North Carolina

Latinos Vote! Dolores Huerta’s Four-State Tour with PFAW

Over a two-week span, People For the American Way (PFAW) staff and volunteers joined PFAW board member Dolores Huerta for a four-state tour to get out the vote in Latino communities and push back against anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and policies of Republican presidential candidates.

Huerta attended the last two Republican debates, spreading the message that all of the Republican candidates stand firmly against the priorities of working families and Latino communities. At the start of our tour, leading up to the debate in Colorado at the end of October, Huerta joined Colorado Latino leaders and voters to discuss how the Republican candidates are out of line with Colorado Latinos.

latin life denver

latin life denver

Huerta also spoke at a rally that thousands attended. As Suzanne Gamboa at NBC News reported:

“Huerta planned to participate in an event with other Latino leaders Wednesday afternoon to launch a voter registration campaign and protest rhetoric of the campaign and some proposals she considered to be anti-Latino.

[…]"The Republican candidates are not really reflecting or even addressing the needs of the Latino community or American families," Huerta said in an phone interview with NBC News.

After Colorado, Huerta traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to get out the vote leading up to municipal elections and to call out North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory for signing the severely anti-immigrant HB 318.

After her third radio interview of the morning – which also happened to be the day before Halloween – Huerta posed with the radio hosts of Charlotte’s La Raza 106.1.

la raza

Huerta joined Charlotte voters and activists to deliver an “award” to Gov. McCrory for his ability to disguise himself as a friend of immigrants and then to turn his back on the community.


After Charlotte, Huerta joined PFAW staff and volunteers to get out the vote in Virginia. PFAW had already begun laying the groundwork in Virginia with Spanish-language ads encouraging voters to head to the polls on Election Day.

The Washington Post’s write-up of the ad included this explanation from PFAW’s Carlos A. Sanchez:

“By highlighting in Spanish how local and national Republican politicians from [former Virginia gubernatorial candidate] Ken Cuccinelli to Donald Trump have demonized immigrants, our ad urges voters to stand up against them by going to the polls."

While on the ground, Huerta mobilized voters and volunteers in State Senate District 29 to support Democrat Jeremy McPike.

Our efforts paid off, as McPike won his race!

To wrap up our four-state tour, Huerta traveled to Wisconsin leading up to the Republican debate there. PFAW joined with Voces de la Frontera Action to shed light on the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino policies of all the Republican candidates.

dolores press conf

Huerta also joined with allies for a Fight for $15 rally urging politicians to support a $15 minimum wage. Watch Huerta discuss her efforts on local CBS.

The 4-state tour is a part of PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program. Stay tuned for more updates on our work!


Anti-Abortion Groups Target GOP Congresswoman For Expressing Concern About Rape Survivors

Anti-choice Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina became public enemy number one of the anti-abortion movement earlier this year when she helped sink a planned vote on a 20-week abortion ban — the top priority of many anti-choice groups — because she feared the legislation’s harsh treatment of rape survivors could turn off young voters.

Now, it appears that the anti-choice movement’s collective rage at Ellmers has kept her off of a House special committee investigating Planned Parenthood — which she had aggressively lobbied to join — and is fueling a number of primary challengers in her home state.

Ellmers was conspicuously absent from a list of Republican members of the Planned Parenthood investigative committee released today, after anti-choice groups — such as the Susan. B Anthony List, which had previously endorsed her lobbied to keep her off the committee.

On top of that, LifeSiteNews yesterday assembled an impressive collection of quotes from anti-choice leaders vowing to oppose Ellmers in a primary:

"Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community," said the North Carolina Values Coalition. The American Principles Project's founder shared, "I hope that Ellmers will be subjected to a strong primary challenge in the next election by someone who is genuinely pro-life and that our movement to protect the lives of unborn children at all stages and in all conditions will now move forward." National Right to Life said, "If you can't vote for such a humanitarian no-brainer of a law to protect the unborn, you can't be trusted to vote for any pro-life legislation."

"We need to send a message loud and clear to all 'pro-life' representatives who ask for our vote, but who betray the lives of vulnerable unborn babies when they get in office: If you vote or work behind the scenes to allow the slaughter of abortion to continue, you will hear from pro-life voters loudly and clearly at the polls," National Right to Life president Carol Tobias said.

Dr. James Dobson, author and founder of Focus on the Family, commented, "Conservatives will know Rep. Renee Ellmers best for her opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment, her sponsorship of the radical Equal Rights Amendment, and for withdrawing her sponsorship of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."

Ambassador and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes released a statement about Ellmers, saying that she is "a faithless Representative, favored by political bosses, who must be removed from office if decent politics is to prevail."

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which has been training Republican candidates to avoid talking about rape when talking about their opposition to abortion rights, was furious at Ellmers for “creating a firestorm on an issue that this was never about, that this was about rape” and said back in January that if Ellmers got a primary challenger, “she deserves it.”

Meanwhile, Ellmers is desperately trying to remind her constituents that despite having once expressed concern about rape survivors, she still very much opposes abortion rights.

Culture War Politics At David Lane's 'Nonpolitical' Prayer Rally

Last Saturday, while the Values Voter Summit drew Religious Right activists and pandering politicians together in Washington, D.C., a group of Christian dominionists was holding an all-day political prayer rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory had objected to the way Response organizers used his name to recruit participants, but it didn’t keep him away.

This was the fourth “Response” rally headlined by a state governor. The first, in 2011, served as the unofficial launch to Rick Perry’s disastrous 2012 presidential bid. Since then, Response rallies have been hosted by Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to host the next “Response” on October 24. The North Carolina Response was the smallest to date; one speaker referred to “hundreds” of participants, while the Charlotte Observer reported that it attracted “more than 1,000” people.

The rallies are in effect a series of bait-and-switch events. They are disingenuously promoted as non-political gatherings to create Christian unity by bringing people together across denominational and racial lines to pray for the state and the country. And while that promise of ecumenical prayer and worship is undoubtedly what brought many people to the event in Charlotte, the “non-political” veneer was discarded almost immediately.

The organizers are a group of Christian-nation zealots who believe every sphere of influence in society – including business, government, education, media, and entertainment – is meant to be controlled by the right kind of Christians. And they’re intent on electing politicians – and a president – who share that vision. The events are sponsored by Christian-nation extremist David Lane, a favorite of GOP presidential hopefuls whose American Renewal Project organizes and funds The Response rallies as well as other efforts to get conservative evangelicals more involved in politics. The American Renewal Project operates under the umbrella of the American Family Association, home to the notorious font of bigotry, radio host Bryan Fischer.

Here’s how Lane opened his prayer at the unifying, non-political Response rally:

The problem is us, a Christian nation founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith that has left God. So Lord, we start here. We’re so sorry what we’ve allowed to happen to a once-Christian nation, Lord. We deserve judgment. We pray for mercy, the mercy of God. A nation founded on the Bible; fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And Lord, they removed prayer and Bible from the public schools in 1963 after 350 years as a principal component, as the fixed point in order to judge society. We did this, we allowed this to happen. We pray for mercy. Fifty-five million babies dead, homosexuals praying at the inauguration, red ink as far as the eye can see -- judgment is on us. We need mercy Lord. We deserve judgment.

Like other Response events, it was emceed by “apostle” Doug Stringer, who announced that the day would follow the five-theme Response formula: repentance, reconciliation, revival, reformation, and refreshing. As the Response moved through its five segments, Religious Right speakers took turns at the microphone, interspersed with praise music and prayers from locals. Some prayed for the church to be filled with God’s love, and some shouted out culture war rhetoric about abortion, homosexuality, and separation of church and state:

Lord, you’ve called us to be salt and light, and Lord, salt is flavoring, salt is an irritant, and salt is a preservative. Lord, it is sin for us to not study your word, and know it, and obey it. Oh, God, it is sin for us to not know our Constitution, our liberties, and it is sin for us to not know how to be good citizens, preserving our liberties and our freedoms. Change us, oh God, and help us be like Kim Davis, obeying the Constitution and defying federal criminals. In Jesus’ name.  

Cruz And Perry Join Pastor Who Warns God Will Wreak Judgment On America For Gay Marriage

GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry tried to burnish their Religious Right credentials this weekend by speaking at a “We Stand With God” rally in front of the South Carolina capitol, where Perry promised that he would root out corruption in Washington just like Jesus kicked the money changers out of the Temple and Cruz warned that the U.S. will soon be throwing pastors in jail like Iran.

The keynote address of the event was given by North Carolina Baptist pastor Ron Baity — previously known for warning that God would send a calamity worse than the Ebola virus in punishment for gay marriage — who told the crowd that marriage equality and legal abortion are inviting God’s judgment on America.

Pastors, he said, must stand up to criticism and preach that homosexuality is an “abomination” and “preach against Planned Parenthood.”

“The judgment of God will eventually fall on a nation that cheapens marriage,” he warned. “God had an urban renewal program for Sodom and Gomorrah!”

Baity warned that the U.S. will soon have to change its national bird from the eagle to the buzzard because “we have come to a time in America where we are ashamed of the old-time religion, we are ashamed of the Word of God, we are ashamed by the pastor that would stand in the pulpit, dare to raise his voice, point his index finger and dare to say, ‘Here’s the way, walk me in.’”

The Fight for Voters’ Rights Is a Necessary Interruption

“Forward together, not one step back” were the chants heard in every space we entered while we marched for voters’ rights in Winston-Salem, North Carolina last month. On July 13, Young People For (YP4) community college consultant Lela Ali, African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) administrative assistant Jasmine Bowden, and I participated in the Mass Moral Monday march and rally hosted by the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP to share our voices and energy in the fight against the 2013 North Carolina law (H.B. 589) that advocates have called “the worst voter suppression law in the country.”

Community and religious leaders performed sit-ins three years ago in the North Carolina State Senate resulting in arrests opposing the voter suppression law. One month later, the North Carolina NAACP and Rosanell Eaton filed a complaint in federal district court due to the bill’s violations under the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This history was uplifted by North Carolina NAACP State President Reverend William Barber, II – who is also an AAMLC member – at an ecumenical service at Union Baptist Church Sunday evening. He gave a great sermon titled “Necessary Interruption,” saying that allies and activists are being called to disrupt our nation in order to dismantle the systems of oppression that plague our country and leave behind countless black deaths with little consequences. He spoke on the need for Medicare expansion, policy changes like gun laws and criminal justice reforms, and economic empowerment for marginalized communities.  The North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory lawsuit, which challenges the provisions of embedded in H.B. 589, is one of those necessary interruptions of justice.

With a fiery ending to our first night in Winston-Salem, we were excited for the full day of teach-ins that occurred the next morning. We were hosted by Goler Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church and engaged in various topics from ‘Racial Violence & Criminal (In)Justice’ to ‘Building Coalitions to Sustain a Social Justice Movement.’ Many of our conversations were focused around allyship, direct action, and legal support to dismantle systems of inequity in local communities. We had the opportunity during our lunch break to meet with members of the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network and ministerial leaders (AAMLC) from People For the American Way Foundation.

Later that day, we headed over to a rally and march only a few blocks away. At this time, the weather had reached its peak of 93 degrees, but this did not minimize the crowd of over 600 supporters. Music welcomed us and speakers from across the country greeted us with boisterous calls to action as they prepared us to take to the streets and rally for voters’ rights. We gathered our signs and water bottles and followed the crowd through the streets of downtown Winston-Salem as we chanted, “Forward together, not one step back!” and “What do you want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” We were escorted by local police while onlookers from the side streets clapped and cheered us on. Music continued to serenade us as young and old, black and white supporters joined hands to dance in solidarity for justice and equality around voting rights. It was a magical experience that could only be felt in that moment. We walked back to our cars after the march not concerned with the sweltering weather or the sweat staining our clothes and faces. We were excited to be a part of history and exercise our rights to march and protest.

The lawsuit appealing H.B. 589 may not be resolved right away, but activists and allies will continue to take to the internet and streets to uplift the voices of marginalized communities whose rights are violated by those who were elected to serve an array of constituents – black, brown, and white. We will continue to interrupt the notion that young people can’t participate in the electoral process. We will align ourselves with the interests of those who fight for equality and human rights. The fight for voters’ rights is a necessary interruption in the face of injustice.

PFAW Foundation

North Carolina Courts Test State Voter Restrictions

On Monday, a federal trial began in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to see if recent changes in the state’s election laws unfairly and purposefully discriminate against minority voters. The changes in question include an end to same-day registration, an end to a high school voter registration program, and a reduction in early voting days.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act by striking down a coverage formula that identified nine states – including North Carolina – with a history of voter discrimination. Before the 2013 ruling, federal approval was needed before any changes in election laws in these states could go into effect. However, in the immediate aftermath of Shelby County, Republicans in the North Carolina state legislature were able to implement the restrictions without federal approval.

The North Carolina N.A.A.C.P, League of Women Voters, a group of college students, and the Department of Justice initiated the case, arguing that the measures should be struck down, and that North Carolina should be required by the court to submit voting proposals to federal approval since the contested measures were intended to discriminate, in violation of the Constitution.

Several states remodeled their voting laws following the Shelby decision; however, North Carolina’s restrictions represent some of the broadest changes in the country.

This case is the latest development in a series of initiatives to protect the right to vote across the United States, including by restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act. PFAW recently participated in a rally in Roanoke, Virginia, and members of our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s leadership networks are participating in today’s events surrounding the beginning of the trial in Winston-Salem. 

PFAW Foundation

Rep. Robert Pittenger's 'Primary Mission' In Congress Is To Be 'An Emissary For Christ'

Last week, Rep. Robert Pittenger joined several of his fellow members of Congress, such as Trent Franks and Louie Gohmert, as well as Religious Right activists "Coach" Dave Daubenmire, E.W. Jackson, and others in speaking at a week-long revival meeting in Washington, D.C., called "Celebrate America," organized by televangelist and "Holy Laughter" preacher Rodney Howard-Browne.

Pittenger told the audience that his "primary mission" as a member of Congress is to spread the Gospel of Christ and that every issue of public policy is founded on the "reality of Christ."

"The most important message that needs to be heard in this city is the Gospel and love of Christ," Pittenger said, adding that people who hold different political views "just don't know my Savior."

"That's my primary mission as a member of Congress," the North Carolina Republican said. "Yes, to serve my constituents, to serve my region, and my state, and my country. But we're here as emissaries for Christ."

Pittenger went on to say that he is praying for President Obama because "the love of Christ  transforms everything we do and think and believe."

"I don't care what issue we work on in public policy and legislation," he said, "it all comes down to the reality of Christ."


Barber: 'Wipe Out' The 'Immoral Scourge Of Same-Sex Marriage'

Last month, the North Carolina legislature overrode the governor's veto to pass a law allowing state officials to refuse to perform marriages or issue marriage licenses to gay couples in the name of "religious liberty," and Matt Barber hailed the development as a "good first step" toward totally eliminating the "sexually immoral scourge of same-sex marriage."

"This is a good first step," Barber said on Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today, alongside co-host Mat Staver. "It's a step in the right direction. Ultimately, the endgame here, Mat, is same-sex marriage cannot be. It is a contradiction in terms, it's self-defeating, it's incongruous, it's an oxymoron, it's all of these things and more and it is immoral. So the sexually immoral scourge of same-sex marriage needs to be wiped out here in the United States. That's the endgame."

Barber went on to declared that similar laws need to be passed in every state to protect anti-gay public officials and Christian business owners from having to "participate in sinful behavior, which is a same-sex wedding ceremony."

"It is a pagan rite, a ritual that is anti-Christian, it is counter-Christian and it is sinful," he said, "and so we need more robust religious liberty protection laws in North Carolina and in every state of the union."

The Religious Right's Council Of Conservative Citizens Connection

After the manifesto of the man who committed a mass murder at a black church in Charleston last week was found to contain material lifted from the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly the White Citizens’ Councils, GOP politicians have been scrambling to erase their ties with the group, with several Republicans returning or donating to charity a total of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the group’s president.

But it’s proving to be more difficult for some in the GOP and their allies in the Religious Right to brush over a long history of ties with the group. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported, dozens of elected officials have attended the group’s meetings, including former RNC chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and current Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has also spoken to the group, as has former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.

Lott and the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms even went so far as to provide endorsements of the CCC, according to its newsletter.

A number of prominent figures on the Religious Right have also spoken to or defended the CCC, in a sign of the uneasy and often hidden alliances between the Religious Right and racist groups.

Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:

Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.

The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.

"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.

Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.

Tony Perkins

Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:

Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Roy Moore

The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.

(Image courtesy of Buzzfeed)

This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)

John Eidsmoe

John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Eidsmoe spoke to the 2005 national convention of the Council of Conservative citizens. He defended himself to the New Yorker, saying he would speak “to anyone.”

Ann Coulter

Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.

The best example of this nexus may be Ann Coulter, the anti-immigrant pundit beloved of CCC spokesman Jared Taylor and who cites white nationalist Peter Brimelow as an intellectual influence, but who has also been welcomed at Religious Right events like the Values Voter Summit.

Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:

Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.

Roy Beck

Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:

This post has been updated to add Roy Beck.

North Carolina Lt. Gov: New Marriage Discrimination Law 'Doesn't Discriminate Against Anybody'

Dan Forest, the Republican lieutenant governor of North Carolina, joined Craig James on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday to discuss a new law in his state that allows public officials to temporarily stop performing marriages if they want to avoid marrying a same-sex or even an interracial couple. Forest supported the bill, which the legislature passed over the veto of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Forest told James that the federal court that had struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage had overstepped its role because not only did it say the marriage ban was unconstitutional, it said that officials in the state “have to perform those marriages” and “went so far as to making sure that law was going to be enforced in North Carolina.”

Forest said that far from being unconstitutional, the new law is actually “upholding the Constitution” because the legislature is the one that assigns duties to magistrates. He added that the law “doesn’t discriminate against anybody, instead it does just the opposite” by supposedly protecting the religious freedom of state magistrates.

“Help me out here, because I’m just somewhat of a country boy,” James added sarcastically. “Go find someone else who will perform your ceremony! What’s wrong with that concept?”

The two then predictably declared that opposition to the new law is just anti-Christian persecution.

“You’re not telling them they can’t have a ceremony,” Forest said, “it’s just protecting the religious beliefs of those who don’t want to do it.”

“So, really what this is from the other side, from the left, this is saying that ‘we are not tolerant of you, we’re not tolerant of your beliefs, you do not fit into our great diverse rainbow of diversity here. We will accept everybody but Christians.’” Forest added. “And so that’s really what’s going on here, is it’s very focused on Christians only and so that’s why we’re seeing these issues.”

North Carolina Pastor Speaks Out About Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Marriage Law

In response to a bill authorizing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages becoming law in North Carolina this morning, Dr. Terence K. Leathers – a pastor at Mt. Vernon Christian Church in Clayton, North Carolina and a member of People For the American Way's African American Ministers In Action – released the following statement:

“Shame on our legislature for making this harmful and unnecessary bill become law. As a pastor, I believe this is not only a blow for the dignity of all North Carolinians but also a blow for true religious liberty.

“Governor McCrory did the right thing when he vetoed this bill, and the fact that our legislature overrode it shows just how far they will go in misusing the principle of religious liberty in order to discriminate. This is a sad day for our state.”

Last week, Dr. Leathers published an op-ed in The Huffington Post calling on the legislature not to misuse religious freedom to license public officials to discriminate.


Clayton, NC Pastor Speaks Out About Discriminatory Marriage Law

In response to a bill authorizing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages becoming law in North Carolina this morning, Dr. Terence K. Leathers – a pastor at Mt. Vernon Christian Church in Clayton, North Carolina and a member of People For the American Way's African American Ministers In Action – released the following statement:

“Shame on our legislature for making this harmful and unnecessary bill become law. As a pastor, I believe this is not only a blow for the dignity of all North Carolinians but also a blow for true religious liberty.

“Governor McCrory did the right thing when he vetoed this bill, and the fact that our legislature overrode it shows just how far they will go in misusing the principle of religious liberty in order to discriminate. This is a sad day for our state.”

Last week, Dr. Leathers published an op-ed in The Huffington Post calling on the legislature not to misuse religious freedom to license public officials to discriminate.


Klingenschmitt: Murder Of North Carolina Muslim Students Was An Anti-Christian Hate Crime

Last month, three young Muslims students were murdered in an apartment in North Carolina, in a crime allegedly stemming from a long-simmering dispute over parking. The man accused of committing the murders was reportedly an atheist who frequently posted anti-religious messages on his Facebook page.

Among the things he had posted on his Facebook page was an image asserting that despite their opposition to one another, "radical Christians" and "radical Muslims" actually hold similar ideological positions on a wide array of issues ... and because of that, Colorado state representative Gordon Klingenschmitt is convinced that these three Muslims were really killed "because they were like Christians."

Taking the Religious Right's persecution complex to its absurd conclusion, Klingenschmitt cited this particular Facebook post on his "Pray In Jesus Name" program today as proof that this "radical left-wing atheist who is going around killing people of faith ... killed these Muslims because they think like Christians":

Klingenschmitt: Requiring Government Officials To Recognize Gay Marriage Is 'The Yoke Of Slavery'

Shortly after a federal judge struck down North Carolina's ban on gay marriage last year, several magistrates resigned from their positions rather than perform same-sex weddings. Now, a state legislator has introduced a bill that would allow government officials to refuse to preside over such weddings or issue marriage licenses to gay couples based on "sincerely held religious objection" while retaining their jobs.

Gordon Klingenschmitt, not surprisingly, wholeheartedly supports this sort of legislation, saying on his "Pray In Jesus Name" program yesterday that requiring conservative Christians who work in government positions to follow the law when it comes to gay marriage is "the yoke of slavery."

As our colleague Peter Montgomery explained in a report just released yesterday, Religious Right activists are increasingly claiming that "religious liberty" ought to entitle them to engage in anti-gay discrimination, and that is exactly what Klingenschmitt is arguing.

As Klingenschmitt sees it, government workers should have the right to able to opt out of having to "participate in somebody else's sin" if they are a Christian, asserting that failure to grant such an exemption is a violation of the Constitution's ban on requiring a religious test to hold public office.

"We do pray against this demonic yoke of slavery," Klingenschmitt said, "which is being forced by some liberal judges upon the good people of North Carolina ... Father I pray that you would enable each individual person in North Carolina, whether they are a private or public servant, that they would retain their right of conscience, they would not be forced and compelled by the government to participate in somebody else's sin if it violates their religious views. God, give us religious freedom, especially for those now being compelled by the government to sin":

Anti-Choice Women's Groups Reportedly Pushed For Rape Reporting Requirement In Abortion Ban

Earlier this week, the National Review posted an audio recording of a call that a constituent of Rep. Renee Ellmers made to the North Carolina Republican’s office about her role in delaying a vote on a national 20-week abortion ban, which reveals, among other things, that prominent anti-choice women’s groups pushed for a requirement that rape survivors file police reports before being allowed an exemption from the ban.

Ellmers and other Republican women and moderates had objected to a provision that exempted rape survivors only if they first reported the assault to the police, warning that it could become a political liability for Republicans. In response, the GOP leadership withdrew the bill on the eve of a planned vote to work out what Sen. Lindsey Graham later called “this definitional problem with rape.”

In the call posted by National Review, an Ellmers staffer explains in frank detail the political machinations behind the wording of the rape exception and the ultimate withdrawal of the bill.

As we have noted, an earlier version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks and approved by the House Judiciary Committee in 2013 included no rape exception at all. But after what the Ellmers staff called a “huge communications error” from Franks, when he suggested that rape rarely results in pregnancy, Republican leaders quietly snuck in a rape exception to the bill before putting it up for a vote on the House floor.

The Ellmers staffer revealed that prominent anti-choice women’s groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America, objected to the rape exception and were instrumental in getting GOP leaders to modify it to include the reporting requirement.

These groups, the staffer said, told Republicans, “well, if you’re going to make an exception for rape and incest, it’s going to have to be reported to law enforcement officials.”

The staffer told the constituent that the rape exception was bad policy because it puts the federal government in the position of “identifying what is an is not rape”… and creates a “loophole” by which she alleged women would lie to law enforcement about being raped in order to access legal abortion.

The conversation starts at about the 3:00 mark in this video:

Mark Harris: Conservatives 'Need To Come Out Of The Closet'

After coming in third in his campaign for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in North Carolina, Pastor Mark Harris has returned to the helm of First Baptist Charlotte, where he opened last weekend’s sermon with remarks objecting to marriage equality and abortion rights.

Harris told his congregation that the majority of Americans oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage and abortion but the media are shutting out such conservative views, while judges, such as the one who struck down North Carolina’s ban on gay marriage, are unilaterally “changing the will of the people.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot believe the lies that will be fed,” Harris said. “Listen, everybody else is coming out of the closet, maybe we need to come out of the closet.”

GOP Rep. Blasts Anti-Boehner Group As 'Bad Actors' Who 'Thrive' On 'Media Attention'

Rep. Renee Ellmers blasted Tea Party Republicans yesterday for launching a half-baked movement to unseat House Speaker John Boehner in today’s leadership election. In an interview on Newsmax TV yesterday, the North Carolina Republican called the group challenging Boehner, which is led by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., “bad actors” who are “acting out” because they “thrive” on “media attention.”

“Those who are acting out right now, though, are getting some media attention,” she said. “That’s all it is. It’s media attention. These are folks that thrive on it. They’re bad actors right now because they’re acting as if they’re going against the party and there’s really no substance to it whatsoever. If they truly meant what their plan was for a new speaker of the House or moving an agenda in a different way, then they should have acted months ago and they did not.”

When host Ed Berliner asked Ellmers, who was elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, if the rebelling members of Congress were Tea Party members, she distanced herself: “I don’t know what they associate themselves with, but I can tell you that they get a lot of media attention.”

Fourth Circuit Strikes Down North Carolina Ultrasound Law

Judges nominated by Reagan, Clinton, and Bush-43 agree that North Carolina's law violates the Constitution.
PFAW Foundation

Rick Santorum Wishes Obama Would Be A Racial Uniter Like Segregationists Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms

Potential Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum had an opportunity to speak at length to Iowa conservatives last week, when he guest hosted Steve Deace’s radio show on Veterans Day. The three-hour program gave Santorum plenty of time to muse on a variety of topics, including his admiration for segregation proponents Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms and his belief that President Obama’s “greatest failing” has been his failure to end racism in America.

Santorum mentioned that he had recently been invited to speak at Liberty University, which led him into a tangent on how much he admires the school’s founder, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Although “how the press treated Rev. Falwell was not necessarily positive,” Santorum said, he found Falwell to be “completely gracious, warm [and] affirming.”

This made Santorum think of the late Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who he said exhibited “probably the starkest contrast of what the press used to portray and what the reality was.”

“There was no one nicer than Jesse Helms,” Santorum said. “I mean, I don’t think a single Democrat would tell you that on a personal level, there was anybody that was more gentlemanly, more kind than Jesse.” (He might want to check with Carol Mosely-Braun on that.)

He added that the “breakup of any kind of cooperation” in government is happening because people like President Obama are failing to be gentlemen like Jesse Helms:

Later in the program Santorum took a call from a listener who complained that the media was giving less coverage to looting and vandalism in Ferguson, Missouri, than to “this police officer who has generally a pristine record in law enforcement" who "simply chose to defend himself.”

“I completely understand your position,” Santorum responded, before accusing the media and President Obama of fomenting “racial division” and “pitting one group against another.”

President Obama’s “greatest failing,” he added, was that he had the opportunity "to be a transformational figure from a racial point of view and he has abandoned the field.”

How 2014's Elections Will Influence 2016's Voting Rights

Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.

In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”

In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.

In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.

In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.

Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states' respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.

One exception to the trend is Pennsylvania, where Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who backed a harsh voter ID law that has since been struck down in the courts, lost to voting rights supporter Tom Wolf. Although Wolf will contend with a Republican majority in the state legislature, he will be able to appoint a secretary of the commonwealth.

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