Rena Lindevaldsen

Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Campaign At Religious Right School Stacked With Anti-Gay Activists

Earlier today, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his campaign for president at Liberty University (LU), the ultraconservative school established by Jerry Falwell. His decision to choose Liberty is rather telling, considering that LU is a radically right-wing university with a law school staffed by some of the most viciously anti-gay Religious Right activists operating today.

Of course, given that LU itself was founded by Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11, this should not come as much of a surprise.

From the founding of Liberty's law school in 2004 until last year, Mat Staver served as dean while also serving as chairman of Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group, which has deep ties to the university. Staver is among the leading anti-gay Religious Right activists today and has a long anti-gay record, having blamed the 2008 financial crisis on banks that "actively promoted the homosexual agenda" and has said that lawmakers who support marriage equality "are not competent for public office." He has repeatedly called for a "revolution" to protest gay equality and warned that gay rights laws will increase violent crimekill people, lead to "forced homosexuality," and eventually destroy America and western civilization.

Staver continues to call for a revolution to fight gay marriage and is currently leading an effort to get anti-gay Christians to ignore any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans, saying that refusing to obey such a ruling is like refusing to turn a Jew over to the Nazis:

When Staver announced his resignation from Liberty's law school last year, LU President Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced that Rena Lindevaldsen would take over as interim dean. Lindevaldsen previously served as senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, where she was the lead attorney in a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Lindevaldsen even wrote a book about the saga while she and Liberty Counsel continue to insist that they have no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working at the Liberty University Law School.

Furthermore, Staver and Lindevaldsen even reportedly taught a class at Liberty based on the Miller case in which students were instructed that the "right" thing for a Christian lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" to uphold God's law. In 2012, the school was hit with a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in Miller's kidnapping.

When Lindevaldsen spoke at a right-wing conference earlier this month, she told the audience at a breakout panel on "sexual rebellion" that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the "big deal" is about LGBT rights, she responds that "it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God." Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is "the heart of where Satan’s attacking":

Matt Barber is another Liberty University/Liberty Counsel crossover. He formerly served as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action and still co-hosts Liberty Counsel's daily radio program with Staver, while also holding positions as associate dean and adjunct professor at Liberty.

Baber happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it "love.'"

He has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens end their own lives because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."

Barber has called marriage equality the "bidding of the Devil" and warned that by legalizing same-sex marriage, America is " tempting the wrath of God." He claims that HIV/AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality. He has described homosexuality as a "cancer" that prompted Noah’s flood and will ultimately lead to Communism. Barber has said that Satan is behind gay rights efforts, asserting that demonic "spiritual pressure" was driving the campaign to end the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay members.

He has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he'd like to see a ban on "gay propaganda" in the U.S., as well as defending Uganda's harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.

Last year, Barber launched BarbWire.com, a right-wing website that quickly became an online repository for pieces written by some of the most viciously anti-gay pundits active today.

Several other anti-gay activists also hold teaching positions at Liberty University, including Shawn Akers, who has said that measures to prevent the bullying of LGBT youth are "a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and Communist countries" and accused gay rights advocates of bullying Christians and persecuting them in the same way as Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews.

Judith Reisman is also a professor at Liberty - that is, when she is not busy fighting to criminalize pornography or claiming that schools are brainwashing children into becoming gay and that gay rights advocates are emulating the Nazis. Reisman has claimed that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Gay-Straight Alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth and promote pedophilia.

Ken Blackwell, who earlier this month blamed gay activists for racist chants and blamed shooting sprees on gay marriage, likewise holds a teaching position at the university. Blackwell has previously compared gay people with arsonists and kleptomaniacs and same-sex couples with farm animals.

Any way you cut it, it is clear that Liberty University is home of a slew of anti-gay bigots. The fact that Ted Cruz chose this as the venue at which to announce his presidential campaign speaks volumes.

A Spiritual Battle For America's Future: Five Takeaways From The Religious Right's Awakening Conference

On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.

At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. 

Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.

1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail

While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.

The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”

Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.

Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”

Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.

2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues

Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.

Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:

Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:

This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”

3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism

Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.

Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.

What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.

Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:

4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It

Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.

Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”

“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”

The RNC’s Connelly also made a plug for conservative churches to engage in partisan politics , urging pastors to buck IRS rules preventing politicking from the pulpit and declaring that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual.”

5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other

One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.

Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.

Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":

It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.

Anti-Gay Activist: Marriage Equality Is 'The Heart Of Where Satan's Attacking'

As we mentioned earlier, the mood at Saturday’s Awakening conference in Florida around the issue of gay marriage was utter panic, and nowhere was that expressed more clearly than in a panel titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Sexual Rebellion: Freedom Under Fire,” moderated by off-the-rails anti-gay pundit Matt Barber and featuring a pastor, two “ex-gay” activists, and Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty University dean who has murky ties with the case of an “ex-lesbian” who fled the country with her daughter to defy a court order giving the child's other mother custody.

Lindevaldsen set the tone for the discussion when she lamented that too many conservative Christians aren’t committed to fighting gay rights and instead ask her “why is this such a big deal and why does it matter?”

"It's a big deal because it's a big deal to God," she declared.

Quoting the late Chuck Colson , she told the audience, “In every action we take, we are either helping to create a hell on Earth, or bringing down a foretaste of heaven…We are either advancing the rule of Satan or establishing the reign of God.”

“There’s no middle ground, there’s no neutrality, there is no compromise,” she added, telling Christians who are on the fence about gay rights that “it’s not loving” to let gay people “go on not knowing that God has a better plan for their lives, this is not the way that God designed them to be.”

“This is the heart of where Satan’s attacking,” she said. “He is seeking to destroy human sexuality and marriage. Why? Because we are the reflection, marriage is the reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church. And so if you’re going to destroy the only human reflection we have of that, we’re going to destroy marriage.”

Our friends at American Bridge captured the audio:

Later in the panel, “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan similarly warned Christians not to be taken in by LGBT rights, saying that the Human Rights Campaign’s famous equals sign bumper stickers are “not about equality” but “about dominance” and hide an effort to destroy the Constitution.

(Audio again via American Bridge):

When you see that blue bumper sticker with that bright yellow sign, it’s not about equality, it’s about dominance. It’s about silencing any voice that’s against what they want to do. And the real issue is this — I want you to understand this. The Constitution of the United States is a Calvinist document — I’m not a Calvinist — it’s a Christian document, it was written by reformers, based on the word of God. The problem that the secular left has, secular progressives, whatever label you want to put on them, the anti-God folks, our Constitution. And their goal is to undo it, if that means by reinterpreting it rewriting it, but it is to undo it.

So know this, especially the homosexual agenda, if I go down the list, I got a thing called “the big pink plan for a lavender culture,” another talk I do, which goes to what the agenda is. I was there when they were talking about what they want to do. It’s not about equality, it’s about dominance.

Staver: Same-Sex Marriage Not A Right Because Homosexuality Used To Be A Crime

On a recent episode of Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom” radio program, Mat Staver argued that marriage equality can’t be a fundamental right because it’s not “deeply rooted in our history that you have to protect it,” and in fact “homosexuality has always been considered a crime against nature” and “something that’s been criminalized in our culture.”

A fundamental right in constitutional law has to either be specifically articulated in an enumeration of the Constitution — so a fundamental right would be freedom of speech, freedom of religion, so it’s part of the First Amendment, it’s actually absolutely articulated — and if it’s not articulated, the court has said it has to be deeply rooted in our history such that if you were to not protect it, it would literally unravel the concept of ordered liberty that is so essential to who we are and it is so deeply rooted in our history that you have to protect it. Parental rights can be something that falls within a category such as that.

Now, here, obviously, the issue is, did same-sex marriage become a fundamental right? And the answer clearly is no. If they really were honest, it’s no. And to the contrary, same-sex marriage or homosexuality has always been considered a crime against nature. Instead of protection deeply rooted, it’s been something that’s been criminalized in our culture, not just in America but around the world.

Later in the program Staver discussed the recent appeals court decision striking down Virginia’s marriage equality ban with Liberty University Law School’s Rena Lindevaldsen. Lindevaldsen argued that because the court acknowledged that people in same-sex relationships sometimes raise children from opposite-sex relationships that it undermined the argument that being gay is a fundamental characteristic. “Now they’re saying, by the way, we can have relationships with whoever we want to and we still get this right to marriage,” she lamented.

Religious Right Panelists: Gay Rights Activists are Christ-Hating Fascists

At Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference, gays were portrayed as enemies of religious freedom who are bent on turning public schools into indoctrination centers using the issue of bullying as a “Trojan horse.”  Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, who describes himself as ex-gay, complained that New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law is being used to bully Christian students, and hollered that the law is actually fascism.

You don’t need a law, inculcated and put into code, to talk about bullying. What this bully bill is is behavior modification. That’s the job of the parents and the teachers and we don’t need that put into law. This is fascism! This is fascism! We need to put a swastika on it!

Quinlan complained that public officials, including Gov. Chris Christie, would not listen to Religious Right objections to the bill because gay rights advocates had exploited the suicide of a bullied boy:

Because one boy -- and the homosexual agenda is extremely good at this, when there’s a disaster -- one boy jumps off the George Washington Bridge, kills himself in the Hudson River. And they seized that moment and they took it and used it to their advantage. And what did we do? We said “Oh, that’s terrible that that happened,” but we don’t have any statements to make when these issues do happen. This is where we have to have better messaging.

Matt Barber, one of the most ferociously anti-gay voices in public life, used a question about the treatment of an anti-gay protestor to charge that gays are motivated by hatred for Jesus Christ and that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin-condemned “culture of death.”

The question was, an elderly woman was at a homosexual rally and she was carrying this big styrofoam cross and she was knocked around, it was caught on film, no charges were filed, they took her cross, and stomped it, and crushed into tiny bits. That is a microcosm of what we’re up here – and I thought, something that immediately occurred to me was, wasn’t that a metaphor for what we’re up against. It’s about the cross. It’s about the cross and a hatred of Christ, who is what? The way, the truth, and the life.  They hate the way, which is Christ, they hate the truth, which they are in conflict with, and they hate life. This is a culture of death we are talking about here, and the wages of sin is what? Is death. The homosexual lifestyle astronomically, from a statistical standpoint, leads to death. The wages of sin is death.

Other speakers on the panel were Rena Lindevaldsen, a Liberty University law professor and associate dean, and Cynthia Dunbar, a Religious Right activist who served on the Texas state board of education and who is now also a law professor at Liberty. Dunbar bragged in her conference bio that her work has earned her a “position” on Right Wing Watch.

Michele Bachmann to Headline Conference with 9/11 & Sandy Hook Truther, Birthers and Anti-Gay Activists

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) will be joining some of the most extreme right-wing activists in the country at the upcoming Awakening 2013 conference.

Tim Tebow Scheduled to Address another Anti-Gay Venue: Liberty University

Recently, New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow pulled out of a scheduled appearance at Robert Jeffress’ megachurch “due to new information” he received regarding Jeffress' view. While he never specified what the “new information” was, Tebow was almost certainly referring to Jeffress’ virulent attacks on gays and lesbians, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam and President Obama.

Yet just weeks after withdrawing from speaking at Jeffress's church, Tebow is now set to address Liberty University later this month at a conference geared towards men’s issues in a speech that is closed to the public.

The school was founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell — it is now run by his son — who has blamed gays and liberals for the September 11 attacks, supported racist laws in the U.S. and abroad and attacked the Teletubbies for “modeling the gay life style.”

Liberty University bans gay students and shut down its College Democrats chapter over the party’s views on gay rights. The university has hosted multiple anti-gay conferences and their law school is being sued over its alleged role in helping Lisa Miller disobey a court order and kidnap her daughter to Central America in order to avoid transferring custody to the girl's other mother, her former partner.

Liberty University’s Vice President and law school dean Mathew Staver has defended the criminalization of homosexuality in Malawi, promoted the dangerous ex-gay therapy and warned that President Obama supports “forced homosexuality.” Furthermore, Staver has claimed that gay rights laws are part of an Antichrist spirit that lead to crime, child molestation and death, along with the destruction of America.

Staver’s fellow Liberty University dean Matt Barber has defended a Nigerian law outlawing homosexual relationships, described the gay rights movement as “Satanic,” claimed that gay youth who committed suicide took their own lives because they “know what they are doing is unnatural,” accused gay rights advocates of supporting pedophilia (along with fascism and Communism) and defined homosexuality as “one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it ‘love.’” He has also maintained that liberals are like Baal worshippers who hate God and are working with Islamists to destroy Christianity and that Obama should be impeached for backing same-sex domestic partner benefits.

Another professor, Rena Lindevaldsen, has claimed that Satan makes people gay and is behind the LGBT rights movement .

If Jeffress’ anti-gay remarks were too extreme for Tebow, they pale in comparison to the things regularly said by representatives of Liberty University.

Perhaps it is time for Tebow to take another look at some of this “new information” about Liberty.

Liberty Counsel Warns Gay Marriage Will Keep Boys and Girls from Becoming Men and Ladies

Back in 2010, when a federal district court in California heard the first legal challenge to the anti-gay Proposition 8, the judge asked the attorney defending Prop 8 how marriage equality would hurt the ability of straight couples to bear and raise children. The attorney sputtered and answered, “I don’t know.” A key witness for Prop 8’s supporters had the same answer, and later changed his mind to support marriage equality.

Four years later, the case is coming before the Supreme Court, and marriage equality opponents are still struggling to answer that question. In an amicus brief [pdf] filed with the court last week, the anti-gay Liberty Counsel took a shot at it. If marriage equality is achieved, Liberty Counsel argues, “Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.”

Not only does Proposition 8 further the state’s interest in steering childrearing into the husband-wife marriage model, but it furthers the important interest in providing male and female role models in the family. Male gender identity and female gender identity are each uniquely important to a child’s development. As a result, one very significant justification for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is because children need a mother and a father. We live in a world demarcated by two genders, male and female. There is no third or intermediate category. Sex is binary. By striking down Proposition 8, this Court will be making a powerful statement: our government no longer believes children deserve mothers and fathers. In effect, it would be saying: “Two fathers or two mothers are not only just as good as a mother and a father, they are just the same.”

The government promotion of this idea will likely have some effect even on people who are currently married, who have been raised in a particular culture of marriage. But this new idea of marriage, sanctioned by law and government, will certainly have a dramatic effect as the next generation’s attitudes toward marriage, childbearing, and the importance of mothers and fathers are formed. By destroying the traditional definition of marriage, the family structure will be dramatically transformed. Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.

The repercussions of this are incalculable and will reshape the culture in which we live. Many children learn appropriate gender roles by having interaction with both their mother and their father and by seeing their mother and their father interact together with one another. By redefining marriage to state that this is not a family structure that the state wants to foster and encourage, this Court will be overturning centuries of historical understandings of family and the home.

To give you an idea of the kind of parenting that Liberty Counsel supports, its lawyers Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, who are named on its brief, are also representing a woman accused of kidnapping her daughter rather than let her have contact with her other mother (the woman’s former same-sex partner).
 

Liberty Law School and Others Hit With RICO Lawsuit Over Lisa Miller Kidnapping

Yesterday Kenneth Miller was convicted of aiding an international parental kidnapping for the role he played in helping Lisa Miller (no relation) flee the country with her daughter rather than abide by a court order transferring custody to her former partner, Janet Jenkins.

But that was not the only interesting development in the case, as Jenkins has now filed a civil RICO lawsuit [PDF] against Kenneth Miller and several others who allegedly played a role in helping Lisa Miller kidnap her daughter and leave the country, including Liberty University Law School and Thomas Road Baptist Church:

 41. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, in 2009 Victoria Zodhiates (now Hyden) was an employee of Response Unlimited, Inc., and also a "student worker" at Liberty University School of Law. On information and belief, Victoria Zodhiates sent an email during this time period to her co-workers at the law school requesting donations for supplies to send to Lisa Miller to enable her to remain outside the country. Lisa Miller's attorney, Matthew Staver was the Dean of the Law School and Ms. Zodhiates's boss. Matthew Staver and Philip Zodhiates were also personal
acquaintances at this time. On September 20, 2009, both Philip Zodhiates and Victoria Hyden called Lisa Miller's father, Terry Miller in Tennessee to assist in arranging her and Isabella's transportation from a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Waynesboro, Virginia, from whence they would depart for Canada and Nicaragua the next day.

42. In early November, 2009, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Virginia by Philip Zodhiates who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua by sending them with his son's school teacher who was taking some children on a mission trip to Managua. Philip Zodhiates arranged for the teacher, John Collmus, to deliver the bags at the airport to Timothy Miller. The bags also contained some supplies for Lisa Miller, such as peanut butter.

...

47. Lisa Miller's attorneys Mathew Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen also routinely instructed their Law School students that the correct course of action for a person in Lisa Miller's situation would be to engage in "civil disobedience" and defy court orders.

48. Also in 2009, TRBC Head Pastor Jonathan Falwell was among several religious leaders who made a call for "Christian civil disobedience" and published a public declaration, known as The Manhattan Declaration stating that they:

"will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor 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."

49. Hence, Defendants TRBC and its related ministry Liberty University School of Law encouraged its agents to disregard state laws governing parental rights, particularly Vermont's law giving rights to members of same-sex families. The TRBC and Liberty University School of Law through its public declaration promoted, condoned and explicitly ratified its agent's tortious, racketeering activity. These agents and employees have followed this direction, making TRBC and Liberty University School of Law liable in respondeat superior for the consequences.

...

57. At the trial of Kenneth Miller in August 2012, a number of Lisa Miller's friends and supporters testified, including Defendant Wright, and several members of the PIC. When asked if any of them had met or heard of Philip Zodhiates, the answer was no. At the trial, the government introduced phone records that showed phone calls made from Philip Zodhiates's cell phone between 1:28pm and 1:30pm on September 22, 2009, to a cell phone with an Orlando area code that is registered to Liberty Counsel, a landline registered to Liberty Counsel, and a landline registered to Liberty University School of Law. Mathew Staver, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, splits his time between Lynchburg, Virginia and Orlando, Florida. At the time that the calls were made, Philip Zodhiates was still en route back to Virginia after depositing Lisa Miller and Isabella near the Canadian border.

58. Lisa Miller's attorneys, Matthew Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen have at all times maintained that they did not know their client's location to various courts in Vermont (including in sworn testimony of Rena Lindevaldsen) and Virginia, and to the press that she simply stopped communicating with them and disappeared.

59. Meanwhile, Matthew Staver's acquaintance, Philip Zodhiates, and his daughter Victoria, an assistant in the Law School knew of Lisa Miller's whereabouts and solicited donations from other Law School employees for her aid. Upon information and belief, other law school employees who spoke to Victoria about Lisa Miller's whereabouts were too intimidated to come forward to law enforcement for fear of angering Dean Staver and losing their jobs. During the time that Lisa and Isabella were missing, Dean Staver fired several members of the admissions and financial aid department who were under his supervision. To this day, Victoria Hyden is still an employee of the law school, even though her tortious conduct involving Isabella Miller-Jenkins has been in public court records for over a year. Also, while Lisa Miller and Isabella were missing, Lisa Miller's attorneys continued to press appeals on Lisa Miller's behalf until the last appeals were exhausted in November 2010 (more than a year after she was missing), stating that they had advance instructions from Lisa Miller as to her wishes for the ongoing litigation.

...

62. Based on the foregoing, all of the Defendants named herein, in both their individual capacities and as agents of TRBC, Liberty University Law School, Response Unlimited, Inc., and CAM are liable for conspiring with Lisa Miller and with each other to kidnap Isabella Miller-Jenkins, assure her continued detention outside the State of Vermont, and for conspiring with Kenneth Miller to participate in the affairs of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite Brotherhood through a pattern of racketeering activity .. Defendants are also liable for conspiring to violate Janet Jenkins' and Isabella Miller-Jenkins' rights to a parent-child relationship on account oflsabella having two mothers instead of a mother and a father, and Defendant Wright is liable under 42 U.S.C. 1986 for failing to prevent the violation of Plaintiffs' civil rights.

The New York Times Sheds New Light on the Lisa Miller Kidnapping Case

New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm has a big front-page story in Sunday’s paper on a case that readers of RWW are familiar with: the disappearance of Lisa Miller. Eckholm traveled to Nicaragua to talk with the Mennonite communities that have helped harbor Miller and her daughter Isabella on their flight from United States law enforcement and from Isabella’s other legal parent, Miller’s former partner Janet Jenkins of Vermont. Miller, who kidnapped her daughter rather than allow her to have visitation rights with Jenkins, has become a cause celebre among the Religious Right, a supposed victim of anti-Christian persecution.

Eckholm supplies us with an illuminating and creepy anecdote about a family of hamsters left to die in Miller’s abandoned house, and casts some light on the thinking of those who helped harbor Miller in Nicaragua. But there’s one important piece of the puzzle that remains a mystery: did Miller’s attorneys at Liberty University have anything to do with Miller’s disappearance? LU Law School dean Mat Staver tells Eckholm that he was surprised as anyone when Miller disappeared, as he has since it first became known.

But Liberty University’s relationship with Miller has always been a little complicated. Rena Lindevaldsen, an LU Law School dean and Miller’s attorney before she disappeared, has now written a book arguing Miller’s case. And even before Miller kidnapped with Isabella, Lindevaldsen and Staver were teaching Miller’s case as an example of a situation where the demands of “God’s law” trump those of “man’s law.” Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner talked with several students who had taken a required class from the two deans and got her hands on a copy of an exam that quizzed students on what to do in Lisa Miller’s situation:

Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”
...
That semester’s mid-term exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”

Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers to be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”

Still, some knew what they needed to “regurgitate,” in order to get a good grade. “It was obvious by the substance of the class during the semester the answer that they wanted,” said one of the students. “The majority of people that I am acquainted with who did get As wrote that because that was expected of them.”

One of the students who got an A said, “I told them she needed to engage in civil disobedience and seriously consider leaving the country,” adding, “I knew what I needed to write.”

Given what was expected of them on the exam, and the tenor of the class, there is “not a lot of shock among the students about the current developments,” said one of the students, referring to the revelation that Miller is in hiding in Nicaragua. “Everybody semi-suspected that Liberty Counsel had something to do with her disappearance.”


Of course, we have no way of knowing what Liberty Counsel knew and when they knew it. But Posner’s reporting shows that it’s certainly worth looking into.

LaBarbera and Lindevaldsen Say No to Gay Judges, Sad Sally Ride ‘Fell into Lesbianism’

Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera continued his discussion with Liberty University Law School’s Rena Lindevaldsen on Friday. The two revisited the topic of openly gay judges, specifically the Virginia prosecutor who was rejected from a judgeship simply because he was gay. That discrimination was ok, Lindevaldsen said, because “if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge”:

Lindevaldsen: I think we can equate this not only with the judiciary, but the same debate is taking place, you know, who we want to serve as our schoolteachers, for example. We want moral, upstanding individuals to serve as judges, and this debate’s taking place with schoolteachers too. So if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge.

I think it goes to fit moral character and I think that the necessary qualification of any judicial appointment. And therefore it is relevant, based on your conduct, to judge and decide whether you should be allowed to sit in the judiciary.

Immediately after Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera made the case that gay judicial nominees should be defined by and excluded for their sexual orientation, they changed the rules when it came to another prominent example of an openly gay person in public life. Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera heaped scorn on gay rights activists who have had the nerve to call the late Sally Ride, who lived for 27 years with her same-sex partner, a gay pioneer. Emphasizing Ride’s sexual orientation, LaBarbera said -- expanding on a tweet from shortly after her death --would be like defining her as an alcoholic if she had a drinking problem:

LaBarbera: They’re always using opportunities to promote what their version of reality on homosexuality. And really quickly, Sally Ride, another great example. Sally Ride was the first female astronaut, the first…and she had many amazing accomplishments. Unfortunately she also fell into lesbianism and left her husband, she was married, she ended up living in a lesbian lifestyle. She was not public about it. Now gay activists, like Michelangelo Signorile, are using her homosexual, you know, the fact that she practiced the homosexual lifestyle, to say, ‘Hey, this is another gay hero.”

Kirkwood: She was a female astronaut, now she’s the ‘lesbian astronaut.’

LaBarbera: Now she’s the lesbian astronaut, and you better believe in textbooks like in California where they’re teaching gay history now, there’s going to be Sally Ride. So people are going to learn Sally Ride as a, and we’re going a bit over here, they’re going to learn Sally Ride, Rena, as a gay hero, even though she wasn’t even public about it in her life.

Lindevaldsen: Yeah, because they need to contort our history to show that we’ve accepted this all along and that it’s perfectly normal, and see you too can do this and become great things. And you can, you can accomplish things, but that’s not who she was, that doesn’t define who she was and what she accomplished.

LaBarbera: And Rena, I tweeted, and I knew this was going to get me in trouble, but I tweeted, ‘Did she have a drinking problem too?’ In my tweet, I said that she made great accomplishments. But she should not be, and I didn’t, of course she doesn’t, I don’t know if she had a drinking problem or not, but my point was the fact that she practiced homosexuality would be about as relevant as saying, ‘Sally Ride, hey people who drink can be great.’ I mean it’s still immoral behavior, it’s very sad to me that she was involved in that lifestyle. The fact that she was in that lifestyle doesn’t take away from the great accomplishments that she had. But the point is gay identity politics now wants to seize her as a hero.

 

Anti-Gay Leaders Call for Prayer Movement to stop 'Homosexual Tornado' coming to 'Destroy America'

At the Awakening 2012’s panel on the “LGBT Agenda,” Lou Engle, who was not a panelist but an audience member, called for Religious Right leaders to launch a “massive concerted prayer movement” to counter the demonic “principalities and powers” behind gay rights activism. Panelists including Rena Lindevaldsen and Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, and former Texas board of education member Cynthia Dunbar jumped over each other in expressing their hope that Engle or another conservative would lead such a movement to stop the “two tornadoes coming to destroy America,” which he said are “the homosexual and abortion tornadoes.”

Engle, who brought The Call prayer rally to Uganda to help rally support for the country’s proposed “kill the gays bill,” lamented that he gets “blasted” over his anti-gay work and is “haunted that God has not opened the door for me to go after this thing.” Lindevaldsen agreed that “we need a prayer movement because a spiritual battle is at the root of this.”

It seems that Engle’s first prayer initiative, StoneWall Now, a “nation wide prayer movement” to “stand in the gap crying to God to restrain the homosexual ideology” isn’t going so well as its website is offline.

Watch:

Engle: I think we need a massive, concerted prayer movement to deal with principalities and powers and pray that God would release laborers into the harvest field.

Barber: If there is anybody in the room who is adept that leading that ...

Dunbar: You’ve got that in your heart, with your spirit, and we’re with you.

Quinlan: We need that.

Barber: Did you volunteer yourself, Lou?

Engle: In 2006, we did 50 days and 50 nights of intercession of seven young people, we were given a dream of two tornadoes coming to destroy America and they were the homosexual and abortion tornadoes. In the dream I was given a sight to raise up intercession to confront those tornadoes.

Quinlan: Please.

Engle: And Bound4Life was raised up but I'm haunted that God has not opened the door for me to go after this thing, I’ve tried, I’ve gotten blasted.

Barber: It’s time.

Engle: I don’t know how to do it but I am crying out to God for an answer.

Lindevaldsen: Meet with us afterwards ... we need a prayer movement because a spiritual battle is at the root of this.
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