Texas

Texas School Board Let Anti-Muslim Group Pressure Publishers To Rewrite Religion Textbooks

Last month, the Texas State Board of Education approved a set of social studies textbooks after some disputes between Christian Right members of the board and scholars who had reviewed the texts. Although experts recruited by the Texas Freedom Network to review the proposed texts managed to convince textbook companies to remove some objectionable material, some claims demanded by conservative members of the board remained, including assertions that Moses was a direct influence on the founding of the U.S.

In an article for Religion Dispatches today, one of TFN’s reviewers, David R. Brockman, who teaches religious studies at Southern Methodist University, writes about his experience as a textbook reviewer and his frustrations with the board’s process for reviewing curricula on world religions. “The curriculum standards and the adoption process in Texas don’t simply lack balanced and accurate coverage of the world’s religions; they work against it,” he writes. “And while textbook publishers generally struggle against this tide, they are sometimes dragged along with it.”

In one example, Brockman writes that the Christian Right bloc on the school board “insisted that the publishers address” a last-minute set of comments submitted by Truth in Texas Textbooks, a group associated with the anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America, whose reviewers, with one exception, had no “relevant social studies credentials” and demanded that the textbooks include hostile and sometimes false comments about Islam. Although the textbook companies mostly refused TTT’s requests (many with clear exasperation), a few were successful, including a redefinition of the word “jihad”:

The problem is that, in 2014 at least, the conservative majority on the SBOE quite clearly gave comments from ideologically-driven pressure groups (such as Texas Eagle Forum and Texas Values Action) greater weight than comments from credentialed field specialists (such as myself and my fellow reviewers).

A mere two weeks before the SBOE was to take its final vote on the textbooks, and long after other public groups had filed their comments, Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT), which has allies on the SBOE, presented their reviews—469 pages of material. Two days before the final adoption vote was to take place, Christian Right members of the SBOE made much of the TTT criticisms and insisted that publishers address them.

To judge from its website, the only TTT reviewer with relevant social studies credentials was a professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. However, he reviewed only one world history textbook, and quite appropriately restricted his comments to his areas of expertise.

The other reviewers on TTT’s list appear to have no academic credentials in history, geography, economics, or religious studies (though they do include a Ph.D. in “educational leadership,” and a professor of foreign languages). Despite a lack of pertinent credentials, the TTT reviewers weighed in on a wide range of topics, including prehistory, climate change, economics, political science, and U.S. government.

But they directed special vitriol at the alleged “dangers” posed by Islam. One reviewer wrote of Islam’s “threat to the Western world,” while another lumped Muslims together with communists and socialists commenting, bizarrely, that “The greatest fear for a communist, a socialist or a Muslim is Truth.”

Other TTT comments were just plain false: “Islam is spread by the sword while monotheistic religions are not.”

(Try telling that to an Aztec or Inca—not to mention the fact that Islam is a “monotheistic religion.”)

Yet despite TTT’s lack of credentials and the obviously biased and tendentious nature of their critiques, conservative SBOE members insisted that publishers give them the same level of attention they gave comments from credentialed scholars.

Sadly, in some cases, publishers actually changed their text to suit TTT, as when Pearson Learning ( see page 16) removed from its world history text the factually correct statement that jihad “is most frequently used [by Muslims] to describe an inner struggle in God’s service.” In its place Pearson inserted more ambiguous wording: “For some Muslims, [jihad] means a struggle against one’s evil inclinations. For other Muslims, it refers to a struggle or violent holy war to defend or spread Islam.”

While this change may please TTT and other anti-Islam groups, it deprives students of the important fact that the “holy war” interpretation of jihad is held by only a small minority in the Muslim community today.

Hagee Ministries Creating A 'Sanctuary Of Hope' To Train Up God's Army And Take Back America

On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," Matthew Hagee announced the creation of something called "The Sanctuary of Hope," which John Hagee Ministries intends to build as a home/school for orphans, those in foster care, and children of parents who want to ensure they get a godly education and through which Hagee and his father intends to transform America.

"Right now, the battle lines in this country are for the young people," he explained. "The one thing that's missing in American education right now? The Word of God. The one thing that's missing in our decisions in government, in many cases? The Word of God. And whenever you do not have the foundation of your society, which is the Word of God, in the decisions that you are making, you're going the wrong direction."

The Sanctuary of Hope is being created to correct this problem, Hagee then explained in a video promoting the project.

"How do we take America back? One leader at a time. That school is going to train leaders that are going to make godly decisions. How are we going to take this country back? One generation at a time and the Sanctuary of Hope is going to be the training ground for the soldiers in the army of the living God that are going to do great things for his kingdom":

Gohmert: National Cathedral Muslim Prayer Service Timed To 'Terrorist' Anniversary

Shortly after last month’s elections, conservative pundit David Horowitz gathered a variety of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activists, including a handful of members of Congress and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, at his annual retreat at a beach resort in Florida.

It appears that Wilders formed a strong connection with Rep. Louie Gohmert who, after Wilders’ speech to the event, stood to tell the Dutch visitor about the Muslim prayer service that had been recently held in the National Cathedral in Washington. Gohmert asserted that the service was purposefully timed by “these terrorists” to mark the hundredth anniversary of a fatwa issued by the Ottoman caliph in the early days of World War I.

“Yesterday, for the first time, Friday Muslim prayers were conducted in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.,” Gohmert said. “And what the Episcopal Church didn’t realize and what you know better than most anyone, anniversaries are a big deal to these terrorists and it’s the hundredth — I’d like to say it’s the thousandth, but it was the hundredth anniversary —November 14, 1914, when the last caliph of the Ottoman Empire, the last one, issued a fatwa that started the murder spree that began with young girls being raped and then crucified. So anyway, we see what’s happening here, but hardly a peep about yesterday.”

Wilders responded by asking the audience to stand and applaud Gohmert and Rep. Michele Bachmann for having “the guts to talk about the issue.”

The exchange came after a speech in which Wilders gave his standard calls for Western countries to “stop all immigration from Islamic countries,” ban the building of mosques and “close down all Islamic schools.”

“Islam is evil,” he told the enthusiastic crowd. “We must shout this out so loud that even President Obama and all the other cowards in politics all over the West will hear it.”

Bobby Jindal's Prayer Rally Materials Blame Gays & Legal Abortion For Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is following in the footsteps of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and kicking off his possible presidential campaign next month with a stadium prayer rally organized by radical religious right activists. As Brian reported on Monday, the virulently anti-gay Christian nationalist American Family Association, influential Religious Right leader David Lane and Doug Stringer, a self-proclaimed “apostle” from Texas who has blamed America’s rejection of God for the September 11 attacks, are spearheading Jindal’s Baton Rouge rally.

These activists are the perfect ambassadors for the Christian nationalists that Jindal appears to be courting. In a letter introducing the rally — printed on official governor’s mansion stationary — Jindal warns of “a new world order of chaos…being driven by militant Islam seeking to impose Sharia Law worldwide” and domestic epidemics of “fatherless homes,” “drugs and crime in our inner cities” and “a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism,” problems for which Jesus Christ “is America’s only hope.”

Jindal’s prayer rally appears to be so closely modeled after Perry’s that its organizers are even reusing materials from the 2011 Texas event, including a prayer guide contending that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God’s displeasure with the “alternative lifestyle” of homosexuality, marriage equality, legal abortion, and Internet pornography.

The prayer guide listed on the “resources” page of the website for Jindal's rally includes suggestions for seven days of prayer leading up the event. It appears to be exactly the same as the guide disturbed to participants in Perry’s event in 2011  it hasn't even been updated to include the increased number of states that are bringing God’s judgment on America by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry:

Day 2 - Locust plagues

CONSIDERATION

In Joelʼs day Israel experienced the destruction of a massive locust plague. The nationʼs economy was crippled because of the decimation of the agriculture. The reason these plagues came was because of the peopleʼs negligence to worship and serve God with their whole heart. Because the people grew cold and eventually departed from God, they experienced incredible hardships. The result of their inner departure was multiple external crises.

In America today we face a similar crisis. We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available ondemand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation “under God” it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity.

This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless.

Furthermore, because of mismanagement and greed, our national economy is in incredible disarray, with our national debt topping 14 trillion dollars. We have effectively mortgaged our childrenʼs future, while spending money we do not have on entitlements as we search in vain for “the American dream”. The first “wave of locusts” has begun to descend upon us and many are oblivious to the fact that destruction has come and is still coming.

God destined America to be a gospel beacon to the rest of the earth – a nation under God who declares His goodness, truth and mercy to a world desperately in need.

The Jindal rally’s prayer guide also includes the 2011 guide’s plea to conservative Christians to save the United States from “debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.”

There is much at stake for the church in America. In many ways we are at a crossroads of two divergent paths. Either the church will turn to the Lord with her whole heart, sparking a great revival and reformation in our nation, or she will continue in compromise, keeping the status quo as we watch our nation turn to debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.

(Emphases are ours.)

Both “Response” rallies are modeled after the “Call” rallies organized by Religious Right leader Lou Engle. The leadership team of Perry’s rally included a number of officials from the International House of Prayer, a ministry closely associated with Engle that promotes the dominionist theology that calls for evangelical Christians to gain control of all parts American culture and government. 

Louie Gohmert's Bizarre Explanation Of Why Central American Gang Violence Is A Hoax

Speaking on a panel about immigration at conservative pundit David Horowitz’s “Restoration Weekend” last month, Rep. Louie Gohmert recounted a conversation he had with “a Hispanic border patrolman” which he said proved that the crisis of children fleeing to the U.S. border from violence in Central America was a hoax.

Insisting that “not a single child, young child, ever comes across unaccompanied” because many came with the help of smugglers, the Texas Republican said that the fact that some of the children were brought to the border by people affiliated with gangs shows that they were not actually fleeing gang violence.

Gohmert quoted the border patrolman, who he said told the children: “Now you may find some gringo who buys that stuff, but you and I know you paid a gang to bring you into this country, so don’t tell me you came to escape gang violence!”

Gohmert has previously claimed that the Central American children where lying about gang violence.

In the same panel discussion, Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana claimed that unlike “the way it worked traditionally in America,” today’s immigrants “come from countries where they look to the government, that’s their tradition is that the government takes care of them.”

“Now when it destroys their civilization, when it destroys their economy, they look for another place to go. And where do they come? They come here. And then what you see is a progressive lower standard of living.”

“Many of them now when they come they refuse to learn our culture, they refuse to learn our language, they refuse to build the skills necessary to be successful in America,” he added.

Texas Approves Textbooks With Moses As Honorary Founding Father

The Texas State Board of Education approved several dozen social studies textbooks after a contentious battle over their treatment of subjects including climate change, the role of slavery in the Civil War, Islam, and biblical influence in America’s founding. One major publisher, however, withdrew a book from consideration, saying that it was unable to meet all the standards set by the school board.

The Texas Freedom Network, which live-blogged today’s vote, said that much problematic material had been removed from the proposed textbooks, including climate denial and “offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens,” but that references to Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy remained. But TFN notes that publishers posted a number of last-minute changes to the textbooks yesterday, leaving board members and observers without time to figure out exactly what was in the approved texts:

The Texas Education Agency posted scores of pages of publisher comments and textbook revisions after the last public hearing on Tuesday. Miller said scholars did not have an opportunity to review and comment on the numerous changes publishers have submitted since the last public hearing on Tuesday. Some of those changes appeared to have been negotiated with state board members behind closed doors.

During a months-long process, publishers made a number of improvements to their textbooks. Those improvements included removing inaccurate information promoting climate change denialism; deleting offensive cartoons comparing beneficiaries of affirmative action to space aliens; making clearer that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War; and revising passages that had promoted unfair negative stereotypes of Muslims. Scholars and the general public had ample opportunity to review and comment on those revisions.

However, the new textbooks also include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. Scholars from across the country have said such claims are inaccurate and mislead students about the historical record.

The textbooks were approved despite a last-minute attempt by Truth in Texas Textbooks, a group with ties to the anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America, to remove accurate information about Islam, reduce coverage of civil rights (which it found to promote unsavory “racial politics”), and insert information about Young Earth Creationism sourced to the conservative website Conservapedia. [TFN’s summary of Truth In Texas Textbooks’ complains is in this pdf.]

The Texas Tribune adds that the group’s last-minute request also included downplaying the environmental impact of coal mining and noting in a chapter about colonization that Native Americans already discriminated against and oppressed each other:

The Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition, all but unheard from for months while new social studies textbooks and instructional materials were being vetted, submitted a 469-page report in late October identifying more than 1,500 “factual errors, omission of facts, half-truths and agenda biases” in proposed materials.

Among its objections: A passage on coal mining should say it has “minimal effect on the environment"; a chapter on Spanish colonization of Latin America should point out the “continuous discrimination and oppression practiced by the native American peoples on each other”; and a statement that Shariah law requires religious tolerance of non-Muslims should be removed.

...

The group was formed by retired Lt. Col. Roy White, a Tea Party activist who also leads the Bexar County Chapter of ACT! for America, an organization dedicated to fighting extremist Islam. Its founder, Brigitte Gabriel, is known for her views that Muslims in the United States pose a danger to national security.

TFN tells us that it appears that Truth in Texas Textbooks did not succeed in getting any "substantive changes" into the books.

Video: The Worst Of The GOP's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

As President Obama prepares to announce the steps that he will take to provide temporary deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants, it’s important to remember why he’s taking this step. It’s not because Obama and Democrats refuse to work with Republicans to address pressing immigration problems. It’s because a small but influential segment of the Republican caucus refuses to do anything to fix the immigration system.

Today, we at People For the American Way joined with American Bridge to release a video highlighting the kind of rhetoric from congressional Republicans that has sunk any kind of attempt at bipartisan immigration reform.

Some of the examples of anti-immigrant rhetoric from GOP members of Congress will be familiar to RWW readers. And, sadly, we have plenty more where they came from.

Ted Cruz Vows to Damage Texas Courts in Response to Obama's Immigration Action

In response to President Obama's upcoming action on immigration, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has vowed to retaliate by sabotaging the federal court system in his own state.

No, that's not how he phrased it, but that would be the impact of his vow. Yesterday in Politico, Cruz wrote how he thinks the Senate should respond to the president's policy decisions on immigration enforcement:

If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.

While such a refusal to perform one of the basic functions of the Senate would harm the entire nation, the damage in Texas would be particularly severe. No state has more judicial vacancies than the Lone Star State. No state even comes close.

As of today, Texas is suffering from eleven current federal court vacancies, with another four known to be opening in the next few months. The White House has worked closely with Sens. Cruz and Cornyn to identify potential nominees, but progress has been slow: Only six of the vacancies even have nominees; three of these have not yet had their committee hearings.

But the other three – for the Eastern and Western Districts – advanced through the Judiciary Committee this morning and are now ready for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. All three would fill vacancies formally designated as judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Confirming them would be a good start at addressing the vacancy crisis in Texas.

And that's what is it: a crisis. As we wrote earlier this month in a Huffington Post piece entitled Lame Duck Opportunity and Obligation: Confirm Judges:

The situation is even more dire in Texas, where the Senate has a chance to fill three vacancies in the Eastern and Western Districts. The Western District judgeship has been vacant since 2008, and the Judicial Conference has asked for five new judgeships there to carry the load on top of filling all the existing vacancies. Chief Judge Fred Biery discussed the need for new judges last year, saying, "It would be nice to get some help. We are pedaling as fast as we can on an increasingly rickety bicycle." Judge David Ezra, formerly of Hawaii, explained why he was moving to Texas to hear cases in the Western District: "This is corollary to having a big wild fire in the Southwest Border states, and fire fighters from Hawaii going there to help put out the fire."

The Eastern District of Texas is in similar need of getting its vacancies filled during the lame duck: Of the nation's 94 federal districts, only two have had more weighted filings per judgeship than the Eastern District, according to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts' most recent statistics. Small wonder, then, that the Judicial Conference has asked for two new judgeships there: Even if every judgeship were filled, that just isn't enough. To make matters worse, two more judges in the Eastern District have announced their intention to retire or take senior status next year, making it all the more important to fill the current vacancies now.

Even if the three nominees are confirmed during the lame duck, as they should be, more vacancies in both of those districts will open up early next year. Texas would still have eight vacancies, a number that would rise to twelve in the next few months.

To express his fury at President Obama and rally his right-wing base, Cruz would work to make sure that all these vacancies remain unfilled, which would hurt a lot of innocent Texans.

Cross-posted from the PFAW blog.

Ted Cruz Vows to Damage Texas Courts in Response to Obama's Immigration Action

Ted Cruz urges a retaliatory freeze on all confirmations next year, which would cause particular damage to courts in his own state.
PFAW

Lamar Smith: Democrats Want Immigration Action Because They're 'Banking On' New Votes

Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, said today that the “extreme fringe of the Democratic Party” is supporting an executive action providing deportation relief to some undocumented immigrants because it “wants to treat those from other countries better than we treat our own American citizens” and ultimately is “banking” on the votes of new immigrants.

“It’s amazing that an American president, a United States president, would put the interest of those who don’t live in the country or are in the country illegally ahead of the interest of American citizens,” Smith told Newsmax host J.D. Hayworth.

When Hayworth asked Smith about far-right columnist Selwyn Duke’s argument that deportation relief would amount to a “get-out-the-vote drive” for Democrats, Smith agreed, saying “demographics” indicate that immigrants covered under the proposed executive action — which does not include a path to citizenship or voting rights — will give 80 percent of their votes to Democrats.

“I wish that weren’t the case, but those are the demographics and the president and the Democratic Party are banking on them, and that’s why I say they’re putting the interest of other individuals ahead of the interests of U.S. citizens,” he said.

Rick Scarborough: 'Christians Have Infiltrated The Republican Party In Texas' And Turned It Into A Revival Meeting

Vision America's Rick Scarborough was a guest on Gordon Klingenschmitt's "Pray In Jesus Name" program recently, where he explained that God is blessing the state of Texas because "Christians have infiltrated" and taken over the state GOP.

Scarborough was discussing his efforts to mobilize right-wing pastors to get involved in politics across the nation and noting that he has had a great deal of success in Texas; so much so that if one now attends an annual Republican Party convention in Texas, it feels as if one is attending a revival meeting.

"Christians have infiltrated the Republican Party in Texas and it's like going to revival meetings when you go to our state conventions," Scarborough said. "That's why God's blessing our state and why, I believe, Texas has become a model for other states":

Five Conservatives Who Don't Understand Net Neutrality…But Are Definitely Against It!

On Monday, President Obama publicly urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt strong rules preserving net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data equally.

Obama’s comments placed a previously fairly niche technical issue right into the middle of the national political debate, forcing commentators to take a side on something many of them did not seem to understand. But luckily, many conservative politicians and pundits have an easy way of deciding where to stand on an issue: if Obama is for it, it will destroy America and they are against it!

1. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz got the right-wing net neutrality pile-on started with a tweet calling the proposal “Obamacare for the Internet."

It didn’t really make sense, but as Matt Yglesias notes, that wasn’t the point: “What, if anything, that phrase means is difficult to say. But its political significance is easy to grasp. All true conservatives hate Obamacare, so if net neutrality is Obamacare for the internet, all true conservatives should rally against it.”

2. Bryan Fischer

As soon as Cruz spoke out, his far-right acolytes seem to have felt obligated to follow. On his radio program on Monday, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer struggled to grasp the proposal that he was definitely against, claiming that it would ban internet providers from charging customers more for faster service — something that already happens and that has nothing to do with net neutrality.

3. Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck is outraged that President Obama wants to end “the freedom of the internet” and ruin something that’s “working pretty well” because “the government is not involved in it at all.” Apparently unaware that current FCC regulations allow his online network, The Blaze, to stream on an open internet, Beck claimed that regulations preserving net neutrality would end this supposedly government-free system in which he operates his business.

Beck’s cohost Pat Gray accidentally debunked his own point by comparing Internet regulation to the interstate highway system, which he seems to also think remains open and accessible because it’s free from government interference.

4. FreedomWorks

The Tea Party group FreedomWorks got into the game yesterday with a video “clearing up” net neutrality for its supporters.

As Consumerist explains, FreedomWorks’ net neutrality explanation is basically a work of fiction:

“Supporters of the plan call it a [uses finger quotes] ‘free and open Internet’ but in reality it’s anything but,” says Somberg. “What net neutrality does is force providers to treat all Web content equally — the same speeds, the same prices, the same access.”

This is simply untrue.

Net neutrality merely says that ISPs can’t slow down, block, or prioritize any content. It doesn’t mean that everything gets treated with the same speed — just that an ISP does nothing to impede or boost any particular content company’s speed. So if it’s fast coming in from the company, it should be fast going out to the end-user. And if the host is slow, then it remains slow.

5. Alex Jones

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones added his own special twist to the net neutrality debate, claiming that it is a “high tech version of what the Soviets and the Nazis and the Chinese Communists and Fidel Castro and every other nut ball did.” 

Bonus: David Barton

While net neutrality might have just recently crossed the radar of many right-wing commentators, make-believe historian David Barton has been beating the anti-net-neutrality drum for years. In 2011, Barton called net neutrality “socialism on the internet” and “redistribution of wealth through the internet” and insisted that it is "wicked stuff" that goes against the dictates of the Bible and the Founding Fathers.

This launched Barton into a discourse on the concept of “fairness,” which he said “is a word no Christian should ever use in their vocabulary” because “what happened to Jesus wasn’t fair.”

Anti-Choice Group Moving Into Planned Parenthood Clinic Closed By Texas Abortion Restrictions

Last year, hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a sweeping anti-choice bill designed to shut down abortion providers in the state, Planned Parenthood announced that it would be closing three of its Texas clinics that provide abortion services, all of them in rural areas, leaving women seeking an abortion far from other providers.

Now, the anti-choice group 40 Days for Life, which organizes protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, is announcing that it is moving its national headquarters into one of the shuttered Planned Parenthood facilities in Texas. Where Planned Parenthood used to provide medical care, 40 Days for Life is also planning to house an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center.

40 Days for Life credits its members’ prayers for giving it its new headquarters:

BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION, Texas /Christian Newswire/ -- The worldwide 40 Days for Life movement is moving its headquarters into a former Planned Parenthood abortion center in Bryan/College Station, Texas. The pro-life initiative began outside that same facility ten years ago.

"This news shows what God can accomplish when His people pray," said Shawn Carney, campaign director of 40 Days for Life. "More than 6,400 children lost their lives in this building, but God is making 'all things new.' What was once a place of death and despair is now going to be a place of life and hope. We are excited to start using this location to aid the rapid worldwide growth of 40 Days for Life, and to help other cities become abortion-free."



Short-term plans include a memorial service for the children lost to abortion inside the building, and tearing down the tall, black iron fence surrounding the property as part of renovations.

The new 40 Days for Life headquarters will be used to help many more communities end abortion. The building will also house Hope Pregnancy Center, an affiliate of CareNet, as they expand their local medical services to include free STD testing. "The partnership between the two organizations demonstrates the close relationship between 40 Days for Life and life-saving pregnancy resource centers," Carney said.

Planned Parenthood, however, had a different explanation for the clinic’s closing: drastic cuts to family planning aid in Texas, aimed directly at Planned Parenthood:

Rochelle Tafolla with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said they’re closing the center because of continued and targeted cuts to family planning.

She said it started when the budget for the Family Planning Network was drastically cut. Soon after, Tafolla said they were further hindered when the Women’s Health Program in Texas came to an end.

And those two programs provided the vast majority of access for women in east Texas to get basic health care, said Tafolla. Well-Woman exams, birth control and cervical cancer screenings.

Tafolla said it’s the City of Bryan and surrounding communities that will suffer from the closing.

The big deal is that women have relied on Planned Parenthood. They’ve come to trust us, said Tafolla. They know that they can get nonjudgmental, unbiased information from us. They know that we are affordable, and they know that they can get into us whenever they need to.

Tafolla said it will be much more difficult for women to get access to their kind of help.

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.

Laurence White: With Houston Subpoenas, Satan Has Finally 'Tipped His Hand'

Laurence White, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, was the guest on today's broadcast of "WallBuilders Live" where, predictably, the controversy over the city government having subpoenaed documents, including sermons, from a few local pastors came up for discussion.

White remarked that by issuing these subpoenas, which have since been withdrawn, Satan had finally "tipped his hand."

"What's happening is The Adversary, in his arrogance and his pride, has become so bold that he's tipped his hand," White said. "He's usually the great masquerader who hides his real goal, bit in this case, he made the mistake of revealing his true agenda."

This is not a political debate, White declared, but rather proof that the "godless humanism of the religion that has come to predominate throughout our culture" believes itself to be so powerful that it can now openly seek to destroy Christianity.

"Christians may finally begin to recognize how much is at stake here and what we stand to lose," White hoped. "This is about the integrity of our faith as Christians":

Rick Perry, Ron Johnson And Jeff Sessions To Join Anti-Muslim Activists At Florida Beach Resort Confab

FrontPageMag editor and increasingly unhinged anti-Obama yeller David Horowitz is hosting his annual “Restoration Weekend” for anti-Muslim activists at a beach resort in Florida this month. This year, Horowitz has recruited an impressive slate of Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to partake in the event’s offerings of golf, spa treatments, and Muslim-bashing.

Joining the GOP politicians at the Palm Beach weekend will be anti-Muslim activists including the Family Research Council’s Jerry BoykinJihadWatch’s Robert SpencerNational Review columnist Andrew McCarthy and, as Horowitz announced this weekend on Newsmax, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Ben Shapiro will also be at the event, according to its website, along with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, Heritage Foundation economics chief Stephen Moore and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel.

Horowitz organizes and funds the annual Restoration Weekend through his David Horowitz Freedom Center — attendees pay between $1,750 and $20,000, but the group’s most recent available tax return shows the 2012 event didn’t even break even. At past events, Horowitz has attracted GOP luminaries including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann. All apparently undeterred by their host’s record of anti-Muslim extremism, including accusing former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (whose wife is Muslim) of being secret Muslim Brotherhood agents.

In just the past year, Horowitz’s commentary has moved even further to the fringe. As the Justice Department launched an investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, Horowitz accused Attorney General Eric Holder of leading a black “lynch mob.” A day earlier, Horowitz said he was “sure” President Obama was secretly a Muslim because “he’s a pretend Christian in the same way he’s a pretend American.”

Such anti-Obama conspiracy theories have a welcome place at Horowitz’s Restoration Weekends. At last year’s event, for instance, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona agreed with Robert Spencer’s statement that President Obama is either a secret Muslim or just acting like one:

Wilders, who has spoken at past Horowitz-affiliated events, including at least one Restoration Weekend, is currently on a U.S. tour that included lunch at the Capitol with Bachmann. Wilders, one of the most fiercely anti-Islam voices in Europe has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and this year lost some prominent members of his own party when he targeted Moroccans living in the Netherlands to stir up support before the European elections.

Houston Pastors Say America Is Becoming A Police State Like Cuba and Vietnam

Last night's "I Stand Sunday" rally opened with remarks from some of the Houston pastors who had their sermons subpoenaed by the government as part of the lawsuit seeking to overturn the city's nondiscrimination ordinance, with pastors from Cuba and Vietnam warning that America was now falling under tyranny, just like the nations they had fled.

Magda Hermida declared that she and her husband had fled Cuba's police state because their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion were oppressed by the government only to discover that now the same thing is happening in America.

"This mayor wants to use her power to see the sermon of our pastor and use them against us," she said. "The police state this creates is that same that my husband and I experienced in Cuba."

Khanh Huynh echoed that statement, declaring that he and millions of others had fled Vietnam because "the freedom of speech and freedom of religion were among the first to be lost in Vietnam and now I'm facing the same marching boot of tyranny right here where I live."

Finally, Willie Davis railed against the city's nondiscrimination ordinance, asking "how can you call something right when it's all wrong" and declaring that since the city had no problem with anti-gay discrimination, the ordinance has ended up needlessly dividing the city because gay rights is not a civil rights issue.

"I'm deeply offended simply by this ordinance," Davis stated, because "it piggy-backs on the 1964 Civil Rights Act which has nothing to do with this [issue]." With the crowd giving him a standing ovation, Davis declared that they will continue to fight against this ordinance until it is repealed "for we know it's what's right in the sight of God":

John Roberts, Calling Strikes and Strikes

Allowing Texas to enforce a voter ID law found to be intentionally discriminatory suggests the "umpire" takes sides.
PFAW Foundation

Rafael Cruz: Voters Are 'Disobeying God' By Failing To Elect 'Righteous' Politicians

In an interview last month with Religious Right radio host Glenn Pav, Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and frequent campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz warned that God is going to punish evangelical pastors who don’t turn out their congregations to vote for “righteous” candidates.

After discussing how God told him that He would hold pastors accountable for low election turnout among evangelical Christians, Cruz warned that God would fault pastors for their supposed silence on Supreme Court decisions blocking school-sponsored prayer, which he said led to spikes in teen pregnancy and violent crime, and securing abortion rights.

“If the righteous are not voting, if the righteous are not even running for office, what is left is the wicked electing the wicked,” he said. “I mean, it’s our fault. It’s our fault because the people of God are not engaged in the process.”

He lamented that unlike anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christians in the U.S. today are “not even speaking out against the evil that is all around us” but are instead “acquiescing because of fear” and “excusing everything because of political correctness.”

Citing a fallacious David Barton story about Congress printing a Bible to use as a school textbook in the early days of the republic, Cruz said America’s downward slide began with the Supreme Court decisions barring government-organized prayer in public schools. “But the travesty, the tragic thing is the Church remained silent after those two decisions,” he said.

“The consequence of that silence was that those two decisions caused, number one, teen pregnancy to skyrocket after 1963, as did violent crime,” he added.

“How long are we going to remain silent?” he asked. “But the more important question, Glenn, is, is God going to hold us accountable for that silence?”

Later in the program, Cruz shared his views on America’s “divinely inspired” founding.

“I am absolutely convinced, Glenn, that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were divinely inspired documents,” he said. “They were written on the knees of the Framers. These were men of God seeking revelation from God, and that’s what they got.”

He argued that previous governments were set up so that “authority flows from God to the government to the people,” leading to monarchy and tyranny. But at the beginning of America, he said, “God gave them a different model and the model God gave the Framers is authority flows from God to the people to the government.”

“And so with that authority comes the responsibility for We the People to elect righteous leaders. And people in the Church need to understand, if we fail that responsibility to elect righteous leaders, we are disobeying God.”

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