Robert George

Steve Lonegan Gets Job Pushing Gold Standard With Anti-Gay Group That Supported His Campaign

The Star-Ledger reported earlier this week that Steve Lonegan, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Senate in last year’s New Jersey special election, has a new job: leading the anti-gay, anti-choice American Principles Project’s sideline effort to bring back the gold standard.

Lonegan told The Auditor he is now the director of monetary policy for the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group. He plans to work to spread the gospel about what he says as the Federal Reserve’s “failed policy” and the need to bring back the gold standard.

“We will be working hard in states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to see to it that the (presidential) primary candidates in both parties are forced to talk about this issue,” Lonegan said. “They can’t hide from it.”

The American Principles Project was started in 2009 by Robert George, the intellectual leader of the anti-gay movement, to pressure Republican politicians to embrace both fiscal and social conservative policies. APP currently employs Maggie Gallagher, who founded the National Organization for Marriage along with George and served as NOM’s first president.

In his new job, it seems that Lonegan will unite the main political interests of APP’s chairman Sean Fieler, a little-known hedge fund manager who has become a major donor to the Religious Right and to social conservative causes in New York and New Jersey.

As we noted in a profile of Fieler earlier this year, the gold standard seems to be a pet project of his, so much so that an idea that is widely dismissed among mainstream economists has become a major policy platform of the American Principles Project. The issue was mentioned nowhere in the group’s original mission statement and doesn’t seem to have appeared on the group’s website until Fieler came on board as chairman in 2010.

Fieler and the American Principles Project have a history with Lonegan. Fieler is the major funder of the American Principles Fund , a super PAC affiliated with APP, which last year spent nearly $100,000 running anti-choice ads against Lonegan’s Democratic opponent Cory Booker. Fieler himself has maxed out personal contributions to Lonegan’s recent campaigns, giving his candidate committee $10,400 over the past two years.

Now, Lonegan will bring his unabashed anti-choice and anti-gay politics (remember when he speculated about whether Booker was gay?) to help unite the American Principles Project’s social and economic policy priorities.

The Star-Ledger notes that until this year, APP employed Booker’s current Republican Senate opponent Jeff Bell.

Robert George: Marriage Equality Judges Ignore His Brilliant Arguments

Robert George, the reigning intellectual godfather of the Religious Right, complains in an interview with the Christian Post today that judges who recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry are not only ignoring the Constitution, they are ignoring his own brilliant arguments.

George, co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, published a law review article and book, “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” with Sherif Gergis and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson. George is quite proud that Justice Samuel Alito cited their arguments in his dissent to the Supreme Court decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act. But he cannot accept that any judge with a commitment to the Constitution could possibly disagree with him.

George broadly renounces all judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality as engaging in a “pure ideological power play.” He acknowledges that marriage equality rulings have come from judges nominated by both Republicans and Democrats, but portrays them all as “liberal judges who don’t like traditional morality and the traditional understanding of marriage and want to overturn it.”

“So they’re abusing their offices, they’re usurping the authority of the elected representatives of the people, and sometimes the people themselves acting through referendums and initiative, to impose their own vision, their own preferences, their own political policy preferences on the American people. It’s not right and it’s unconstitutional.”

George is incensed that judges are applying the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to same-sex couples, because he says the authors of that mid-19th Century amendment were not thinking about marriage equality.

“It’s just an offense against constitutionalism, against the rule of law, against the idea that the people rule themselves in a republican form of government, to seize on a provision like the Equal Protection Clause and to overturn the laws of marriage.”

But most of all, George cannot seem to accept that an ideologically diverse set of judges, in dozens of opinions, could have considered and rejected his arguments.

“It seems to me that the courts, if they’re going to strike down the marriage laws in the name of the 14th amendment, do have an obligation to at least engage the argument that we presented, but so far they haven’t. And I know the reason why they haven’t. The reason why they haven’t… is that they don’t have an answer for the argument.”

That is ridiculous. But don’t take my word for it. I ran Robert George’s claims by Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a major player in marriage equality advocacy. Here’s what he said:

Judges across the country have considered the arguments put forward by Professor George and others—that marriage is essentially tied to heterosexual procreation and to the alleged “sexual complementarity” of men and women—and have overwhelmingly concluded that they are not persuasive. In fact, most of those courts have held that such arguments are so tenuous and illogical that they fail even the lowest level of constitutional scrutiny.

 

Rick Santorum Presents Latest 'Religious Persecution' Movie

Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night.

Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution channels by building a network of thousands of tech-equipped churches who will sell tickets for "One Generation Away" and other movies. He says the long-term strategy is to bring more people into churches and put the church back at the center of the culture.

"One Generation Away" is described as a documentary, but it’s really a preaching-to-the-choir call to arms for conservative Christians and pastors to get more involved in culture war battles while they still have the freedom to do so. Among the film’s producers are Donald and Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association, which Santorum said is packaging a shorter version of the movie into more of an activist tool.

The title comes from Ronald Reagan – specifically from a speech to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1961, a time in which Reagan was working with conservatives to rally opposition to Medicare – “socialized medicine”:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

The thrust of "One Generation Away" is that religious freedom in the United States is disappearing fast, and if the church doesn’t fight for it now, it will soon be gone forever. Before running the film on Monday, Santorum quoted Cardinal Francis George, who said during the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to be a martyr.” That’s just the kind of hyperbolic “religious persecution” rhetoric we have come to expect from Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy.

At one point toward the end of the movie, it seems as if the filmmakers might be striking a more reasonable tone, with a couple of speakers saying that Christians should stand up for the rights of people of different faiths — even though the AFA’s chief spokesman opposes First Amendment protections for non-Christians— and others actually acknowledging that it is problematic for American Christians to be complaining of “religious persecution” over policy disputes when Christians and others are facing horrific, deadly persecution in many other parts of the world.

But that caution is quickly abandoned as the movie makes a direct comparison of the status of the Christian church in America with the church in Germany as the Nazis came to power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who tried to mobilize German Christians to resist Nazi tyranny and was executed by the regime, is held up as the model that American Christians need to be willing to follow.

Eric Metaxas, a Bonhoeffer biographer who became a Religious Right folk hero when he questioned President Obama’s faith at a National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, warned that if the church doesn’t link arms to fight, all will be lost. “The good news,” he said, “is that the American church is slightly more attuned to the rumbling heard in the distance than the German church was in the 30s. The bad news is, only slightly, right?”

The movie cuts to Mike Huckabee saying that Bonhoeffer could have saved his life if he had been willing to soften his faith, but that instead he resisted and rebuked the Nazi regime. And then we’re back to Metaxas to complete the Nazi analogy:

 “The parallel today is simply that. You have a government, a state, which is getting larger and larger and more and more powerful, and is beginning to push against the church. There’s a window of opportunity where we can fight. If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency we have in America now. And people that’s incendiary, or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry, I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”

Filmmakers said at the screening that they had conducted 75 interviews for the movie, and it sure feels like it.  It includes names that will be well-known to RWW readers, like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Alveda King, Robert George, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.

Also appearing are Rep. Doug Collins; Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress; Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the infamous and discredited Regnerus “family structures” study; Stephen McDowell of the dominionist Providence Foundation; Gregory Thornbury of Kings College; lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Beckett Fund, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; and a number of pastors.

The film also includes interviews with some opponents of the Religious Right, including Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Princeton’s Peter Singer, and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Santorum told the audience at Heritage that he wishes he had even more of his opponents included in the film because “they scare the hell out of me” and would help motivate the right-wing base.

In order to keep the movie from being one brutally long succession of talking heads, the filmmakers resort to a tactic of constantly shifting scenes, a couple of seconds at a time, in a way that feels like they got a volume discount on stock images of Americana: boats on the water, kids playing softball, families walking together. There are also odd random fillers, like close-ups of the pattern on a couch in the room in which a speaker is sitting. The endless, repetitive succession of images actually makes the film feel even longer than it actually is. (Zack Ford at ThinkProgress had a similar reaction to this technique.)

The meat of the film, or the “red meat,” mixes the personal stories of people being  victimized by intolerant secularists and/or gay activists with miniature David Bartonesque lectures on the Christian roots of America’s founding; the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution; the notion that the American government is trying to replace “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” and require any expression of faith to take place behind church walls; and the disgracefulness of making any analogies between the civil rights movement and the LGBT equality movement. The 1947 Supreme Court decision in which Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase was invoked by the Court and “changed everything” is portrayed as nothing more than a reflection of Justice Hugo Black’s hatred of Catholics.

Featured “persecution” stories include:

  • a long advertisement for Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, which recently won its legal battle against the contraception mandate;
  • a baker and florist who ran afoul of their state’s anti-discrimination laws when they refused to provide services for a same-sex couple getting married;
  • cheerleaders at a public high school in Texas who were challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for creating football game banners featuring Christian scriptural quotes;  
  • Catholic Charities being “forced” to give up adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples;
  • an ACLU challenge to a large cross at the Mt. Soledad war memorial; and
  • the supposed frontal attack on the religious freedom of military chaplains as a result of allowing LGBT members of the armed forces to serve openly. On this issue, Tony Perkins declares, “The military is being used as a vanguard of radical social policy. And in order for that policy to permeate and to take root, you’ve got to take out the religious opposition.”

In spite of the parade of horrors, the movie tries to end on an upbeat note, saying that the early Christian church expanded while it was being suppressed, and that it will only take “one spark of revival” to change the nation.  A familiar theme at Religious Right conferences is that blame for America’s decline rests with churches that don’t speak up and pastors who don’t preach or lead aggressively enough. One Generation Away ends on this point, telling Christian pastors it is their responsibility to wake up and challenge their congregants to live their faith “uncompromisingly.”

During the Q&A after the screening, Santorum said the fact that Hobby Lobby was a 5-4 decision demonstrated the importance of the 2016 election. “Part of me almost wishes we’d lost,” says Santorum, because that would have made the threat clearer to conservative activists. “We are one judge away,” he said, adding that “if we get a Democratic president, our five, or four-and-a-half, justices are not going to hold out forever.”

“I just worry,” he said to the young people in the audience, “that the longer we delay, and America sleeps, and your generation is indoctrinated the way it is, the harder it will be to come back.”

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/13/14

Who's Worse: Feminists or Gays?

Robert George, the founder and chairman emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage, appeared on Saturday’s edition of Eagle Forum Live with Phyllis Schlafly to “explain why redefining marriage as merely an emotional bond is a very bad idea.” George warned that legalizing same-sex marriage “would be a disaster for children, for communities, for society as a whole” because marriage would lose its “direct link to procreation and children.”

Schlafly, the arch antifeminist, added that while gays are out to ruin marriage, it is actually the feminists who are the bigger threat. She said feminists are “the cause of most of our problems” because they don’t want men “to have any authority.”

George: What’s at stake is whether we’re going to retain that understanding of marriage with its link to procreation and children, its essential and direct link to procreation and children, or whether we are going to just ditch the idea of marriage altogether, replace it with a different way of organizing social relationships, transform what was known as marriage into mere sexual, romantic, domestic partnership, companionship, which the state would not have any interest in and then reassign the label marriage to that relationship. That would be a disaster for children, for communities, for society as a whole.

Schlafly: In the normal course of human behavior with men and women around these helpless little creatures do appear who could not possibly take care of themselves, isn’t marriage the answer for dealing with that problem?

George: Here’s the way I see it Mrs. Schlafly, I’m borrowing here a thought from my friend Maggie Gallagher who is a great pro-marriage campaigner, when a child is born it’s a pretty good bet that there’s going to be a mother somewhere in the vicinity. Nature provides for that. The real question, one that every culture has to face is: will there be a father around who will help that woman to raise the child? To raise the child in a bond of commitment between mother and father and who will provide the distinctive contributions to child rearing that fathers provide.

Schlafly: That’s exactly why I think the cause of most of our problems are the feminists who don’t want the father around, they want to kick him out, they don’t want him to have any authority and they just don’t think men are necessary.

Later, George responded to a caller asking how “this homosexual thing” will “bankrupt America” with warnings about “big government” and “financial catastrophe.”

Caller: I think that this homosexual thing is not to have equality of people but to bankrupt America by destroying the family.

Schlafly: Well it is true Professor George that when you get rid of the father and you break up the family, the welfare rolls increase and that contributes to destroying our system.

George: Yes it’s an invitation to big government, it makes big government inevitable for the two reasons I articulated: one, the provision of social welfare services; and two, the provision of security, both of which expand with the breakup of the family. Of course, big government eventually means financial catastrophe and bankruptcy because as Mrs. Thatcher famously said, ‘sooner or later you run out of other people’s money to spend,’ and that’s the condition that we find ourselves in and I again would broaden the blame here.

Robert George Warns of Obama's 'Massive Assault on Religious Liberty'

Robert George, the Chairman Emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage and founder of the American Principles Project, today on James Dobson’s show Family Talk accused President Obama and the left in general of using the federal government as a “weapon” to “undermine religious liberty.” He claims that the “massive assault on religious liberty” is necessary for the left to win political debates on legal abortion, stem-cell research and marriage equality. George specifically called the mandate for insurance plans to cover contraception a “pure declaration of war on the Catholic Church” and also “on the evangelical community and people of faith across the spectrum.”

There’s a massive assault on religious liberty going on in this country right now, it is coming from the left and the Obama administration’s coming to power three years ago placed a powerful weapon, the entire apparatus of the federal government, at the disposal of those whose agenda it is to undermine religious liberty. Now they’re not doing this simply because they dislike religious liberty, they’re doing it for reasons that are deeper than that. They understand that there is no way that you can completely win the victory they want to win on the issue of abortion, on the issue of embryo-destructive research, on sanctity of human life issues generally including assisted suicide and euthanasia, or prevail as they wish to prevail on redefining marriage without undermining religious liberty.



This is an unprecedented attack Jim on the religious liberty and the rights of conscience on all Americans, it is really an outrage. The Catholic bishops who have said it are absolutely right; it is a pure declaration of war on the Catholic Church and not only on the Catholic Church but on the evangelical community and people of faith across the spectrum.

Rise of the New McCarthyism: How Right Wing Extremists Try to Paralyze Government Through Ideological Smears and Baseless Attacks

Today, Joseph McCarthy’s ideological heirs in the Republican Party and right-wing media are using the language and tactics of McCarthy to stir fears that the nation is being destroyed by enemies from within. Republican Members of Congress and other GOP officials frequently act as an "amen chorus" to the far right’s demagogues or stay silent, hoping to reap political gain from the attacks on President Obama, administration officials and nominees, congressional democrats, and even military leaders.
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