Islamophobia

PFAW, CODEPINK and Allies Speak Out Against Trump

Donald Trump has established himself as the candidate of hatred and bigotry, and he's dragging the rest of the party along with him. Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric has become the norm in the GOP presidential debates, as Trump's policy proposals become more absurdly racist and xenophobic -- like a ban on allowing any Muslims to enter the United States.

In the face of this, the progressive movement is standing up for what's right. Over 30,000 PFAW members have already pledged to stand strongly against fascist policies that restrict our basic rights, like the ones Trump has built his campaign on. And our allies at CODEPINK are leading the #StopHateDumpTrump campaign, calling on Americans of all political affiliations to speak out in every way possible against political fear-mongering.

Together, we are pledging to take action in the face of hatred and bigotry that stand in stark contrast to our fundamental American values. 

PFAW

Republican Presidential Candidates: End Your Campaigns of Hate

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

It seems there's no end to the Republican presidential candidates' campaigns of hate. As showcased by last week's Republican debate, their deeply-troubling rhetoric on immigrants and Muslims has become a standard talking point. It's impossible to turn on the TV without hearing the newest iteration of the candidates' hateful stances.

Sitting through last week's debate was nothing short of painful. Donald Trump doubled down on his commitment to ban Muslims from entering the United States. All the candidates were united in their anti-refugee stances.

Of course, it's not just debates where the Republican candidates spew their xenophobia. Their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies are flooding the airwaves. The ad Donald Trump released recently is focused on banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and paints immigrants as a danger to national security. Trump's fellow Republican contenders have been mirroring his language. As Marco Rubio campaigns throughout the country, he's repeating the talking point he used in the last debate, that all immigrants and refugees pose a terrorist threat to America. He also has gone so far as to accuse President Obama, our Commander in Chief, of having "deliberately weakened America." Ted Cruz, for his part, is trying to out-Trump Trump. He too released a new TV ad that falsely portrays immigrants as taking jobs and draining the U.S. economy and he'sproposing not only that the US should not accept any Syrian refugees, but that we should expel refugees who are already here.

That's not the American way. As President Obama said at the State of the Union: "We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong."

It's time for the Republican candidates to end their campaigns of hate. The bigoted rhetoric and policy positions we're hearing from these candidates go against core American values. They don't merit discussion at the kitchen table, and they certainly don't merit discussion at a debate for those aspiring to the nation's highest office.

Sadly, I'm not holding my breath for Republicans to stop vilifying Muslims or immigrants.

As the Republican presidential candidates continue their attacks, it's critical that ordinary Americans stand up for the values we know are right. The message we heard from President Obama during the State of the Union, his call to embrace diversity and our history as a nation that welcomes immigrants and refugees, is rooted in our country's deepest principles, and no matter what happens in the GOP primary, that's the message we need to carry forward.

PFAW

Religious Right: Bible Dictates Laws & Economic Policy But Islam Not a Religion Because It Is A Political & Economic System

Donald Trump’s call to bar all Muslims from entering the country was widely recognized as an appeal for explicit religious discrimination and generated significant pushback.  But many of Trump’s right-wing defenders have turned to an argument that has long bounced around Religious Right circles: that Muslims are not entitled to the religious liberty protections of the First Amendment because Islam is somehow not a religion. A few years ago, for example, retired Lt. Gen Jerry Boykin called Islam “a totalitarian way of life” that “should not be protected under the First Amendment.”

At this week’s Republican presidential debate, Rick Santorum explained why he believes Islam is not protected under the First Amendment, an argument made repeatedly by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Here’s Santorum:

The fact of the matter is, Islam is different. I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of people, and I mean this sincerely. Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, it is also a civil government, it is also a form of government. And, so, the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong.

Conservative columnist and radio host Andrew McCarthy has similarly defended Trump’s comments, saying that Islam is not merely a religion because it “has ambitions to be more than a religion, that is to say that it is an ideological, sweeping system that does not recognize a division between spiritual life on the one hand and political and civic life on the other.”

Back in September, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins defended similar comments by Ben Carson:

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Caron pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

More recently, Perkins defended Trump with a dubiously specific statistic, saying that “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic and political system.” Televangelist Pat Robertson also said this month that people should not view Islam as a religion but rather a “political system masquerading as a religion.”

Wait a minute. Aren’t these the same people who repeatedly insist that the Bible is the final authority on everything, from laws regulating personal relationships to economic and tax policy, and environmental protection? Anti-marriage-equality activists have insisted that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was in violation of “God’s law” and therefore “illegitimate.” 

David Barton, an oft-discredited “historian” and Republican Party activist who is currently heading up a Ted Cruz super PAC, argues that the Bible opposes minimum wage laws, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, any progressive form of taxation and even net neutrality. He says the Constitution came right out of the Bible. If you applied Tony Perkins’ calculations to David Barton’s Bible, what percentage would come up as religion?

Many Religious Right leaders have embraced Seven Mountains dominionism, which is grounded in the belief that the right kind of Bible-believing Christians are meant to control all the important spheres of culture, including government, business, education, and entertainment. For example, the American Pastors Network’s Sam Rohrer says this:

Government leaders are charged with wielding the Word of God as an instrument of Justice, promoting God’s moral law as the foundation of right and wrong, encouraging those who do well biblically, and executing judgment on those who break the law.

Along those lines, three Republican presidential candidates, including current Iowa frontrunner Ted Cruz, recently joined a “religious freedom” rally organized by a pastor who argues that the Bible requires the government to execute gay people.

And don’t forget David Lane, whose American Renewal Project is mobilizing conservative pastors to get more involved in politics — and who argues that America was founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and that the Bible should be a primary textbook in public schools.

So, a thought for Religious Right leaders: If you are going to argue for stripping Muslims of their First Amendment religious liberty protections based on your interpretation of Islam as an enterprise that is more political and ideological than religious, you may have to trim your own political sails quite a bit. Either that, or quit pretending you are proponents of religious freedom, and admit that you, like Bryan Fischer, believe the First Amendment applies only to Christians, or, like Tony Perkins, that gay-supporting Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections because a “true religious freedom” has to “come forth from religious orthodoxy.” Just don’t try to pretend your definition of “religious freedom” owes anything to Thomas Jefferson or the First Amendment. 

Republicans Created Trump; They Must Stand Up To Him

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Donald Trump made one of the most stunning political statements in recent memory yesterday when he called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." 

Campaign spokespeople quickly clarified that Trump was referring not only to a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants, but also to preventing Muslims from coming to the U.S. as tourists and possibly even preventing American citizens who are traveling or living abroad from returning home. (He generously made an exception for Muslim members of the military.)

Trump continues to be the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary. It's time for party officials to reckon with what they have created.

Trump is the product of a party that has for decades thrived on stirring up fears of a scary "other" -- from the Southern Strategy to Willie Horton to the persistent rumors that President Obama is a secret Muslim or Kenyan or both. The Republican establishment has for years tolerated its candidates rubbing shoulders with the most extreme elements of its base, whether it's the white nationalists who have spoken at CPAC or the parade of extremists at each year's Values Voter Summit. 

But there are certain things leading Republicans have largely been careful not to say out loud. Until now.

Trump, building off the Right's campaign to paint undocumented immigrants as dangerous invaders, launched his campaign by announcing that Mexican immigrants were rapists, drug dealers and other criminals. Then, when the news cycle shifted, he shifted his bigotry. He has spent the last several weeks repeating the objectively untrue claim that "thousands and thousands" of Muslim Americans in New Jersey took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks. He suggested shutting down some mosques and refused to rule out the possibility of a national database of American Muslims

Trump's relentless stream of bigotry isn't turning away the far-right base of the GOP. Instead, he remains at the top of Republican presidential polls. 

It's not enough for Trump's rivals and the party's leadership to say they disagree with his absurd plan to bar Muslims from the country. They must reckon with what their party has become and, if they don't like it, speak out forcefully on behalf of the American values of freedom, liberty and pluralism. It's not enough for them to reject one outrageous plan. They must speak out against bigotry and prejudice. And they must make clear that even if Trump were to become the party's nominee, he would be on his own.

The Republican Party created Trump. Now it's time for them to take responsibility and, if they don't like what Trump is saying, take a strong stand for what is right.

PFAW

CBN's David Brody Urges Trump To Go All In With Attack On Islam, Quran

We have been critical of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody for his fawning coverage of right-wing political figures and for acting as publicity agent for Christian-nation activist David Lane.  Turns out Brody was just warming up.

Yesterday, CBN's David Brody tweeted his admiration for Donald Trump’s “bravery” — later amended to “guts” and “moxie” — for arguing that the U.S. should stop all Muslims from entering  the country. And today, Brody takes his Trump promotion to a whole new level, setting aside his battered “journalism” hat and offering Trump advice on campaign strategy.

Brody taking a turn as a Trump political operative is less surprising than the content of his advice. Brody suggests — actually it’s more like pleading — that Trump turn his political campaign into a theological attack on Islam and its Holy Scripture, saying that “if Trump is going to come out with a statement like he did about all Muslims, then he might as well go for the whole enchilada, which is explaining the underlying theological problems with Islam and the Quran.”

Brody says Trump has “a real opening” to show leadership and “shed light in this area” the way he has on immigration.

And when it comes to evangelicals, Trump has a real opportunity here to thoughtfully delve into the taboo issues of what is in the Quran: that is, Sharia Law and Jihad. But it can’t be just shock value on stage. It can't be just for huge applause lines. To resonate with evangelicals, it will have to be deeper than that. He can forge a deeper connection with evangelicals if he’ll have the courage to be a truth-teller on the core issue, which lies in the teachings of the Quran. If he makes it about just banning Muslims into America then that is shortsighted and he will lose politically. But if he turns this into a movement to get Islamic leaders to denounce Sharia and Jihad (concepts that are in their own book) and moves the ball down the field in that regard, then he’ll resonate with evangelicals on this issue.

But Brody makes it clear that Muslims are not the real audience:

I'm not saying Islamic leaders will be listening to Trump on this because of his past statements but evangelicals are listening and they want to hear the unvarnished truth about the concerns regarding Islam spoken without a filter. Trump has no problem speaking without a filter, that's for sure.

The separation of church and state, which protects religious liberty in America, has taken plenty of hits from the Religious Right in recent decades. And we already know that Trump cares nothing for respectful pluralism or public discourse. That may be why it seems so shocking that Brody is urging Trump to ramp up his already rank religious bigotry. Brody’s call to turn our already divisive political climate into an explicit Holy War is an idea whose awful, terrible, badness cannot be overstated.

PFAW Statement on Trump’s Proposed Muslim Immigration Ban

WASHINGTON – Yesterday GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” after previously saying the country should consider closing mosques and establishing a database to track Muslims in the U.S.

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“Trump’s reckless anti-Muslim bigotry has reached a new low. Shutting out a whole group of people because of their religion sounds a lot more like fascism than like a legitimate policy proposal. It’s despicable, and it’s the opposite of what our country’s values are all about.

“And it’s not just Trump. From Ben Carson’s remarks that he would not support a Muslim president to Ted Cruz’s proposal to welcome Christian refugees – but not Muslim refugees – fleeing violence in Syria, GOP presidential candidates seem increasingly comfortable with overt anti-Muslim sentiment.

“People of all religious backgrounds deserve to feel safe and welcome in our country, one that was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Instead, what we’re seeing so far this election is a GOP field fighting to prove they are the most anti-Muslim candidate. Even for the Tea Party driven GOP, it’s disgraceful and dangerous.”

People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch monitors and documents the activities of the right-wing movement. For coverage of Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric and the ongoing work of right-wing anti-Muslim organizations, please visit www.rightwingwatch.org.

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Muslim Student Arrested For Making A Clock Lives In Hotbed Of Sharia Panic

Earlier this week, 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed of Irving, Texas, brought a digital clock he made from a pencil case to his school. He brought the clock to show off to his teachers, but instead of receiving encouragement, Mohamed’s school day ended in handcuffs and with the threat of being charged with making a “hoax bomb.” While many have condemned the actions of the school officials and law enforcement, Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne has come out in defense of the decision to arrest the teenage boy.

In a Facebook post today, Van Duyne wrote, “I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat. . . We have all seen terrible and violent acts committed in schools, the workplace, and in public venues. Perhaps some of those could have been prevented and lives could have been spared if people were more vigilant. I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.” The mayor later edited her post to remove the latter three sentences and replaced them with a message encouraging Mohamed to not be dissuaded from pursuing engineering dreams.

Van Duyne came under fire earlier this year after she publicly condemned a rumored “Islamic Sharia court” in Irving. Van Duyne claimed the non-existent Sharia court was set up by Muslims trying to gain a foothold in America to “bypass” American courts. In another Facebook post, Van Duyne wrote, “I am working with our State Representatives on legislation to clarify and strengthen existing prohibitions on the application of foreign law in violation of constitutional or statutory rights. . . Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own.” The “court” that Van Duyne referred to is, in reality, simply a dispute resolution process, similar to systems set up by Christians and Jews, and does not attempt to take precedent over the law.

Nonetheless, in a move backed by Glenn Beck and Frank Gaffney, Van Duyne convinced the Irving City Council to support legislation to ban the nonexistent problem of Sharia law in Texas. Zia Sheikh, imam at the Islamic Center of Irving, asserted that the mayor’s statements fueled “anti-Islamic hysteria.” This hysteria has found a home in the Republican Party, where presidential candidates like Ted Cruz insist that Sharia law is making inroads in the U.S. and failed U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle said that the city of Frankford, Texas, is under the thumb of Sharia. (As CNN pointed out, Dallas annexed Frankford back in 1975 and “all that remains is a church and cemetery,” not exactly a hotbed of Islamic radicalism.)

While the Texas bill did not pass, the recent incident involving Mohamed proves that anti-Muslim panic encouraged by people like Van Duyne still thrives in Irving.

Pamela Geller Is Not a Hero, But...

This piece was originally published in The Huffington Post.

I am grateful to live in a country where even someone as hateful as Pamela Geller can speak her mind. She can smear President Obama as the "jihadist in the White House" and speculate that he "choked up" with tears when he ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden. She can say that Pope Francis' call for "affection and respect" towards Muslims means he has "become an imam." She can compare Jewish Americans who support President Obama to Nazi appeasers and call comedian Jon Stewart "the most disgusting Jew on the planet." She can suggest banning Muslims from becoming airline pilots. She can then claim that anyone who doesn't want to hear her speak is "enforcing the Sharia."

I am also grateful to live in a country where the law protects Geller's right to say these things.

Sunday's incident, in which two gunmen tried to attack an anti-Islam event that Geller and virulently anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders hosted in Texas, was deeply troubling. Our freedom of speech means nothing if people are too afraid to speak. We saw this in a different context earlier this year when Sony pulled a raunchy geopolitical buddy comedy from theaters under threat of terror attacks. Say what you will about Pamela Geller, she has not backed down from any of her vile positions under fear of violence.

But it's important to remember that the fact that she was attacked for her speech doesn't make Geller a hero, or her speech any less hateful. As Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall put it yesterday, "a hate group is a hate group the day after someone takes a shot at them just like it was the day before."

Local Muslim groups had the right idea when they stayed away from Geller's event,declining to protest so that they wouldn't give Geller the attention she so desperately wanted. Those who expose her hateful rhetoric -- like my PFAW colleagues -- also do important work, making sure the public knows that just because she is targeted by violent idiots doesn't make her a serious thinker or a hero.

I know that Geller won't back down from her hateful rhetoric after this event-- in fact, the attempted attack will probably embolden her and cause some to take her more seriously. And we shouldn't stop criticizing Geller -- or, as she puts it, "enforcing the Sharia" -- when she's wrong.

As People For the American Way wrote in 2009 in response to a renewed spate of inflammatory right-wing rhetoric, Americans must "be willing to use their First Amendment freedoms to challenge those who exploit their political positions or media megaphones to promote lies that are intended to inflame rather than inform, that encourage paranoia rather than participation, and whose consequences are at best divisive and at worst, violently destructive."

PFAW

Ted Cruz's Weekend Plans: Puppy Bombs, Islamophobia, Junk History & Glenn Beck

Sen. Ted Cruz has a busy weekend planned. Not only is he confirmed to headline a Texas conference for state legislators hosted by fake historian David Barton, he is also confirmed to speak at a conference of anti-Muslim activists and right-wing muckrakers in Florida hosted by leading Islamophobe David Horowitz .

Warren Throckmorton reports that Cruz is scheduled to speak at David Barton’s “ProFamily Legislators Conference” along with effusive conspiracy thoerist Glenn Beck, master voter suppressor and now Family Research Council bigwig Ken Blackwell, FRC vice president and radical anti-Islam activist General Jerry Boykin, and anti-gay, anti-Islam activist Rabbi Daniel Lapin. But perhaps the most questions for Cruz should come around accepting an invitation from Barton, who routinely pushes junk science and history and who just this week found himself in hot water among conservatives for telling veterans that it’s unbiblical to have PTSD.

Cruz is also set to join Rep. Louie Gohmert at “David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend,” along with Horowitz’s fellow anti-Islam activists Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Erick Stakelbeck and Daniel Pipes; right-wing pundits Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro; “voter fraud” truther Catherine Engelbrecht ; erstwhile Christian Coalition leader and Jack Abramoff pal Ralph Reed; prankster/martyr James O’Keefe; and rising right-wing star Dr. Ben Carson.

Previous “restoration weekends” have similarly allowed sitting members of Congress – including Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michelle Bachmann -- to mingle with anti-Islam leaders inluding Geert Wilders, Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy and Pastor John Hagee.

While Horowitz’s summit includes a wide variety of far-right activists, its real star power comes from its Islamophobe coalition.

Horowitz himself has built his career on tying American progressives and mainstream Muslims to radical Islam. He's the editor of FrontPage magazine and has reportedly funded Robert Spencer's JihadWatch website. Horowitz was a leader of the smear campaign against former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who anti-Islam activists accused of being a Muslim Brotherhood agent sent to "penetrate" the US government . Horowitz alleged that Abedin, who is married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, was a "Muslim Brotherhood operative" and "been given a special dispensation to marry a Jew so she can infiltrate our government.” He has also accused anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, whose wife is Muslim, of secretly practicing Islam and leading a Muslim Brotherhood "infiltration" of the Republican Party, and believes that teachers' unions are pushing an “infiltration of Islamic Jihadist doctrines” in the public schools.

Geller is also one of the most vocal figures on the anti-Muslim right. It was Geller who dreamed up and drove the "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy in the summer of 2010. Like Horowitz, Geller sees Islamist infiltration wherever she looks, including theWhite House, public schools, the media, and even the Conservative Political Action Committee (thanks, of course to Norquist). Geller frequently suggests that President Obama is secretly Muslim and has even theorized that the president is the love child of Malcolm X.

Geller even attempted to justify Anders Breivik’s massacre at a Norwegian summer camp (which she initially, of course, blamed on Muslims), writing that the victims would have become “future leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole.” Breivik had extensively cited Geller’s work in his anti-Islam manifesto.

Spencer is another one of the anti-Muslim movement’s leading lights, and also sees sneaking radical Islam in in the “Sharia-compliant” CPAC , the Obama administration,the media, TLC reality shows and progressives, whom he argues are “in league with Islamic supremacists” because of their shared dislike of America and western civilization.

To give you an idea of just how willing Spencer and Geller are to run with any anti-Muslim conspiracy theory, no matter how ridiculous, this month both gleefully picked up a story from New York’s local CBS station that alleged that members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were dipping puppies in gasoline and lighting them on fire in order to make puppy bombs. CBS quickly retracted the story, which was sourced to a Facebook message. But the story so perfectly fit Geller and Spencer’s hysterical anti-Muslim narrative that neither has updated their blog post.

We hope that Cruz at least won’t fall for the puppy bombs story. It’s sad enough to ruin what could have been great weekend.

Ted Cruz, Archbishop Lori Will Address FRC's 'Watchmen' Pastors

The Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference is an annual gathering for pastors and other church leaders to hear from a panoply of right-wing speakers and get motivated to “transform America.” Our coverage of last year’s event highlights speakers’ attacks on evolution, secularism, Islam, LGBT people, and other tools of Satan.

This year’s conference, which takes place in Washington DC May 22-24, has been promoted by FRC for months.  In April, FRC sent an excited alert that Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party and Religious Right favorite who is reportedly mulling a 2016 presidential bid, had confirmed.

Based on other confirmed speakers, it seems likely that there will be two major themes to this year’s gathering: 1) religious liberty in America is under attack by Obama and his gay allies; and 2) only the church – led by uncompromising fired up pastors – can save freedom and America.

A notable addition to the cast of conservative evangelicals is William Lori, Archbishop of the Diocese of Baltimore and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. Lori has led the bishops’ attack on the Obama administration’s proposed regulations requiring insurance coverage of contraception.  Lori, who believes that “aggressive secularity” is “becoming the established ‘religion’ in our country today,” will be right at home with his friends at the Family Research Council. A typical FRC Action mailing from Tony Perkins earlier this year said President Obama is out to “crush freedom.” The same letter warns about “death panels” under Obamacare, which Perkins calls “the tip of the tyranny-iceberg.”

Also entertaining the Watchmen will be Rep. James Lankford, who earlier this year blamed gun violence on “welfare moms” overmedicating their kids with psychiatric drugs because they “want to get additional benefits.”  At FRC’s Values Voter Summit in September, Lankford said of the dispute over contraception coverage, “this is not a war on women, this is a war on people of faith.” 

Also confirmed is Ergun Caner, who lost his position at Liberty University after Muslim and Christian bloggers, and then journalists, began to expose the falsehoods in the Jihadi-to-Jesus life story that Caner had used to make a name for himself in the post-9/11 evangelical universe. Caner will probably echo his remarks at the 2009 Values Voter Summit, where his message to Christians who were not being outspoken enough on the issues of the day: “You need to preach, teach, and reach, or just shut up and get out of our way.”

Anti-gay activist Harry Jackson is quick to invoke Satan and other demonic powers as the forces behind the gay rights movement, which he portrays as an enemy of religious freedom. He has charged that a “radical” gay element is trying to “close down every church in America.” In fact, one of his columns was titled,” Why do Gays Hate Religious Freedom?”  Jackson’s apocalyptic anti-Obama rhetoric did not convince many Black Christians to vote against Obama, but Jackson thinks they’ll be sorry. God, he says, will “take out” those who chose “race over grace.” Jackson is a long-time FRC ally; he and Perkins co-authored Personal Faith, Public Policy, which calls Supreme Court rulings on church-state issues “assaults” on Christianity.

Jim Garlow, a California pastor who led church backing for Prop 8 in California and was then tapped by Newt Gingrich to run one of his political groups, had warned before the election that an Obama reelection would destroy the country.  During an FRC post-election special Garlow said that Christians should expect massive persecution from the government.  At last year’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, Garlow spoke at a press conference attacking President Obama’s use of religious language to describe his support for marriage equality. Evoking the words of a colonial preacher, Garlow said, “if necessary, here we die.” In an FRC DVD promoting Watchmen on the Wall, Garlow says an FRC-produced video was crucial to the Prop 8 win.

Richard Land is retiring in October after 25 years as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty commission; he was dogged by controversy during the past year over plagiarism charges and racially inflammatory remarks he made regarding the Trayvon Martin killing.  Land has charged that the only reason the Obama administration proposed regulations on contraception coverage was to "set the precedent of ramming this down our throats and forcing us to surrender our First amendment freedom of religion." Land says God will unleash judgment on America for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Watchmen will also hear from Jacob Aranza, whose 1983 book Backward Masking Unmasked warned that rock music was encoded with satanic messages that would entice teens into drug use and abnormal sexual behavior. Aranza says he burned “hundreds of thousands” of albums in those days. More recently, Aranza was an endorser of Rick Perry’s “Awakening” and participated in Religious Right strategy sessions convened by James Robison to try to prevent Obama’s re-election. In 2011, Aranza and Perkins appeared together on Robison’s television show, and Aranza gushed about Perkin’s work to mobilize pastors:

Tony Perkins is one of the great heroes in America today. He is a hero because it is unseen. He is uniting and equipping the most important people in America, and that's the pastors in America. If the local church is the hope of the world then pastors are the hope of the local church. Tony Perkins exists to encourage them and to equip them and to empower them. He's taking regular pastors -- the average church in America, James, as you know is less than 200 people; 80% of the churches in America are 200 or less -- and he is taking men like that and he is turning them into absolute heroes, just like pastors in Maine who are literally changing the moral fiber of an entire state because he has equipped them and empowered them and told them they're the people that are supposed to be the hedge of builders, and he is encouraging them to do just that.…I believe that as you speak you are literally trumpeting a sound that is encouraging pastors across America and families across America that are Christians to unite together to see God once again bring spiritual awakening to our nation.

JC Church is one of FRC’s pastor leaders “networking churches in Ohio to answer the call on moral issues.”  His 3 Cord Alliance, which is affiliated with FRC, teaches pastors “how to bring sound scripturally based influence and change to your community.” Church has been praised by Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values: “I believe that if all the pastors in Ohio were like Pastor Church, we would have an army that Satan could not stop. He understands that America is led by the pulpit and we count on him to unite fellow pastors and their congregations to be the salt and light we so desperately need in the world today.”

Jack Hibbs is a California-based preacher who also pushed Prop 8; in 2011 he helped lead an unsuccessful effort to overturn the state’s SB 48, which he charged would lead to public schools indoctrinating students.  In a video urging pastors to get involved, he said it is not enough to teach and preach the word of God, pastors needed to be “culture changers for Christ.” Leading into the 2012 election Hibbs was outspoken about the fact that Christians should vote for Romney over Obama. In a radio show the day after the 2012 elections, He says he was on the phone with Tony Perkins on election night and they had both believed that the outcome was up to the church: “The answer wouldn’t be determined in the White House or the statehouse….the answer for righteousness or unrighteousness, for light or for darkness, for liberty or tyranny, would be decided by the pastors.” Given the way things turned out, Hibbs says “I believe the responsibility, the outcome, and the fallout falls into the hands of the pulpits of America’s pastors who did not speak up….” Hibbs also echoes Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks: “those who are looking for handouts, they don’t want to work, they want the government to give things to them, overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama.” Hibbs said he was disappointed but not discouraged, because “God’s on the throne” and therefore “God has appointed him to be our president for God’s purposes – OK that means God has got some pretty gnarly purposes coming for America.”

There’s a special role at the conference for FRC’s executive vice president, retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin.  Boykin retired from the military after being reprimanded by then-President Bush for making speeches depicting the war on terrorism as a Christian holy war against Islam. FRC hired Boykin last year after he was disinvited from speaking at West Point after faculty and cadets objected.  Boykin and his Religious Right allies portrayed his mythical martyrdom as an attack on freedom of speech and religion. At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Boykin invoked Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler in denouncing what he said is an effort to move Americans away from belief in a sovereign God.  He says everything President Obama is doing is right out of the” Communist Manifesto.”

Perkins seems to be counting on Boykin to strong-arm pastors at the conference into making a concrete commitment to political activism. In an insert in a packet mailed to pastors, Perkins says Boykin will offer the “concluding challenge” – and he insists that pastors book their flights home no earlier than 4pm so that they can stay.  “During the Briefing, we will share details of the strategic plan the Lord is using to bring revival and renewal in communities around the nation through the engagement of pastors. At the end, we have a ‘call to decision’ or ‘invitation’ sort of like many of you do in a worship service. Just as you want those attending your worship service to stay and respond, we would respectfully ask the same of you.” Perkins has some leverage – FRC picks up most of the tab for one pastor from each church.

FRC launched Watchmen on the Wall in 2004. A 2010 promotional DVD said the group was up to 14,000 pastors; it said Perkins’ goal was to have 40,000 Watchmen pastors by 2015. Pastors who sign up get access to regular briefings, model sermons, and other toolkits for mobilizing their congregations and communities.  The same promotional video contains a clip of “historian” David Barton quoting 19th Century preacher Charles Finney saying, in effect, that if the country is going to hell, it’s pastors’ fault.  The notion that America can only be saved by more aggressive preachers is a recurring theme at Religious Right gatherings, including Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference.

Erik Rush Wasn't Joking When He Said Kill Muslims

Fox News contributor Erik Rush complains in his latest column at World Net Daily that he was only joking when he said that Muslims are evil and should be killed. But he manages to prove otherwise by closing the column with a justification for killing Muslims:

For the record, I still maintain that Islam is, by its nature, wholly incompatible with Western society. I analogize liberalism, which is promoting this dhimmitude, to Stage 3 cancer in America’s body politic. For the record: While killing people is definitely undesirable, that is what war tends to be about.

And we are at war – just study the history of Islam, or ask any Islamist.

You’ll recall that Rush had the following Twitter exchange with Bill Schmalfeldt on Monday in the immediate aftermath of the bombing:

We reported on the exchange, and it was quickly picked up by other media outlets. Rush accuses us and others of “leaving out the fact that it was sarcasm.” Rush claims that Bill’s “irate” tweet prompted his “sarcastic response,” and that “kill them all” was merely echoing Muslims’ “favored disposition toward Americans.”

Rush deleted the tweet later that day and rolled out his sarcasm defense, which numerous outlets uncritically parroted. We didn’t buy it then, and we certainly don’t buy it after reading Rush’s latest column.

Rush has a long track record of paranoid and hate-filled rhetoric. The “just kidding” defense doesn’t work when you’ve previously called for armed revolution against President Obama, said that liberals and journalists should be jailed for treason and claimed that the Chinese government is building a military base inside the US with help from Obama.

It’s clear that Rush supports the sentiment behind his “sarcastic” tweet. The onus was on him to prove otherwise. Not only has he failed to do so, he’s doubled down with a justification for killing Muslims.

Until now, Rush has enjoyed a close relationship with Fox News, and Sean Hannity in particular. A transcript search reveals that he’s appeared on Fox nearly 20 times and has made additional appearances on Fox News Radio, as recently as last Friday. Hannity’s website even features a review for Rush’s book, with the catchy name of Negrophilia.

Despite this close relationship, representatives of Fox News scrambled behind the scenes this week to distance the channel from Rush. If they don’t want their precious brand to be tainted by him, they need to cut ties with him entirely. We have a petition calling on Fox to do so, which has already been signed by more than 50,000 people.

Tell Fox News: Dump Hatemonger Erik Rush

A Fox News contributor went too far in the wake of the tragic violence at the Boston Marathon. Read more & tell Fox to dump Erik Rush.

Anti-Muslim Activists Apoplectic Over PFAW's Michele Bachmann Petition

On Monday, People For the American Way delivered a petition with 178,000 signatures to House Speaker John Boehner calling for the removal of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Bachmann, one of Congress’ leading purveyors of conspiracy theories, earned rebukes from Boehner and others last year when she accused several Muslim-American government employees, include top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, of being secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The petition, to put it mildly, hit a nerve among Bachmann’s allies in the anti-Muslim Right. FrontPageMag, an online outfit led by David Horowitz, has published a full three articles defending Bachmann and accusing PFAW of “smearing” the “vindicated” Bachmann by launching an “all-out war” on her.  In one article, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch argues, “If they really had any genuine concern for the American way, instead of calling for her removal from the Intelligence committee, the People for the American Way would be calling for Bachmann to be appointed to chair that committee.”

Yesterday, Horowitz launched his own petition, titled, ironically, “Stop the Witch Hunt Against Rep. Bachmann.”

Horowitz and Spencer aren’t the only ones coming to Bachmann’s defense. The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney, who was the source of the bulk of Bachmann’s accusations against Abedin, and conservative columnist Diana West discussed the petition on Wednesday’s edition of Secure Freedom Radio. People For the American Way, Gaffney suggested, is part of the “Red-Green Axis” and should be called instead “People For the Islamist Way”:

Gaffney: I wanted to turn to a woman who has probably understood this jihadist enterprise, most especially the civilization jihadist element of it, that is to say the so-called non-violent -- actually pre-violent form -- that we’ve talked about in the book that you contributed marvelously to, Sharia: The Threat to America, namely Michele Bachmann. She has been savaged now for almost a year for having actually raised an alarm about some of this. What’s going on with her at the moment and what should our listeners be thinking about it and doing?

West: Well, you have People For the American Way, a leftist advocacy group, actually putting together a petition asking to have Speaker John Boehner to remove Michele Bachmann from the House Intelligence Committee. Now this actually all ties in to what we were talking about already because FOX has also savaged Michele Bachmann, specifically going back to last summer when she and a few of her colleagues were raising questions about Muslim Brotherhood penetration into the United States government. Specifically, one of the cause celebre was the perhaps penetration, her question of the secretary of state’s office with her top aide being Huma Abedin, who we’ve spoken about before. And this is one of these…

Gaffney: Closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

West: Correct.

Gaffney: I think what we’re really getting at here is Michele Bachmann is being vilified for having exposed some of that influence operation, penetration problem and she should be, if anything, lauded for it, not taken to task by the Red-Green Axis, as they call it, doing business under the form of People For the Islamist Way.

American Who Sparked Libya, Egypt Unrest Hates Obama, Hearts the GOP

Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American anti-Muslim activist, managed in one week’s time to take an overlooked YouTube video featuring a lame attack on Islam and turn it into a flashpoint with violent extremists, with deadly consequences. As the New York Times reported last night, Sadek drew attention to the obscure video clip “in an Arabic-language blog post and an e-mail newsletter in English publicizing the latest publicity stunt of the Florida pastor Terry Jones, reviled in the Muslim world for burning copies of the Koran.” Within days the clip was making the rounds in Egypt, prompting denunciations from politicians and generating press coverage, and culminating in protests and a deadly attack in Libya.

Sadek, who has worked with Jones in the past, says he is fighting for the rights of his fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt. Unfortunately he seems much more focused on attacking Muslims than helping the Copts. Sadek pulled his Facebook profile around 1 pm today, but we were able to take a look beforehand. Here’s what we found.
 
Sadek is a supporter of ACT! for America, which believes that President Obama has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. The group rallied its supporters last month behind Michelle Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witch hunt against Huma Abedin and others. Here’s Sadek with ACT! For America president Brigitte Gabriel at one of the group’s 2010 events.
 
Sadek is a man of many interests. He’s a member of these groups, among many others: Islam is of the Devil, Warriors of Christ, and OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER! Agree?. Sadek is also a fan of the Republican Party, George Bush, Allen West (for president no less!), and number of other Islamophobic, conservative and/or Republican institutions and leaders. Ironically enough, he’s also a fan of the American embassy in Cairo, which was overrun by the protests that he sparked:
Now to be clear, Sadek has every right to carry out his work, and the violent extremists behind yesterday’s attack bear full responsibility for their actions. But we can and should hold Sadek to account for his own bigoted views and actions, which have poured gasoline on the fire and made it that much more difficult for the United States to achieve its strategic and diplomatic goals. It’s also made life worse for the very people in Egypt that Sadek claims to be fighting for.
 
This is not the first time that the actions of extremist Christian activists in America have boiled over in the Middle East. As the New York Times reported in July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s motorcade “was pelted with shoes and tomatoes by Egyptian protesters” motivated by conspiracy theories that “originated with American conservatives” – two of whom, Jerry Boykin and Frank Gaffney, will be speaking at the upcoming Values Voter Summit.
 

FRC Calls Islam a 'Fanatical Religion,' Attacks White House Event with Muslims

When the Family Research Council wasn’t rallying support this week for Todd Akin or pushing to keep the ban on abortions in the case of rape or incest in the GOP platform, it found time to denigrate an entire religion. FRC sends out weekly Prayer Team alerts, asking “for your prayers relating to various public policy issues.”

This week’s alert called Islam – the religion of 2.6 million Americans and 1.6 billion people around the world – a “fanatical religion.” The alert also attacked a recent White House event with the American Muslim community – an Iftar dinner to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.
 
At the dinner, President Obama highlighted the role of Muslim-Americans in government and showcased Thomas Jefferson’s Koran. Here’s FRC’s interpretation:
In his remarks, the President suggested that Thomas Jefferson may have hosted the first White House Iftar Dinner and he showcased the Koran from Jefferson's library (Fact: Thomas Jefferson long advocated using military force to deal with hostile Muslims in the Mediterranean and ordered the Marines to Tripoli among his first acts as President and had a Koran primarily to study the fanatical religion of his adversaries).
FRC characterized Obama’s remarks at the event as “amazing,” and not in a good way. What was so amazing, you ask? For one thing, Obama “praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration,” including Huma Abedin. The group also accused Obama of giving preference to Islam at the expense of Christians and Christianity:
The Iftar event stood in bold contrast to the National Day of Prayer. In four years, President Obama has neither hosted a White House NDP event nor sent a representative to the national event on Capitol Hill, as previous presidents have done. […] President Obama's Iftar remarks are amazing reading. While he said great things about religious freedom, his tribute to Islam stands in shocking contrast to his dealings with Christians and the National Day of Prayer. He praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration.
This is a very telling line of argument. FRC is conflating the National Day of Prayer – which is chaired by the wife of FRC’s founder, James Dobson – with all of Christianity, and it’s not by mistake. Religious Right leaders have long thought of themselves and their followers as the only real Christians.
 
That’s why Obama’s 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House and Obama’s speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast don’t count. Obama’s 2012 White House Seder is probably just more evidence to them that he’s not really Christian. Obama even issued a presidential proclamation declaring the 2012 National Day of Prayer, but that’s not good enough. They want him to come and kiss Dobson’s ring.
 
Remarkably, FRC used the same alert described above to call for prayers for “moderation and civility in the public debate” over social issues. That’s how blind FRC is to its own rhetoric.
 
Meanwhile the group is preparing to host Paul Ryan as the headliner of its Values Voter Summit next month in DC. Earlier in the month, Romney met privately with Dobson and FRC’s Vice President, Jerry Boykin, who has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. Romney met one-on-one with Perkins in mid-July.

 

Paul Ryan Featured Alongside 'Former Terrorist’

This, in a nutshell, is your modern Religious Right:

The website for the upcoming Values Voter Summit in DC, hosted by the Family Research Council, features Mitt Romney’s running mate side-by-side with “former terrorist” Kamal Saleem, seen here:
 
 
I can’t imagine Ryan would appreciate being given equal billing with a “former terrorist,” but Saleem is a big deal to the Religious Right.
 
Saleem, whose real name is Khodor Shami, claims that he was Muslim Brotherhood operative who “came to the United States of America…to destroy this country,” saying that he crossed the Canadian border and “brought weapon caches right through cities.” Somewhere along the way he converted, got a job at Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, and became the favorite ex-Muslim of the Religious Right. As a result, he says his life is constantly in danger, and he is being pursued by foreign agents.
 
If you’re asking yourself why Saleem isn’t in jail as opposed to speaking at a conference with the likes of Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Jerry Boykin, and Tony Perkins, it’s because Saleem is widely considered to be a fraud. But this begs a question.
 
Does FRC believe Saleem? Do they think he came to America as a Muslim Brotherhood member bent on destroying our nation? They have scheduled him to speak alongside Jerry Boykin in a breakout session on “the strategic nature of Israel, and its role in the Middle East, America, and in the future of Western Civilization.” That suggests they do.
 
FRC is either knowingly presenting a fraud or someone who plotted to destroy the nation. If it’s the latter, they must also believe that Saleem is being pursued by foreign agents who are threatening his life. Now I’m not an event planner, but I would lean against booking anyone like that at a high-profile conference with governors and members of Congress.
 
But no matter FRC’s real intentions, Saleem is clearly useful to their anti-Muslim efforts. He is willing to say pretty much anything to confirm the darkest, most paranoid suspicions of his audiences, e.g.:
I, for one, welcome an investigation by the proper authorities to ensure Paul Ryan’s safety and prevent Michele Bachmann from accidentally palling around with a terrorist. If Saleem is to be believed, that is.
 

 

PFAW Calls on Speaker Boehner to Remove Michele Bachmann from Intelligence Committee

Washington, DC -- People For the American Way is calling on House Speaker John Boehner to remove Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and two other members from their seats on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence after a series of irresponsible allegations against U.S. government employees.

Intelligence Committee members Bachmann, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and Rep. Thomas Rooney were among the five Republican representatives to sign a letter to federal agencies baselessly alleging that a number of public servants, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin, have ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The letter relied largely on phony information peddled by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney.

Last week, Speaker Boehner called the accusations “pretty dangerous,” but refused to say whether he’d remove Bachmann and the others from the Intelligence Committee. Abedin has reportedly been placed under police protection after receiving a threat over the weekend.

“Michele Bachmann has never been a model of responsibility, but this latest attack is one step too far,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Members of the House Intelligence Committee are entrusted with classified information that affects the safety and security of all Americans. That information should not be in the hands of anyone with such a disregard for honesty, misunderstanding of national security, and lack of respect for her fellow public servants.

“Speaker Boehner was right to call out Rep. Bachmann’s dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric. Now he should act on those words.”

PFAW’s Right Wing Watch has put together a brief history of Rep. Bachmann's conspiracy theories.

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PFAW Statement on Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin was on his best behavior at this morning’s Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. That’s not surprising given the heightened media scrutiny and promises by Mayor Rick Meehan that Boykin would not say anything inflammatory. However, that does not excuse Ocean City officials – Mayor Meehan in particular – for providing a platform to a man who travels the country spreading bigotry and divisiveness

Some OC officials try to distance themselves from prayer breakfast, but Boykin will speak as planned

Following up on the Ocean City Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast controversy -- In today’s Daily Times, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Council members Knight and Ashley attempted to distance themselves from the prayer breakfast but said that Boykin would speak as planned:

http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/20120124/NEWS01/120124011/OCEAN-CITY-...

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