reason for whining about racism, or God forbid, reparations. “Racism today is not strong enough to prevent blacks or any other group from achieving its aspirations,” he says, adding a couple pages later,

“Progressives are still chasing the windmills of old-style racism, whipping the nation into a frenzy every time there is some obscure incident. The reason blacks remain so far behind whites, however, has very little to do with racism. It has to do with African American cultural backwardness.”

Here are some other highlights:

·         Obama: “Obama is simply part of a fifty-year scheme for the undoing and remaking of America,” he writes. So how did Obama get elected? “There is a one-word answer: slavery.”

·         Clinton: “If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, the baton will have passed from one Alinskyite to another. In this case, Alinsky’s influence will have taken on a massive, almost unimaginable, importance. Obama will have had eight years to remake America, and Hillary will have another four or perhaps eight to complete the job. Together these two have the opportunity to largely undo the nation’s founding ideals.”

·         Native Americans: “The Indians were here first, but they were only sparsely and sporadically occupying the land. Consequently, many settlers regarded America as largely unoccupied, although the Indians surely disagreed with that perspective. Too bad the two groups could not amicably work out a way to share and benefit from this vast country.” Too bad? “They couldn’t, I believe, because both groups continued to espouse at least elements of the conquest ethic. Neither wished to be taken from, but both were willing to take when they had the power and the inclination to do so.” D’Souza has little sympathy for those “forlorn” Indians who “seem to prefer the joy of victimhood – and the exertions of claiming reparations of one sort or another –to the joy of entrepreneurial striving” – unlike those who are making money with casinos.

·         Immigration: “Immigration—legal and illegal—is the mechanism that today’s progressive organizers are counting on to undo the consequences of the Mexican War, and make the dream of Aztlan a reality.”

D’Souza asserts that “in no circumstance over the past hundred years” has America “stolen the wealth of any other country.” It’s not foreigners, but Americans, who are victimized by the federal government, “the biggest thief of all,” he writes. “In fact, progressives have turned a large body of Americans—basically, Democratic voters—into accessories of theft by convincing them that they are doing something just and moral by picking their fellow citizens’ pockets.”

With this line of reasoning, D’Souza aligns himself with the proponents of biblical economics, who argue that the government has no right to tax someone in order to alleviate someone else’s poverty.  “It does not promote the common good for the state to insist that successful people pay other people’s medical bills,” he says, describing Obamacare and progressive taxation as forms of theft. Transfer payments, unlike roads, do not constitute “general welfare.” Rather, “It constitutes a forcible extortion from one group and an unearned benefit to another.” The federal government is therefore not an instrument of justice but “an instrument of plunder.”

As in the movie, D’Souza takes time in the book to complain about his own prosecution (even though he admits having broken the law) and to suggest that the current surveillance state is part of the progressive movement’s strategy to impose totalitarianism: “Surveillance is simply the means to ensure that no one is safe.” He writes, “If progressives enforce their agenda through total control and compliance, America will truly be an evil empire, and it will be the right and duty of American citizens to organize once again, as in 1776, to overthrow it.” (Of course, aggressive surveillance began well before the Obama presidency, and progressives have been among those opposing government overreach.)

D’Souza denounces what he says is the progressive plan to diminish America’s influence globally, and closes the book with a warning about what the world might look like when its dominant force is not America but China, whose growing economic power is translating into greater military force and geopolitical influence. Similar concerns may be shared across the political spectrum, but having celebrated China’s adoption of market economics and economic growth, and having defended the export of American manufacturing jobs to cheap-labor China – trends that cannot be blamed on the Obama presidency –D’Souza does not make it clear what he would have American leaders do to forestall China’s rising influence. If he has a solution, he’s keeping it to himself.

The same can be said for the plight of unemployed and underemployed American workers. It doesn’t matter that you’re willing to work hard if there are no jobs to be had. And while D’Souza describes inequality as an essential element of the free market economy, he does not address the fact that in recent decades American workers have received almost none of the benefits of increasing productivity. His lectures to African Americans that their unwillingness to work hard is the only obstacle to their success ignore both evidence of continuing impacts of structural racism – reflected for example in exploitive mortgage underwriting – and the brutal consequences of the recent economic downturn on the already huge disparities of wealth between white and African American (and Latino) households.

The facile ideology of “America: Imagine the World Without Her” – both book and movie – should be no surprise. D’Souza’s entire career, beginning with his work at the right-wing Dartmouth Review and continuing through stints at the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, has been nurtured by far-right funders. His claim to being a “scholar” is grounded in his authorship of a series of polemical books, including “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” an exercise in ideological excess that even some conservative commentators found embarrassing. He champions traditional values, but in 2012 he resigned as president of the Christian King’s College after news that he had traveled with, and become engaged to, a woman who was separated from but still married to her husband.  Like his old friend Ann Coulter, D’Souza has learned that there is seemingly no end to the money to be made, and fame to be enjoyed, by repackaging and peddling ideological diatribes to the country’s right-wing activists.


Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 8/11/14

  • Cindy Jacobs' United States Reformation Prayer Network is launching a "21-day intercessory initiative" to stop corruption in America.
  • Matt Barber claims that he is now wanted for hate crimes in Canada.
  • If you were thinking that Jonathan Cahn's prophetic "Harbinger" warnings couldn't get any more ridiculous, you were wrong.
  • Ralph Reed tells Gordon Klingenschmitt that his Faith and Freedom Coalition will be bigger than the Christian Coalition in its heyday and is currently signing up a thousand new members a day.
  • A good question: "Is Deadly Ebola Outbreak the First Bowl of ‘Revelation’ Judgment?""
  • Focus on the Family's Bruce Hausknecht is hopeful that the Supreme Court will redeem itself and restore its credibility by refusing to recognize gay marriage when it finally gets a chance to rule on the issue.
  • Finally, Peter LaBarbera is not happy that President Obama made a video appearance at the Gay Games: "Obama couldn’t care less what God and the Bible say about sodomy. But no matter how cool the Left and ‘gay’ activists try to make homosexual behavior, it will always be detestable in the eyes of our Creator."

Ralph Reed Compares 'War On Faith Being Waged Here In America' To Violent Persecution Abroad

Glenn Beck invited Ralph Reed onto his program this morning to discuss the violent oppression of Christians in countries like Syria and Sudan, such as the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for her faith but has now reached safety in the U.S. Of course, the two inevitably slipped away from talking about the actual brutal persecution of Christians in those countries to the supposed persecution of Christians in America through things like health insurance coverage for contraception and same-sex marriage.

After talking about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Beck told Reed, “We have a problem with hostility to religion here in America too.”

When Beck asked Reed why American pastors aren’t speaking out enough about the persecution of Christians throughout the world, Reed said that one reason “is because we’ve had our own war on faith being waged here in America, not obviously with bombs and bullets and tear gas, but rather with court rulings and executive orders and laws that seek to marginalize the role of faith in our own society.”

“So if people are sitting around wondering, why aren’t we doing more, it’s because we’ve been callous about it in our own midst.”

Jack Abramoff Would Be Proud Of Latest GOP Casino Money Scandal

Allegations that a leading Republican group funneled Indian casino gambling money to Religious-Right-aligned candidates and organizations picked up steam this week when Politico uncovered an internal document linking the Republican State Leadership Committee to a potentially illegal campaign finance scheme.

Apparently, the RSLC worked with the chairman of the Alabama GOP to move money from an Indian casino to the RSLC, which would then in turn donate it back to the state party and several conservative groups under the name of the RSLC. The Republicans were concerned that disclosed donations from casino would be seen as “toxic” and “political suicide,” although the arrangement was likely in violation of state law.

If this scheme rings a bell, that might be because infamous GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff also worked with top conservative figures such as Ralph Reed — who now leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition — to funnel tribal casino money to Religious Right groups in Alabama.

While Reed continues to lead a major Religious Right group despite his role in the illegal endeavor, Abramoff has not been able to recover his previous clout.

However, he still speaks to ultraconservative outlets like WorldNetDaily, where he said in an interview last week that Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are both “pure Bolsheviks” bent on vastly growing the size of government and doing away with personal freedom.

Christian Reconstructionism And The GOP: 'Biblical Justice' vs Social Justice

There’s a reason so many Republican politicians seem to bring a religious fervor to their efforts to gut public institutions and social welfare spending. The modern day Religious Right draws much of its ideology from Christian Reconstructionists who teach that God gave specific duties to the government, the church, and the family.

According to this theological worldview, education and taking care of the poor are the responsibility of families and churches, and it is unbiblical for the government to take on these roles. That meshes well with the view of “constitutional conservatives” who believe, for example, the Constitution does not authorize any federal government role in education.

A stark example of the increasingly indistinct line between conservative Republicans and hard-core Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists (who believe the right kind of Christians are meant to have dominion over every aspect of society) can be found in the recent Republican primary victory of Michael Petrouka in a race for a county council seat in an Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka believes that any law that runs counter to God’s law is invalid, and that the Maryland General Assembly is itself no longer a valid legislative body. Here’s a concise summation of his approach to government:

Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.

It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!

This religion-inflected ideological view of government is not relegated to inhabitants of the far-right fringe like Peroutka. David Barton, an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012, claims that the Constitution was drawn directly from the Bible and the sermons of colonial preachers, and that its focus on individual freedom reflects the founders’ theology of individual salvation. In this view, the Tea Party’s belief in a radically limited federal government is not only a question of constitutional interpretation, it is a mandate of Holy Scripture.

Just this month, Barton promoted these views on “Praise the Lord,” the flagship program of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest religious network and America’s most-watched faith channel. “In the Bible, Jesus has a teaching about minimum wage,” Barton said. “In the Bible, Jesus has two teachings on capital gains tax.” The Bible, according to Barton, opposes those taxes as well as estate taxes and progressive income taxes. A flat tax is “what the Bible supports.”

On the same show Barton denounced government spending on welfare. “It’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and needy,” he said, “it’s the church’s responsibility.”

According to Barton, there are 205 verses in the Bible that instruct the family or church to take care of the poor, but not the government. “The government is told to do only one thing with taking care of the poor and that one thing is to make sure that when the poor come into court they get justice. That’s the only thing government is told….What we’re doing right now is for the first time in America we have ignored what the Bible says, the Bible says you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He went on to say that people “not having to work and getting free money…violates everything the Bible tells us” about dealing with the poor.

These themes are repeated in Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel, a booklet published last year by the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance. The booklet, written by Cornwall’s Calvin Beisner (according to him, at the request of the Family Research Council), was distributed at last month’s “Road to Majority” conference, which was organized by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

The premise of the booklet is that “social justice” is contrary to “Biblical justice.” If that sounds familiar, you may be recalling Glenn Beck’s diatribes against “social justice” a few years ago, when he urged people to leave their church if its website included the phrases “social justice” or “economic justice.”

It is wrong, Beisner writes, to try to mitigate inequality “through force of government.” Why? “Because God ordained the state to dispense justice, and the church to dispense grace.” According to Beisner, giving someone “unearned” benefits is grace, not justice. People should graciously serve the poor, he writes. “But if care for the needy is made a matter of justice to the needy rather than to God, then grace becomes law. Then, the needy—and those who merely profess to be needy—may claim the benefits of grace as their due by justice.”

In other words, government has no right to tax someone in order to help feed someone else.

That is a widely shared belief on the Religious Right. Speakers at Religious Right conferences like Reed’s June event, and Republican Members of Congress, can be heard justifying cuts in food stamps with an appeal to the Bible passage that David Barton quoted on TBN. That verse, depending on your translation, says something like “he who will not work shall not eat.”

Reps. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee cited that verse last year. Fincher said, “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” In equating taxation for social services with theft, Fincher echoes Barton, Beisner, and others. (In context, by the way, the work-to-eat verse referred to early Christians who were so confident of the imminent return of Christ that they quit doing anything.)

Poor people turning to the government, Beisner writes in his anti-social-justice booklet, results in “the stultifying effects of wealth redistribution by the coercive power of the state.” Even worse, he says, “it blinds [poor people] to their deepest need: the grace of God offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is another theme of the Republican Party’s right wing. Sharron Angle, the GOP’s 2010 Senate nominee in Nevada, said during her campaign that entitlement programs are “idolatry” because they “make government our God.” Farris Wilks, the Texas fracking billionaire who gives huge amounts to the Heritage Foundaiton and other right-wing groups, declares that “the Torah is set up on the free enterprise system” and that “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.” Former Sen. Jim DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation, says “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

Heritage is just one of the institutions working to make right-wing economics an article of faith just like opposition to gay rights and abortion. The Freedom Federation, one of the many right-wing entities created in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 election, brings both "mainstream" and fringe Religious Right groups together with the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Freedom Federation’s “Declaration of American Values” includes not only the expected rhetoric about traditional values, but also opposition to progressive taxation.

John Lofton, a right-wing pundit, is the spokesperson for Republican county council candidate Peroutka, and for Peroutka’s Christian Reconstructionist Institute on the Constitution, which has trained Tea Party activists on the biblical basis of the Constitution. Lofton has spoken on “God and Government” at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government. In 2012, in reference to an article about evangelicals disagreeing on budget priorities, Lofton wrote that “there should be no disagreement among those who believe the Bible is true. Because it is crystal clear that in God’s Word He gives NO AUTHORITY to civil government (Caesar) to give health, education or welfare to ANYBODY. If people need help, it is the role of the Church – God’s people – to provide this help and NOT government.”

Tea Party? Religious Right? GOP? Or all of the above?

Hobby Lobby And 'Biblical Economics'

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case that the Court’s conservative majority had “ventured into a minefield” with its decision. Many of those mines have already been placed by right-wing leaders who claim a religious grounding not only for anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-contraception positions, but also for opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation and government involvement in the alleviation of poverty.

In Hobby Lobby, the Court found for the first time that for-profit corporations have religious rights just like real people and can therefore make claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that they should be exempt from laws that burden their corporate “exercise” of religion. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was deeply skeptical of Justice Samuel Alito’s assertion that the decision was limited only to the contraception mandate and only for closely held corporations.

“Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work?” she asked. How would the Court justify applying its logic only to religious views about contraception?  “Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.’”

Ginsburg’s questions are not merely rhetorical. Conservative Catholic and evangelical leaders who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, including some U.S. bishops, declare themselves willing to engage in civil disobedience – maybe even martyrdom – in order to avoid any participation in abortion or any “anti-life act.” Nor, they declare, “will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

Alito’s majority opinion says Hobby Lobby does not extend the right to religion-based discrimination on account of a person’s race, but is conspicuously silent on other kinds of discrimination. That silence raises concerns that business owners could use the Hobby Lobby decision to opt out of a future federal LGBT civil rights law, or the Obama administration’s executive order against anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors.

Indeed, especially in light of Alito’s mention in Hobby Lobby that RFRA applies to the District of Columbia as a federal enclave, such a claim could be brought today to seek an exemption from D.C.’s Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.  What happens if and when a local bishop instructs Catholic business owners that it would be sinful to treat legally married gay employees the same as other married couples, or an evangelical businessman declares he will not “bend” to DC’s Human Rights Act?

As Zoe Carpenter writes for The Nation,

Business owners now have a new basis for trying to evade anti-discrimination laws and their responsibilities to their employees. Religious liberty is already the rallying cry for conservatives looking for a legal way to discriminate against LGBT Americans; other business owners have tried to use religion to justify opposition to minimum-wage laws and Social Security taxes. Faith groups are already trying to capitalize on the Hobby Lobby decision out of court; on Wednesday, a group of religious leaders asked the Obama administration for an exemption from a forthcoming federal order barring federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

To be clear, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was used as the basis for the Hobby Lobby decision applies only to federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations, including presidential executive orders, not to state laws.

The stories of business owners being told they cannot exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws have mostly involved questions about state-level civil rights and religious freedom statutes. Earlier this year the US Supreme Court declined to review a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that a wedding photography business had violated anti-discrimination law when it refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.

Although Hobby Lobby does not apply directly to state laws, it could influence state courts weighing religious claims by business owners in states with their own versions of RFRA.

The clash between religious conservatives and advocates for LGBT equality has been well publicized. But the minefield Ginsburg refers to extends well beyond traditional “social issues.” Religious Right leaders have been working hard to convince conservative evangelicals that the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-union, anti-welfare agenda is grounded in the Bible – an effort that started well before the Tea Party arrived on the scene.

David Barton is an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012. Barton’s “Christian nation” approach to history has been denounced by historians and scholars, including some who are themselves evangelical Christians, but it is embraced by conservative politicians who extol a divinely inspired American exceptionalism. Barton teaches that Jesus and the Bible are opposed to progressive taxation, minimum wage laws, collective bargaining, and “socialist union kind of stuff.” 

In addition, “mainstream” Religious Right leaders and conservative politicians are increasingly allied with a group of Pentecostal leaders who promote a “dominionist” theology that says God requires the right kind of Christians to take dominion over every aspect of society, including the business world. Many of them were sponsors of, and participants in, the prayer rally that Texas Gov. Rick Perry used to launch his ill-fated 2012 presidential campaign.

Thanks to previous Supreme Court decisions, alluded to and affirmed by Alito’s majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, the Court has for now seemingly closed the door to companies making a religious challenge to paying Social Security and federal income taxes based on their objection to a particular government program funded with those taxes. But the same might not be true for more targeted taxes and fees, or for laws regulating company behavior or the relationships between companies and their employees.

Opposition to unions has deep roots in Christian Reconstructionism, which has influenced the Religious Right’s ideology and political agenda. An early Christian Coalition Leadership manual, co-authored by Republican operative Ralph Reed in 1990, is a stunning example. A section titled “God’s Delegated Authority in the World” argues that “God established His pattern for work as well as in the family and in the church.” It cites four Bible passages instructing slaves to be obedient to their masters, including this one:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 

The conclusion to be drawn from these slaves-obey-your-masters passages?

Of course, slavery was abolished in this country many years ago, so we must apply these principles to the way Americans work today, to employees and employers: Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man. 

More recently, Religious Right leaders have cheered on corporate-funded attacks on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan. Does the Hobby Lobby ruling open another front in the right-wing war on workers? It is not uncommon for companies to refuse to cooperate with union organizers or negotiate with a properly organized union. Imagine that a business owner objects to a National Labor Relations Board finding that they have violated the National Labor Relations Act by arguing in federal court that their company’s religious beliefs prohibit them from dealing with unions?

It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. Since long before the Hobby Lobby case created an open invitation to business owners to raise religious objections to bargaining with unions, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has encouraged workers to raise religious objections to requirements that they join or financially support a union. Here’s an excerpt from their pamphlet, “Union Dues and Religious Do Nots.”

To determine whether your beliefs are religious instead of political or philosophical, ask yourself whether your beliefs are based upon your obligations to God. Do you simply dislike unions or hate this particular union’s politics? Or, does your desire to stand apart from the union arise from your relationship to God? If your beliefs arise from your decision to obey God, they are religious. 

It is possible that conservative courts may not give the same weight to religious claims about anti-gay discrimination or the Bible’s opposition to unions or minimum wage laws as they did to Hobby Lobby’s anti-contraception claims. Those claims were based on the owners’ belief – one that runs counter to medical scientific consensus – that some of the most effective forms of birth control work by causing abortions, and are therefore the moral equivalent of murder.

But as Justice Ginsburg pointed out, it is not clear how courts will differentiate between different types of claims. And it will be easier for claims to meet the new, lower threshold created by the Court in effectively altering the “substantial burden” test.

As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, rather than having to show that a person’s, or corporation’s, practice of religion has been burdened, they simply need to show that a law is “incompatible with” the person’s religious beliefs. Additionally, it seems that a wide array of regulations, conceivably including minimum wage laws, could be threatened by Alito’s reliance on the idea that having the government pay for the cost of implementing a regulation is less restrictive than having the company  bear the cost of a regulation it objects to.   

It is also not clear that the decision will remain “limited” to the 90 percent of American companies that qualify as closely held, which employ more than half of the nation’s workforce. The Court explicitly acknowledged the possibility that publicly traded corporations could raise such claims, but argued that it would be “unlikely.” But in this new world in which corporate religious claims can be made against government regulation, what is to prevent the CEO or board of a publicly traded organization from finding religion with regard to, say, greenhouse gas emissions?

The Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, promoted by the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance, declares as a matter of faith that earth’s ecosystem is not fragile and that efforts to reduce global warming, like regulating the emission of carbon dioxide, are not only “fruitless” and “harmful” but would discourage economic growth and therefore violate Biblical requirements to protect the poor from harm.

Justice Alito’s opinion rejects Justice Ginsburg’s characterization of the ruling’s “startling breadth.” But it is undeniable that the Court majority has opened the door to owners of for-profit corporations making an array of claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Justice Ginsburg writes in her dissent, “Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate, for the Court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood—combined with its other errors in construing RFRA—invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith.” For today’s right-wing leaders, who claim religious grounding for just about every aspect of their political ideology, there aren’t many forms of regulation that would be off-limits.

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