Remember how right-wing leaders were outraged – OUTRAGED! - when President Obama supposedly politicized the National Prayer breakfast by talking about how his Christian faith influenced his approach to issues like progressive taxation? Such complaints from the likes of Ralph Reed – whose career has been devoted to politicizing faith – were clearly pushing the hypocrisy meter to its limits. As Kyle noted yesterday, Religious Right folks have been celebrating the prayer breakfast speech by Eric Metaxas, a biographer of the Hitler-resisting pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer, because Mataxas made a comparison between the Holocaust and legal abortion, suggesting that supporters of reproductive choice were modern-day Nazis – and certainly not Christians.
This morning a “special bulletin” from the dominionist Oak Initiative republished a National Review column from a few weeks ago that we hadn’t noticed at the time. The column by conservative author and producer Mark Joseph is one long extended gloat about just how political – and how anti-Obama – Metaxas’s keynote was. Joseph delights in Metaxas using the prayer breakfast to send “a series of heat-seeking missiles” in the president’s direction:
If the organizers of the national prayer breakfast ever want a sitting president to attend their event again, they need to expect that any leader in his right mind is going to ask — no, demand — that he be allowed to see a copy of the keynote address that is traditionally given immediately before the president’s.
That’s how devastating was the speech given by a little known historical biographer named Eric Metaxas, whose clever wit and punchy humor barely disguised a series of heat-seeking missiles that were sent, intentionally or not, in the commander-in-chief’s direction….
Joseph belittles Obama’s speaking of his faith, and giddily cites Metaxas, suggesting that Obama’s references to scripture were actually demonic.
Standing no more than five feet from Obama whose binder had a speech chock full of quotes from the Good Book, Metaxas said of Jesus:
“When he was tempted in the desert, who was the one throwing Bible verses at him? Satan. That is a perfect picture of dead religion. Using the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic.”
“Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing,” Metaxas added for good measure, in case anybody missed his point.
Joseph also mocks Obama for discussing how other religions share with Christians the values contained in the Golden Rule: "Translation: Christianity is great and so are the other major religions, which essentially teach the same stuff." In contrast, Joseph celebrates Metaxas for insisting on the uniqueness and centrality of Jesus and suggesting that those who support women’s access to abortion live apart from God and Jesus.
So, to recap the ground rules for the National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama talking about the values he as a Christian shares with those of other faiths, and how he understands Christian teaching about the responsibilities of those who have had good fortune = bad. Religious Right speaker insisting on the superiority of Christianity, and calling those who disagree with him demonic Nazis = good.
Cindy Jacobs and her husband Mike on God Knows discussed a recent meeting they had with right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton where they agreed that problems such as “teen suicide, rape, murder [and] assault” are a result of a 1962 Supreme Court decision barring school-organized prayer. Claims that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Engel v. Vitale is responsible for America’s cultural and moral decline are commonplaceintheReligiousRight, and Barton even started his career by blaming the decision for a decline in SAT scores.
According to Cindy Jacobs, public schools in the U.S. had no problems besides “cutting in line” and “throwing spit wads” before 1962. Of course, Jacobs seems to ignore the egregious discrimination that African American students faced in the era of legalized segregation followed by the de facto segregation of schools, and even in integrated schools students like the Little Rock Nine in 1957 faced far more problems that spit wads.
While she argued that the end of school-organized prayer led to “every evil thing” in America today, her husband claimed that a recent meeting of prophets decided that the European Union’s current “fiscal hardships” are a result of the fact that “they refused to acknowledge God.” What they fail to mention is that Greece, the EU country facing the most severe financial problems, like other European nations actually has an official state church.
Cindy Jacobs: 1962, when prayer was taken out of our schools by the Supreme Court, and in 1967 when Bible reading was taken out of our public schools, what happened? I mean in ’62 our biggest problem that we had in the United States was cutting in line, throwing spit wads.
Cindy Jacobs: Yeah, these were our problems, after we took the law of God out of our school, what happened? Teen suicide, rape, murder, assault, kids bringing guns to school, does it matter whether we pray? Absolutely it matters. Does it matter whether we read the Bible? Absolutely it matters. You know Mike when we were kids here in the state of Texas, we began our school with prayer and we prayed in the name of Jesus, I mean nobody was forced to do it, they didn’t have to do it, and then we read the Bible and nobody complained. It was amazing what happened in the nation, but when you take out God out of the house, God out of the schools, what happens is every evil thing comes in, there’s a void place.
Mike Jacobs: Remember the prophets were talking specifically about the European Union and that one of the curses that’s on them right now, one of the reasons they are enduring some of the financial, fiscal hardships right now, is they said when they were doing the founding documents, they refused to acknowledge God.
Rick Green of WallBuilders today appeared on Truth that Transforms with Carmen Pate and John Rabe where he claimed that the separation of church and state is the “exact opposite” of what the Founders wanted. He went on to claim that the separation of church and state is simply a tool to move the country “towards socialism and communism” and is responsible for increases in out-of-wedlock births and crime. Of course, this should come as no surprise as Green and WallBuilders president David Barton have made careers out of mischaracterizing church-state separation and blaming it for everything from a decline in SAT scores to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases.
Rabe: I think Rick if you ask most Americans today what the Constitution’s position is on the church they’ll throw out that phrase, ‘separation of church and state.’ That mantra is really, deeply embedded now but the picture that most people have is not exactly what the Founders meant by the First Amendment, is it?
Green: It is actually the exact opposite. Founders intended the First Amendment to restrict government, not restrict us, we the citizens it was actually intended to protect our freedom of religion, protect our opportunity to exercise that faith, whether that was in the public square or the private square, now we flip it on its head and we’ve used the First Amendment to actually restrict the individual. If you happen to step into the public square and sometimes even in the private square, government steps in and says ‘we’re not going to let you live out your faith.’ It’s exactly the opposite of what they intended and that only happens when we the people don’t know our history, don’t know where we came from, we don’t read the Constitution anymore, we don’t read the Founding Fathers, but I tell you there’s a lot of people now that are hungry to do that and they hear this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ and instead of just saying ‘oh yeah I guess that’s what the country was founded on’ they say ‘wait, wait, wait, where exactly in the Constitution is that’? People are starting to ask questions and I think that’s when you start turning this thing around.
Pate: They say when a lie is repeated often enough it becomes truth in the minds of the masses, it really causes us to stop and think, what has fueled the perpetuation of this myth?
Green: It’s a desire to get God out of the equation. At the heart of this entire debate, we’re right back to that question of whether as Rabbi [Daniel] Lapin says we’re going to be a Nimrod society or an Abraham society, will the church and God be the center of our culture and our nation or will government be the center? You cannot go towards socialism without moving away from God, you got to get God out of the equation to do that. Throughout history, anyone that has wanted a nation to move towards socialism and communism in that direction, has had to push God out of the equation first. So separation of church and state has been distorted.
Green: When you think about fifty years of this myth of separation of church and state and the impact on our culture it has been huge, it has had a dramatic impact on not only our children and school but you can look at any statistical graph on whether you want to look at crime, out-of-wedlock birth I mean you look at all of it, removing God from the equation from this supposed phrase ‘separation of church and state’ has had a devastating impact on our culture.
It’s not exactly a surprise when the American Family Association, home of the consistently unhinged Bryan Fischer, uses over-the-top rhetoric in its attacks on President Obama. Still, the latest fundraising letter from AFA President Tim Wildmon is memorably apocalyptic in tone:
In a very real way the year 2012 is as important to our nation as was the year 1776.
Just as then, this year Americans must choose between freedom and tyranny.
Wildmon goes on to call the administration’s recent regulations on insurance coverage of contraception “but the latest instance of the Obama Administration’s all-out war on Christians.”
Wildmon cites "the choice God put before the Israelites before He would allow them to enter into the Promised Land" and says
I believe God is asking America to make that same choice now:
Life and good … or death and evil.
Wildmon suggests Obama’s re-election would bring God’s wrath on America:
…everyone here at AFA is convinced that the elections this November will determine whether or not America will survive as a nation. After all, God has been long-suffering with us for decades now. How long will his patience last?
But, he says, if tens of millions of Christians register and vote for men and women who “respect our Christian heritage, will fight to protect religious freedom, and will work to build America’s crumbing moral foundation,” then
We can literally save America! As a nation we can stand before Almighty God and tell Him:
We love You, Lord! As a people, we will walk in Your ways and keep Your commandments!
The response card accompanying the letter seeks donation to “help elect godly leaders and to restore America to a nation that honors the one, true God.”
During his sermon “Holding our Ground,” Matthew Hagee, son of right-wing televangelist John Hagee, blamed social and governmental ills in America on the Church having “surrendered” itself to secular culture, gay rights, public schools and government “socialism.” Hagee called for a new “generation of believers” who won’t believe “the deception of separation of church and state” and instead fight the “redefinition of the family.” Following in the footsteps of his father who has maintained that God “sent” the AIDS virus, Hagee argued that the Church doesn’t need a compassionate view of people with AIDS since “most of the time it’s a choice” and the “the Bible says that He cured all of our diseases and He by his stripes has healed every one of his children.”
In many cases we surrendered our children to the doctrine of secular humanism as we’ve sent them to a school system which teaches them that God does not exist. We’ve surrendered our resources into a system of socialism that will take your money and use it to abort unwanted children and subsidize people who refuse to work. We’ve surrendered our voice in believing the deception of separation of church and state and allowed a dysfunctional government to silence the redeemed of the Lord that God has declared should say so. The problem is this: we’re not holding our ground, we’re giving up ground.
It is my prayer that this generation of believers be marked as the generation that chose not to give up one more inch of ground. To be believers to be willing to take a stand, to draw a line and say no more: there will be no more redefinition of the family, the family is one man married to one woman and those two people living in honor to God their Father, there will be no more.
The time has come for us to start answering questions in straightforward answers. People say, ‘well what’s the church’s position on AIDS’? AIDS is an incurable disease according to medical science but the Bible says that He cured all of our diseases and He by his stripes has healed every one of his children. Here’s the truth about diseases like AIDS, there are people who do contact this dreaded disease by some form of innocent contact, but most of the time it’s a choice. You know what the church’s position is and should be on AIDS: thou shalt not commit adultery. You start living that way and the AIDS problem in America will go down.
On Monday, Janet Parshall hosted David Barton to use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an opportunity for Barton to spew his right-wing reading of U.S. history and the Constitution. While Barton does not have degrees in history or law, he claimed that the theory of evolution was responsible for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Everson v. Board of Education, which found that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause applies to the states because it was incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment — because it led to legal positivism.
Barton: This may sound weird but it was the theory of evolution, we think it’s a science debate it is not, if you apply the theory of evolution to law you say, ‘wait a minute we can’t be bound by a two hundred year old document, we’ve evolved past that, what we need to have is an evolving document that meets the needs of society today and who best to evolve the document but judges, they’re the ones who deal with the law,’ so we got into this thing of what’s called legal positivism or evolutionary law, living constitution, and we started teaching that in the law schools in the 1920s. Take kids in the law schools in the 20s and, get this, they’re now in legal practice in the ’30s and now in the ’40s they’re adults with twenty years under their belt and they get appointed to the US Supreme Court and so in ’47 they simply implemented what they’ve been taught in law school twenty-five years earlier.
We have been reporting on last week’s Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C. where the Family Research Council teamed up with “Apostle” Cindy Jacobs to launch a prayer campaign designed to influence the 2012 elections.
The event was vivid evidence of the Religious Right’s willingness to embrace the radical dominionists of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The Family Research Council is probably the most prominent political group on the Religious Right; its Values Voter Summit attracts Republican presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and other officials. FRC is teaming up with proponents of politics as spiritual warfare against demons who control Washington, D.C. and other cities. FRC and NAR leaders have common political goals (defeating President Obama, opposing LGBT equality, etc.) and a shared disdain for the separation of church and state.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins didn’t show, but the group’s chaplain and national prayer director Pierre Bynum represented FRC, asking for “miracles” during the election year prayer project and “joy” in November. Bynum recounted God’s instructions to Moses, through his father-in-law, regarding the kind of men he should select as leaders (men who are capable, who fear God, who love truth, and who hate dishonest gain). Then Bynum spoke wistfully about a time when he says there was a clear religious test for public office -- something explicitly forbidden in the Constitution.
…used to be you couldn’t hold public office in America unless you believed in Jesus Christ, and also believed not only in Jesus Christ but in a future destiny of rewards and punishment for people – you had to believe in a heaven and a hell to be elected for public office in the United States.
But Bynum, and Cindy Jacobs herself, were just the warm-up crew for “teaching apostle” Dutch Sheets, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation. Sheets’s keynote was part lecture and part battle cry, structured around what he portrayed as two aspects of the church – the oikos – which represents the church as family – and the ekklesia, which he says is the church as legislative body, as God’s government on earth. His thesis is that the American church is too caught up in pastoral care and taking care of individuals and congregations – the oikos – and not nearly concerned enough with their responsibility to legislate, govern, and manage the earth in partnership with god.
Sheets blames that on Satan, who stole from people the concept of being an ekklesia , a “nation-discipling, ambassadorial, earth-stewarding extension of his kingdom.” Satan, it turns out, also had some help from King James, sponsor of the beloved 1611 English translation of the Bible. Sheets says King James was uncomfortable with people thinking of themselves as a government (“kind of like our government that is trying to sell us separation of church and state”) and so he instructed his translators to use the word “church” when translating ekklesia.
Sheets is out to change the emphasis on the "family" side of church. He says he’s looking for soldiers and warriors who understand the commission in Matthew 28 to disciple the nations as a grant of authority to be partners with God. “Disciple, rule, manage the earth. Make it look like heaven.” This is not a new concept, he says, but “a renewing of the Genesis mandate to manage our home -- and make this part of the kingdom look and think like the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, Sheets said, the earth itself is “groaning” for the sons of God to exercise their proper dominion and authority, saying that if they don’t, it doesn’t rain when it’s supposed to rain and crops don’t produce.
He was not implying “that we’re going to take over everything and rule the earth completely for the Lord,” he said. “But we’re supposed to try. It is our commission….There’s no insinuation here that we’re going to take over everything, but our assignment until he comes, is to bring his kingdom rule into the earth so that our region looks like heaven again.” According to Sheets, the church as ekklesia was meant to “divide and conquer” and, pointing to Harry Jackson in the front row, said, “it gets a little divisive when you try to rise up and save marriage, doesn’t it?”
Sheets repeatedly mocked “little sheepies” – people focused on the caring and pastoral work of the church (while insisting he wasn’t demeaning that work) – and called for warriors, saying “I’m trying to raise up an army!” In his final prayer, he denounced as lazy, self-centered, narcissistic sheep those Christians who don’t register to vote because they don’t want to serve on jury duty, and asked God to “raise up kingdom warriors that are ready to do whatever it takes to bring forth your kingdom rule in the earth.”
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Robert Jeffress, a prominent endorser of Rick Perry, is not happy about the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. In fact, Jeffress warns in a sermon posted online today, the religious protections of the First Amendment will “kindle the anger of God against us”:
Although our Constitution grants every citizen the right to worship or not worship any god he chooses, that right in no way changes God’s attitude toward idolatry. God does not change. Any nation that chooses to publicly renounce the true God in order to embrace and elevate other gods is going to face God’s judgment. That is what the Word of God says. And I closed that editorial in the Washington Post by saying, how ironic that the Air Force, which is trying to protect our nation against terrorist attacks, how ironic that our nation is doing the very thing that is guaranteed to kindle the anger of God against us.
And ladies and gentlemen, when God chooses to judge us, remember how he did it with Israel? He used a pagan nation that worshipped pagan gods to bring his punishment on Israel. And I believe he will do the same with us, and when he chooses to do that, no military power, no matter how strong we are, will be able to protect us against the judgment of Almighty God.
Jeffress refers to the Air Force's facilitaton of worship by members of minority faiths. Like Jeffress, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) has ripped into the Air Force for its equal treatment of religious minorities and televangelist John Hagee has claimed that pagan worship in the military is the reason why the U.S. is unable to win wars.
Jeffress sums up the Almighty’s beef with the First Amendment thus: “What we call diversity, God calls idolatry”:
Earlier in the sermon, Jeffress claimed that a school shooting in Kentucky was divine retribution for a series of Supreme Court decisions on prayer in public schools.
In a sermon posted yesterday, Jeffress argued that three key Supreme Court decisions on the separation of church and state have “so weakened our nation’s spiritual and social structure that collapse is inevitable.” He singles out the Court’s 1980 decision in Stone v. Graham, which struck down Kentucky’s law requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted in all public school classrooms. This decision, Jeffress argues, led directly to a tragic 1997 shooting spree in a Kentucky high school by a 14-year-old student who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“Is that just a coincidence?” Jeffress asks. “I don’t think so. God warned Israel repeatedly of the devastating consequences she would experience if she forsook God and forgot his commandments.”
The prohibition against prayer, the prohibition against voluntary reading of the Bible, were only preambles to the most outlandish Supreme Court decision to date. For years, the public schools in Kentucky had posted copies of the Ten Commandments in the hallway. Understand, there was no obligation for the students to read the Ten Commandments, there was no explanation, no teaching of it in the schools. The Ten Commandments were simply displayed in the hallways, commandments like, “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not covet,” “Thou shalt not steal.” That was what was posted. However, in 1980, in the case of Stone v. Graham, the Supreme Court ruled that the posting of the Ten Commandments was unconstitutional.
In a tragic twist of irony, 17 years after the Stone decision in 1980, a group of students had assembled together at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, as they did every morning for a time of prayer and Bible reading. As these students stood around a set of lockers and they were engaging in prayer, a 14-year-old student approached them, pulled out a handgun and opened fire, killing three of the students and seriously wounding five. All of that occurred in the hallway of a Kentucky school where the Supreme Court said, “You cannot post the words, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’” Is that just a coincidence? I don’t think so. God warned Israel repeatedly of the devastating consequences she would experience if she forsook God and forgot his commandments.
As Kyle and Brian have reported, the Family Research Council is teaming up with "apostle" Cindy Jacobs' Generals International in a major push to influence the 2012 elections. In Washington, DC, last night, the FRC, Jacobs and other “apostles” affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation launched “Fast Forward,” a year-long “prayer and action” campaign designed to influence the GOP caucuses and primaries as well as the November presidential election. The launch event, “A Gathering of Eagles,” was held at a Baptist church in northwest Washington. It featured plenty of prophecy and lots of rhetoric about the 2012 elections as war – a spiritual battleground against demons, marriage equality, and the Obama administration.
We are sorting through video and will be posting highlights and analysis over the next couple of days, but the entire three-plus hours should be required viewing for any reporter or pundit who has downplayed the goals or influence of Christian dominionists in American politics.Jacobs said the Lord had told her that 2012 is the “do or die” year for bringing America back to a “biblical worldview.”She “decreed” that separation of church and state would be pulled down.Jacobs was joined by the Family Research Council’s Pierre Bynum, who spoke wistfully about a time in America when you couldn’t hold public office without believing in Jesus Christ, heaven, and hell.
It featured Jacobs and others demanding that angels deliver Bishop Harry Jackson the half-million dollars he said he needs to defeat marriage equality in Maryland.But the evening was dominated by Dutch Sheets, another NAR apostle, whose presentation focused on the need for Christians to get away from a sheep-like focus on pastoral care, and start becoming an army of warriors prepared to take their rightful dominion and rule the earthly part of God’s kingdom.
Family Research Center president Tony Perkins joined James Robison on Life Today to discuss the dire consequences of the separation of Church and State that has allowed the “unrighteous” to rule. Perkins and Robison, who was Mike Huckabee’s mentor and recently addressed FRC’s Watchmen on the Wall summit, both agreed that God will judge America for not voting for politicians aligned with the Religious Right.