Arkansas

Right Wing Round-Up – 2/13/15

  • Kyler Geoffrey @ Towleroad: AL Pastor Rails Against ‘Comedic’ Gay Marriages, Claims You’ll Be Able To Marry Roaches In 2016

Huckabee Angry Obama Won't Call ISIS A 'Perversion' Of Islam After He Did Just That

In an interview on Newsmax today, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee complained about President Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast speech — in which he said that groups like the so-called Islamic State “pervert and distort” the Muslim faith — by claiming that the president refuses to say that the Islamic State's ideology is a “perversion” of Islam, and implying that the president has blamed Christians for the group's violence.

“It is just unimaginable why he feels that he has to be the number one defender of all things Islam,” Huckabee said. “I’m not an anti-Islamicist, I’m not. But I feel like I can call something out for what it is."

"And there are many moderate Muslims across the world who are appalled by this," he continued. "Thank god for King Abdullah, thank God for President al-Sisi in Egypt, thank God here in America for Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and others who are willing to speak out. But they’re willing to say something that the American president won’t say, that it is Islam and that there is a perversion of it that is very deadly and dangerous, and that it isn’t Christians’ fault that people are having their heads cut off.”

President Obama and members of his administration, of course, have repeatedly stated that terrorist groups like the Islamic State distort Islam, something for which they get endlessly attacked by the Religious Right.

Repeal Of Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Inspires Anti-Gay Activist That 'Once Again We Can Take Over Government'

On "WallBuilders Live" today, Rick Green and David Barton interviewed Mark Gonzales, the founder of the United States Hispanic Prayer Network, about the successful effort by anti-gay activists to overturn a nondiscrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last year.

Gonzales, who considers himself to be the spiritual son of "respected prophet" Cindy Jacobs, shared his hope that the success they had in Arkansas would inspire anti-gay Christians to mobilize to repeal anti-discrimination ordinances all over the nation and to get more involved in politics "so once again we can take over government."

"If we begin to vote in our city council, citywide elections, we can begin to turn this thing around," he said. "We just keep getting additional folks to run for office that are coming from churches that are Christian and sound, principled businessmen and women, people of faith that can run for office. At the end of the day, it is going to take a movement of action, of voting movement, that we step up to the plate and go to the ballot box."

"If we're going to be, like we all like to say that we're the hands and we're the feet of Jesus, then we're going to have to be involved," Gonzales continued. "We're going to have become that vote and go to the ballot box and make sure we continue that extension of the kingdom in that place so once again we can take over government":

Gun Range Owner Who Turned Away Brown-Skinned Family Has Close Ties To Conservative Groups

Last year, when Arkansas gun range owner Jan Morgan announced that she would ban Muslims from patronizing her business, we noted that Morgan is a frequent speaker at conservative events — she had a speaking slot at the 2013 Values Voter Summit — and has fans among prominent gun activists, including Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt, who wanted to give Morgan an award for her “Muslim-free” policy.

We think this bears repeating now that a report is making the rounds that Morgan recently turned away a father and son of South Asian descent after asking them if they were Muslim.

The Arkansas Times talked with the young man who was reportedly turned away along with his father:

"My dad and I used to go to this gun range," said the young man, who asked not to be identified by name, "but we haven’t had as much of a chance to go in recent years since I've been at college. It's changed ownership recently."

"When we went in, a woman asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’ We told her we were from Hot Springs. She said, "this is a Muslim free shooting range," so if we are [Muslim] and if we don’t like the rule, then leave. We said that we’re not Muslim, but my dad asked, ‘Why is it Muslim free?’ and they started having a conversation. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t know what went wrong, but she stopped us from filling out the paperwork and said ‘I don’t think you guys should be here.’ She told us to leave or she’d call the cops on us."

Not wanting to cause a scene, they left.

"We’re brown; I don’t know if she assumed we were Muslim," he continued. "When she first asked us, she said, ‘I would hope if you were Muslim you guys wouldn't be cowards and would be up front about it.'" The student told the Times he was born in the U.S. and lived in Hot Springs for ten years before going to college in a different Arkansas town; he considers Hot Springs his home.

He recalls reading about the "Muslim free" shooting range, he says, but "I didn't know it was this place." Once he made the connection, he said, "I kept quiet because I just wanted to have some fun and shoot some guns." He says going shooting with his dad is just something they do occasionally: "father-son time, guy time."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Morgan denied turning the pair away because of their ethnicity and said she did so because they appeared to be “under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” But she did not back away from her ban on Muslim customers, explaining to the Post that the whole reason she opened her gun range was because she had received “death threats because of posting the truth about Islam.” She insisted that she won’t change her policy unless the Koran is altered to remove passages that she believes prescribe violence.

Morgan insisted that she doesn’t “believe all Muslims are terrorists,” although she seemed to say the opposite in a recent tweet:

 

 

From the Post:

“I don’t believe all Muslims are terrorists,” Morgan said, adding she has “no idea which Muslims are going to be devout and follow those 109 dictates and those who won’t.” So in her mind, the safest thing to do is to ban all Muslims from her club. “I can’t trust that they can be safe to handle guns” in front of non-Muslims, she added.

There’s another reason Morgan doesn’t take much comfort in the vast numbers of Muslims who are not violent: She believes Islam will remain fundamentally a threat until the religion is permanently reformed by removing the more than 100 passages from the Koran that she believes demand violence from its followers.

Morgan isn’t alone in her belief. At the gun range, she said, “business is booming” since she announced the ban.

The gun range itself, in a way, owes its existence to Morgan’s interpretation of the Koran. “I didn’t even own a gun five years ago,” she said, adding that she learned to shoot because of “death threats because of posting the truth about Islam” on the internet. After that Morgan kept “training and training and training” until she became an instructor. Before all this, she worked in TV news — part of the media that has now become one of her biggest adversaries.

Klingenschmitt Praises Fayetteville For Repealing Non-Discrimination Ordinance By Voting 'Against The Devil'

Earlier this month, residents in Fayetteville, Arkansas, voted to repeal a non-discrimination ordinance that anti-gay activists claimed would have allowed male sex offenders to use women's restrooms. Now, Gordon Klingenschmitt is predictably elated that Christians in the city stood up and voted "against the Devil."

Klingenschmitt praised the vote on a recent "Pray In Jesus Name" program, saying that the ordinance was the result of a demonic spirit of anti-Christian persecution that seek to force Christians to "fork over their children" so they can be indoctrinated into sin.

But fortunately, Klingenschmitt said, Christians in Fayetteville "took a stand ... and voted 52-48 against the Devil" by repealing the non-discrimination ordinance:

Josh Duggar To Lead Rally Against Marriage Equality in Arkansas

Tomorrow, the Family Research Council and its Arkansas affiliate will join with Rick Scarborough’s Vision America to hold an anti-marriage-equality rally in Little Rock.

Among the speakers at the rally — which follows the state supreme court’s decision to take up a marriage case — will be Arkansas native Josh Duggar, the TLC reality show star and the executive director of FRC’s political arm.

• Mr. Joshua Duggar – Executive Director of FRC Action
• Mr. Jerry Cox – Founder and President of Family Council
• Senator Bart Hester – Arkansas State Senate
• Representative Bob Ballinger – Arkansas House of Representatives
• Pastor Happy Caldwell – Founder and President of Victory Television Network
• Pastor Derick Easter – New St. Hurricane Missionary Baptist Church

The Arkansas Family Council urges members to turn out in Little Rock:

Are you ready to make your voice heard to the Arkansas Supreme Court about the sanctity of marriage?

Are you tired of judges running roughshod over the will of Arkansas’ voters?

If you are, then I want to invite you to an important rally on the Capitol Steps in Little Rock one week from today.

On Wednesday, November 19, at 11:00 AM Arkansans will rally in support of traditional marriage. This is an opportunity for everyone—especially ministers—to make their voices heard in saying marriage in Arkansas should remain the union of one man and one woman.

Voting For The Future Of Voting: Secretary of State Races To Watch

One influential issue at the ballot box this year is the future of how we cast our ballots. In secretary of state races throughout the country, voters will be choosing who runs their elections — and how open those elections are to all voters.

As Republican lawmakers continue to enact news laws aimed at curtailing the rights of voters, secretary of state elections have taken on renewed importance.

We’ve picked three key secretary of state races that we’ll be watching closely Tuesday and added a few more influential races that are also worth keeping an eye on. (And this isn’t even counting states like Florida and Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state is picked by the governor, leaving the gubernatorial elections will have even stronger voting rights implications.)

Kansas

Perhaps the hardest-fought and most-watched secretary of state race this year is taking place in the heavily Republican Kansas. And that’s all because of the national profile and extreme agenda of one man: incumbent Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

When Kobach won his job in 2010, he was already a national figure. After a stint in the Bush Justice Department, Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of the nativist anti-immigrant group FAIR — where he worked with lawmakers to craft harsh anti-immigrant measures throughout the country, including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, where he helped write the infamous “show me your papers” law SB 1070. After a failed run for Congress in 2004, Kobach set his sights on his state’s elections office.

Kobach has recently gained a prominent place in national Republican politics, serving as an immigration policy adviser to Mitt Romney and working to insert anti-gay and anti-immigrant language into the 2012 GOP platform.

Kobach won his position handily in 2010, but is facing an unexpectedly tough fight to hold onto it. Part of the reason is because he’s kept up his out-of-state anti-immigrant work: He still holds a position at IRLI and jets around the country advising states and localities that have agreed to be his policy guinea pigs, prompting his critics to complain that he’s not spending enough time in Kansas. And part of it is because he’s brought his activism home, using his platform in Kansas to push some of the most extreme voting restrictions in the country by hyping fears that undocumented immigrants are voting en masse in Kansas.

In 2011, at Kobach’s urging, Kansas passed a restrictive voter ID law that included a requirement that those registering to vote provide a passport, birth certificate, or similar “proof of citizenship" to elections authorities. The proof-of-citizenship provision, which took effect this year, has thrown Kansas voter registration into chaos. Less than one week before the election, 22,394 potential Kansas voters are unable to cast ballots because they had not provided an acceptable form of citizenship documentation. In addition, Kobach has placed an estimated 300-400 voters in a special voting rights “tier” in which they can vote only in federal elections and not in state elections. Kobach has proudly reported that of the 200 people who were placed in this special class of disenfranchised voters in this summer's primary election, only one bothered to show up to cast a half vote.

Kobach is also at the helm of Interstate Crosscheck, a faulty program that claims to identify people who are voting in two states at once but in reality has encouraged states to purge eligible minority voters from their voter rolls.

Kansans became even more leery of Kobach’s priorities this year when he spent $34,000 in taxpayer money trying to keep a Democratic senate candidate, Chad Taylor, on the ballot after he dropped out to make way for the independent challenging Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Kobach only relented when the state supreme court ordered him to, and even then he tried (unsuccessfully) to find a way around the order.

A recent poll shows Kobach tied with his Democratic challenger, Jean Schodorf.

Ohio

In the presidential swing state of Ohio, the secretary of state is often in the center of national battles over voting rights. Republican Jon Husted has been no exception.

In the lead-up to the 2012 election, Husted stepped in to break tie votes in Democratic-leaning Ohio counties, allowing those counties to eliminate night and weekend early voting hours... even as Republican-leaning counties expanded their early voting hours. In response to a national outcry, Husted enforced “uniformity” by requiring all counties to bring early voting opportunities down to the lowest common denominator, including cutting off night and weekend voting and eliminating early voting in the three days before the election. When a federal judge ordered Husted to reopen voting in the three days before the election, he flatly refused to comply, saying it would “confuse voters.” Eventually he relented, but as the election approached he appealed the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.

Since the 2012 election, Husted has kept up his efforts to restrict early voting in 2014, fighting to eliminate the so-called “Golden Week” of early voting — in which voters can register and cast their ballots in one visit — and to cut early voting hours, including on Sundays, a time frequently used by African American churches for get-out-the-vote efforts.

Husted faces a Democrat state Sen. Nina Turner, a major critic of his record on voting rights. Although the two were neck-and-neck in an early poll, a recent poll shows Husted with a significant lead.

Arizona

Before Kansas ushered in its restrictive “proof of citizenship” law, Arizona was already fighting for a similar measure. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a medley of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures including a requirement that those registering to vote present one of a narrow set of documents to prove that they are citizens. The Supreme Court struck down the provision in 2013, saying that it was preempted by federal law — but left a loophole, suggesting that Arizona could sue the federal Election Assistance Commission to require that federal voter registration forms used in the state include the extra “proof of citizenship” requirement. So Arizona did just that, joined by Kansas under Kobach.

That case is still working its way through the courts, but it’s left a peculiar situation in Kansas and Arizona where Kobach and his Arizona counterpart Secretary of State Ken Bennett have set up dual-track voting systems in their states in which people who register to vote with a federal form but do not provide additional citizenship documents are allowed to vote in federal elections, but not in state elections. As we noted above, of about 200 Kansans on the special limited-rights voting track in this year’s primary election, just one voted. In Arizona, about 1,500 were put on the limited track, and 21 cast ballots.

Bennett isn’t up for reelection this year — he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor — but the race to succeed him will determine the future implementation of Arizona’s restrictive requirements. Republican Michele Reagan sought and won Kobach’s endorsement, boasting that she voted for the infamous anti-immigrant bill that Kobach helped bring to Arizona. In the state senate, Reagan wrote a bill that, among other voting restrictions, would prevent community groups from collecting and delivering mail-in ballots, a method commonly used in voting drives by Latino groups. When an effort to repeal the bill by referendum started to gain steam, Reagan and her fellow Republicans worked to repeal it first, thus allowing the state legislature to bring back parts of the bill in a piecemeal fashion.

Reagan is facing off against Democrat Terry Goddard, a former state attorney general and mayor of Phoenix. Both candidates have said they want tighter disclosure requirements for “dark money” spending by outside groups. But when the Koch-backed 60 Plus Association bought $304,000 in ads attacking Goddard last week, she refused to distance herself from the dark money effort.

Reagan also struggled this week to explain her vote for Arizona’s so-called “birther bill,” which would have required presidential candidates to prove to the secretary of state that they are native-born American citizens.

Other States To Watch: Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa

In Colorado, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler — a key Kobach ally and crusader against the supposed scourge of Democratic “organized voter fraud” who last year tried to stop county clerks from sending ballots to voters who had not voted in the the last election — is stepping down this year, having tried and failed to get his party’s gubernatorial nomination. In the race to replace him are Republican El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, described by the Denver Post as Gessler’s “lone public ally” among clerks in the ballot controversy, and Democratic attorney Joe Neguse. The two differ on the sweeping elections overhaul Colorado passed last year, which allows same-day voter registration and requires the state to mail a ballot to every voter.

New Mexico’s secretary of state race has incumbent Republican Dianna Duran pitted against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a rising Democratic star. Toulouse Oliver is emphasizing “full participation across a wide spectrum of the electorate” in her campaign, while Durran is accusing her of using “community-organizer, consultant-styled rhetoric.” In a TV ad that doubles as a promotion for right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud, Durran accuses Toulous Oliver of “registering a dog to vote.” In reality, a right-wing activist tried to register his dog to try to prove a point; he was caught and Toulouse Oliver referred his case to the proper authorities.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter ID requirement, a ruling that Secretary of State Mark Martin is vowing to fight. As the case worked its way through the courts, Arkansas voters got conflicting messages from elections officials under Martin’s leadership. He faces a challenge from Democrat Susan Inman.

In Iowa, outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz spent $150,000 in taxpayer money in a quest to root out voter fraud in Iowa…and found none. He also conducted a voter roll purge that critics called an attempt to  intimidate Latino voters.” The race to succeed him — between Republican voter ID supporter Paul Pate and Democrat Brad Anderson — is locked in a dead heat.

Mike Huckabee Blames Budget Problems On Americans' Lack Of Religion, 'Integrity On A Personal Level'

Mike Huckabee responded in a Newsmax interview today to new Pew findings showing that “a growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics,” saying that the poll results “give me a great sense of comfort that America is coming to understand that it cannot explain its history apart from an understanding of the providence of God.”

Huckabee went on to explain how these poll results are very encouraging because all tax and spending issues stem back to a lack of “character and integrity” among the citizenry.

“I know this from being a governor ten and a half years, J.D.,” he told host J.D. Hayworth. “I looked at how many things in our budget were directly related to the fact that character and integrity had broken down in people. And I guarantee you that if you look through a state and federal budget, that a lot of the expenses that we have and therefore the taxes that we cough up to pay for it is because we have, really, a population that fails to connect integrity on a personal level and government on a broad and national level.”

He gave the example of a school dropout who goes on a drug-use and graffiti spree. “Well-behaved kids just don’t cost as much. Well-behaved adults don’t cost as much. It’s really very simple if you look at it. “

Barber: Fayetteville Non-Discrimination Ordinance Is Forcing Citizens to Engage In 'A Mass Delusion'

Last week, the city council in Fayetteville, Arkansas passed a nondiscrimination ordinance that included protections for, among other things, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Needless to say, Matt Barber and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel are furious about its passage and spent an entire radio program declaring that Fayetteville has now literally made it legal for any man to enter a women's restroom or locker room at will while anyone who objects or tries to prevent a man from entering will be fined and criminally charged.

Staver announced that Liberty Counsel was working with local pastors to secure enough signatures to put the ordinance on the ballot in November in order to have it repealed, which Barber said was an absolute necessity because this ordinance is forcing city residents to engage in a "mass delusion under penalty of law."

"This is the sexual anarchist movement's attack on reality," Barber said, "but, larger than that, attack on God's design for human sexuality, for male, for female, trying to make everything gender neutral and create an androgynous society, running against reality that everybody knows to be true."

"We have lost our minds as a nation":

Tom Cotton Manages To Blame Obama For Separatist Groups Shooting Down Plane Over Ukraine

Tom Cotton, the Republican congressman running for U.S. Senate in Arkansas, appeared on “Washington Watch” yesterday to criticize President Obama’s foreign policy, even managing to link the administration to everything from the downing of flight MH17 by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to the atrocities committed against Christians in Iraq … which he said all leads back to the IRS scandal.

He said that America’s enemies have “realized” that Obama is too “slow to react if he reacts at all” on foreign affairs issues, and so “sometimes that means shooting down an airliner full of innocent civilians, including children, in Ukraine; sometimes that means driving Christians out of a city like Mosul.”

He then told host Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, that the Obama administration has “a very peculiar form of crisis management that seems to create one worse crisis to get the last crisis off of the newspaper headlines. You went from the IRS scandal to the VA to the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap to the Islamic State taking over in Iraq to a civilian airliner being shot out of the skies in Ukraine, it’s hard to imagine they are going to keep this up or what that would mean for America’s national security interests in the world.”

Cotton also claimed that the U.S. had achieved “victory” in the Iraq War until Obama “squandered” it.

Mike Huckabee's 2016 Themes? God In Textbooks And Attacks On Judges

Part of the Christian-nation lineup at this weekend’s Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority conference was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a right-wing media figure and former (and likely future) presidential candidate.

Excerpts from Huckabee's remarks:

Huckabee said that he and his wife recently went to China to celebrate their 40th anniversary. He said he hadn’t been earlier because he doesn’t like the Chinese government — citing piracy and dumping but, oddly, not China’s repression of dissent and religious freedom.

He praised the flowering of entrepreneurship in China, saying the country is becoming more like America used to be and America is becoming more like China used to be. Huckabee compared NSA spying to Chinese control over Internet access. And more absurdly, he equated the Chinese government’s erasure from history of the massacre of protesters at Tiananmen Square with what he said was our country’s treatment of the role of God in America’s founding.

“And I thought I’m so glad that I’m in a country that would never erase a significant part of our history, and then I remember that we are erasing most of the history of this country. We’re telling young people that God had nothing to do with the foundation of this country when in fact there wouldn’t be a United States of America if it were not for the men and women of faith who got on their knees to pray and then got on their feet to fight, who took muskets off their mantles and took on the toughest  army that had ever existed in the world at that time and had no chance of creating a new country, but they did -- because of the Providence of God’s hand. And you try to find that in an American textbook today in a public school, and good luck doing it.

Maybe Huckabee’s desire to have public school textbooks teaching that God was behind America’s founding reflects the fact that he’s been hanging out with Christian-nation zealot David Lane, who wants to make the Bible a primary public school textbook. CBN’s David Brody reported on Friday that Lane has organized a European trip for Huckabee and pastors from key primary states.  Huckabee says the trip, called “Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II Tour: God Raising Extraordinary Leaders for Extraordinary Times,” is an opportunity to show “the human instruments used by God to change the world’s history.”

Huckabee clearly has a hankering to put himself in that category. At the Faith and Freedom conference, he railed against government regulation and “irrational people” running the government. He said abortion is “a curse for which we will answer.” He also signaled what may be a defining campaign issue if he decides to run: an attack on the federal courts.

And one of the things that I do not understand is why more Americans have not rallied in opposition to the notion that just because the Court says something that that is the final word. Have we not read our Constitution? Have we not reminded ourselves that we have three branches of government, not one, and all of those three branches are equal branches of government. One is them is not superior to either of the other two, and certainly not to both of the other two. This notion that when the Supreme Court says something it’s the last word is fundamentally unconstitutional and wrong. It is the Supreme Court, not the supreme branch.  And we have allowed guys and women in black robes not simply to interpret a law, but to transform a law, rewrite a law, and actually prescribe the fix and implement it, two responsibilities and functions that are left exclusively and totally to the legislative and executive branches.

It is high time that we recognize that one of the greatest threats to our liberty in this land is the notion of judicial supremacy. There is no such thing in the Constitution of judicial supremacy, and one of the ways in which we must transform America, unlike the way that our current occupant of the White House has transformed America, is to teach our children and to teach our peers that ultimately the authority in this country is not the courts, nor is it even the legislature or the executive branch, the ultimate authority in this country still remains the people of America, We the People.   And if we don’t truly believe that and exercise that, we will lose this country not because we have to, but because we have given it away.

Huckabee that he is optimistic, because there has never been a greater opportunity to show what freedom looks like – and it’s not just because there are a lot of conservative activists motivated to fight.

It’s because I believe that there is a God, and that his country would not be here without him, and that if this country will get on its knees and it will ask God’s forgiveness for how we have behaved. It’s not about the people who hate us, it’s about those of us who decide we wanna love God more than we wanna hate our enemies. And when we get on our knees in forgiveness, God will heal our land and He will restore us.

To those at the conference who seem overly pessimistic about the state of the country and the world, he said he’s “read the end of the book,” and his message is, “In the end, we win, and that’s good news.”

Marriage Equality Ruling in Arkansas Welcomed by Southerners for the Freedom to Marry

Wolfson and his organization have been working on a project called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, and though we expect an appeal to the Arkansas ruling, it looks like the South is ready for change.
PFAW Foundation

Senate to Hold Cloture Votes on TN and AR Judicial Nominees

Early this week, the Senate is scheduled to hold cloture votes on four judicial nominees, including Timothy Brooks, nominee for the Western District of Arkansas and Pamela Reeves, nominee for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Brooks and Reeves have been waiting for confirmation votes on the Senate floor since October 31 and November 14, respectively.

As we noted earlier this month, Republicans are routinely delaying nominations on the Senate floor by requiring Democrats to invoke cloture on every single judicial nominee and then piling on hours of unneeded “post-cloture debate” for each nominee who is called up for a vote. This practice creates a weeks-long backlog of nominees awaiting votes and prevents the Senate from moving on to other business. Nominees like Brooks and Reeves could have been confirmed within minutes after they were sent to the Senate floor last year. Instead, both of these nominations were sent back to the  president in early January at the end of the first session of the 113th Congress to be re-nominated. After further needless delays in Committee, the nominees were finally placed on the Senate calendar only to wait an additional two months for consideration.

After the Senate has finally worked through the backlog of nominees to get to the Arkansas and Tennessee vacancies, Republicans are throwing up additional roadblocks, forcing Senator Reid to file cloture petitions, which will further delay their consideration. These nonsensical delays of well qualified nominees undermine the public’s faith in the Senate and create hardship for those seeking justice in the courts.

PFAW

Senate to Vote Today on Four Federal District Court Nominees

The Senate is scheduled to vote to end filibusters and then to confirm four federal district court nominees tonight and tomorrow morning, two for the Northern District of California, one for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and one for the District of Connecticut. All four of these nominees were thoroughly vetted and approved by unanimous voice vote by the Judiciary Committee last year. They should have and could have been confirmed months ago. (In contrast, George W. Bush’s confirmed district court noms only waited about a month on average between committee approval and confirmation.) However, because of Republican obstruction, all four nominees have waited months for a simple confirmation vote. And Senate Republicans are indicating that they won’t stop their obstruction anytime soon.  In fact, it looks like they are willing to waste weeks of time in “post-cloture debate” on these and subsequent nominees.

Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer of Connecticut has been waiting for a confirmation since he was first approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 19. Judge James Maxwell Moody, Jr., of Arkansas has been waiting since November 14. The two nominees from Northern California, Judge James Donato and Judge Beth Labson Freeman, have both been waiting since October 31st.

This frustratingly slow process is the result of layers of delaying tactics by GOP senators. Republicans refused to hold votes on these nominees for months, and now that they are being called on their obstructionism through filibuster-ending cloture votes, they’re making the votes take as long as possible by demanding that each take hours of “post-cloture debate.” This is especially ridiculous for nominees whom the Republicans actually support. Not only is this delaying confirmation of judges in these particular states; it’s also delaying nominees in other states waiting in line for their turn, including many for posts that have been deemed “judicial emergencies.” This delaying tactic from Republicans not only slows what should be a simple process, it deprives these states’ constituents the fully functioning justice system they deserve.

PFAW

GOP Blockade of Unopposed Ark. Judicial Nominees Disrupts Local Election

Chuck Grassley tries and fails to justify his party's obstruction, which is complicating an Arkansas state judicial election.
PFAW

David Lane Digs In

In July, we reported on Christian-nation extremist David Lane’s closed-door pastors briefing in Iowa, and the presidential hopefuls and other politicians who have flocked to Lane’s gatherings over the years.

This week the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reported that Lane’s American Renewal Project is holding church-based voter registration drives on three Sundays this month: Sept. 15, Sept. 22 and Sept. 29.  Steve Michael, a spokesperson for the project, told the Register that after the American Renewal Project’s $1.2 million voter registration campaign in Missouri during the last election cycle, the state saw a 3 percent increase in evangelical voters.  He said it will organize in Iowa “steadily until the 2014 election.”

The "Stand-up Sundays" model goes like this: Pastors ask their congregation members to stand up if they're already registered. Volunteers will then hand out voter registration paperwork to the adults still seated. But each Iowa pastor will decide how to do it, Lane told the Register.

Iowa is among 11 states the American Renewal Project is targeting in the 2014 cycle, Michael said. The others are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Organizers will do “Pastors and Pews” events followed by voter registration drives in each state. Next up is Louisiana on Sept. 26-27….

Lane said Iowa may be one of the most registered states in the nation, thanks to the attention from the presidential campaigns, so he expects Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina to be more "target rich areas."

It’s worth noting that Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina are also among the top Senate races for 2014, as are other states on Lane’s target list. 

Rapert: 'It's More Important To Do What Is Right By God' Than By My Constituents

Earlier this month, Janet Porter hosted a 10th Anniversary Faith2Action Banquet featuring Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, as well as Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, the man responsible for the passage of the state's "Heartbeat Bill" over the Governor's veto.

During his remarks at the banquet, Rapert stated that it is not the will of 80,000 constituents that he represents but rather the will of God because "there's only one vote that matters and that's when I stand before the Lord at the judgment seat."

"It's more important to do what is right by God," Rapert said, "than it is to please those that would rather have me talk about pro-life but not really do much about pro-life."

He then went on to discuss the recent showdown in Texas over its own restrictive abortion legislation, saying of those who where there protesting the legislation that "I've never had a glimpse of Hell or heard a real demon, but I believe that must be what they sound like ... It's spiritual warfare":

The Perils of Teaching the Bible in Public Schools

Rob Boston at Americans United notes that the Arkansas House just voted to require the state’s Education Board to approve elective classes about the Bible if they meet appropriate standards.  The Supreme Court has said the Bible may be taught about in public schools when “presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.”

But teaching about the Bible without teaching it religiously is not an easy thing to do. It requires carefully designed curricula, well-intentioned and well-trained educators, and a commitment to meaningful oversight.  People For the American Way was part of a religiously and politically diverse group of organizations that worked together to produce the 1999 publication The Bible in Public Schools, a First Amendment Guide. That guide emphasized that how any such course is taught will determine whether it passes constitutional muster:

When teaching about the Bible in a public school, teachers must understand the important distinction between advocacy, indoctrination, proselytizing, and the practice of religion – which is unconstitutional – and teaching about religion that is objective, nonjudgmental, academic, neutral, balanced, and fair – which is constitutional.

But that’s not how if often works in practice. In 2000, People For the American Way Foundation published a scathing expose, The Good Book Taught Wrong: Bible History Classes in Florida Public Schools. The PFAW Foundation investigation found that “Bible History” classes were often being taught more like Christian Sunday School classes from a sectarian, Protestant perspective. Bible stories were treated as literal history. Among lessons and exam questions asked of students:

  • "If you had a Jewish friend who wanted to know if Jesus might be the expectant [sic] Messiah, which book [of the Gospels] would you give him?"
  • "Compose an explanation of who Jesus is for someone who has never heard of Him."  
  • "Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?"
  • "What is Jesus Christ's relationship to God, to creation, and to you?"
  • "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the Jews? The devil."

That expose led Florida officials to yank those classes and revamp the curricula.

But more than a decade later, similar problems persist, as the Texas Freedom Network documented in a January report that found classes designed more to evangelize students to a literalist, fundamentalist view of the Bible rather than to teach about its role in literature and history. Included in the lesson plans examined by TFN were characterizations of Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion, Christian-nation approaches to US history, and material “explaining” racial origins via the sons of Noah.

Are Arkansas legislators and education officials prepared to invest in the development of curricula, the training of educators, and meaningful oversight into how the classes are taught?

The Perils of Teaching About the Bible in Public Schools

Rob Boston at Americans United notes that the Arkansas House just voted to require the state’s Education Board to approve elective classes about the Bible if they meet appropriate standards.  The Supreme Court has said the Bible may be taught about in public schools when “presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.”

But teaching about the Bible without teaching it religiously is not an easy thing to do. It requires carefully designed curricula, well-intentioned and well-trained educators, and a commitment to meaningful oversight.  People For the American Way was part of a religiously and politically diverse group of organizations that worked together to produce the 1999 publication The Bible in Public Schools, a First Amendment Guide. That guide emphasized that how any such course is taught will determine whether it passes constitutional muster:

When teaching about the Bible in a public school, teachers must understand the important distinction between advocacy, indoctrination, proselytizing, and the practice of religion – which is unconstitutional – and teaching about religion that is objective, nonjudgmental, academic, neutral, balanced, and fair – which is constitutional.

But that’s not how if often works in practice. In 2000, People For the American Way Foundation published a scathing expose, The Good Book Taught Wrong: Bible History Classes in Florida Public Schools. The PFAW Foundation investigation found that “Bible History” classes were often being taught more like Christian Sunday School classes from a sectarian, Protestant perspective. Bible stories were treated as literal history. Among lessons and exam questions asked of students:

  • "If you had a Jewish friend who wanted to know if Jesus might be the expectant [sic] Messiah, which book [of the Gospels] would you give him?"
  • "Compose an explanation of who Jesus is for someone who has never heard of Him."  
  • "Why is it hard for a non-Christian to understand things about God?"
  • "What is Jesus Christ's relationship to God, to creation, and to you?"
  • "Who, according to Jesus, is the father of the Jews? The devil."

That expose led Florida officials to yank those classes and revamp the curricula.

But more than a decade later, similar problems persist, as the Texas Freedom Network documented in a January report that found classes designed more to evangelize students to a literalist, fundamentalist view of the Bible rather than to teach about its role in literature and history. Included in the lesson plans examined by TFN were characterizations of Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion, Christian-nation approaches to US history, and material “explaining” racial origins via the sons of Noah.

Are Arkansas legislators and education officials prepared to invest in the development of curricula, the training of educators, and meaningful oversight into how the classes are taught?

PFAW Foundation
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