Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to add a populist bent to his remarks on the topic — an increasingly popular strategy among LGBT rights opponents — by declaring that “an alliance of Hollywood elites and corporate America” are “assaulting the rights of Christians” by opposing measures like those in Indiana and Arkansas that would have given broad leeway to business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers.
“We need to remind these elites, America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America,” he told the enthusiastic crowd.
John Zmirak, a conservative columnist and senior editor of James Robison’s “The Stream” website, warned in a radio interview this week (as he did in a recent column) that Christians in America are on the verge of being violently persecuted like Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, Jews in Nazi Germany, or Tutsis in Rwanda.
Citing the case of an Indiana pizzeria that shut down after facing backlash after its owners said they wouldn’t cater gay people’s weddings (and which has since received more than $800,000 in donations), Zmirak told Alaska’s Joe Miller that “I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America.”
“It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with?” he said.
He warned that within five years, “we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.”
When a dominant group wants to persecute a minority, the first thing they do is vilify them. You had the dominant secularists in France before the French Revolution spend about 20 years vilifying the Christian clergy; the moment they took power in the French Revolution, they started killing the Christian clergy. When the Turks decided that the Armenians were a dangerous minority almost 100 years ago to the day, they started out with a propaganda campaign saying that the Armenians were all traitors working for the Russian czar; within a few years, they were butchering in the streets and driving them into the desert to die of thirst. Same thing happened in, of course, Nazi Germany, they vilified the Jews, preparing people for the Holocaust. You saw it happen again in Rwanda, where the once-powerful Tutsi minority, they were declared on government radio stations for weeks and weeks, they were called cockroaches, ‘we must exterminate the cockroaches.’ It was repeated over and over and over again and it was followed, of course, by a genocide that in the course of a month or two, killed more than a million people.
I think this vilification of faithful Christians could lead to violence in America. I think the churches have been persecuted before, Christians are being persecuted all around the world by Islamists — and the U.S. government is doing nothing, of course — I could imagine Americans standing by while churches are padlocked and pastors are arrested for being hatemongers, while children are being taken away from their parents because they don’t want them to be taught they’re extremist views.
It’s happened so many times before, and all the signs are there that the enemies of Christianity are seeing ‘how much can we get away with? Can we close down a pizza parlor for even theoretically being willing to discriminate? Can we get teachers from religious schools fired? They’re going to keep pushing until they hit pushback. And unless there’s powerful pushback from Christians now — not five years from now, when it will be too late, but now — we’re going to see ourselves reduced to the status of second-class citizens the way Christians are in countries like Egypt and Syria.
The American Pastors Network, a Religious Right group hoping to organize networks of politically active evangelical pastors in all 50 states, met with Pennsylvania pastors at Lancaster Bible College on Thursday. The day-long event featured several national speakers like “historian” David Barton, activist Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ, and right-wing broadcaster Sandy Rios, who as Kyle reported yesterday, urged participants to prepare for martyrdom.
The threat of anti-Christian persecution was a frequent theme at the U-Turn conference, which took its name and themes from a recent book co-authored by Barton and evangelical pollster George Barna. For example, Steve Scheibner, an American Airlines pilot who narrowly avoided being on a flight that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, declared, “Persecution is coming.” But, he added, “It may be the best thing that’s ever happened to the church.” Another speaker, Dale Anderson, thanked “that rascal” Barack Obama for having woken up the church.
Paul Blair gave David Barton-esque remarks about the nation’s history and cited English jurist William Blackstone in arguing that there can be no valid law that is contrary to scripture. He declared that “Judge Roy Moore,” Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is “a hero” for defying a federal judge’s decision on marriage equality. Blair said America is in its current state because too many pastors and people have been “sheep.” He insisted that marriage equality is a line that Christians must not allow to be crossed.
Barna was the Debbie Downer of the conference, reeling off pages of statistics designed to show the moral decline of America and the diminishing influence of the church in American culture. Among the statistics that seemed to land like a punch to the gut: only nine percent of born-again Americans have what Barna calls a “biblical worldview” – just over 51 percent of Protestant senior pastors make the grade. Barna decried the fact that so many pastors do not preach about current political topics.
Barton’s speech contained no surprises for anyone familiar with his shtick about the influence of colonial-era pastors on the country’s founding, the number of Bible verses supposedly contained in the U.S. Constitution, and his insistence that the Bible is filled with specific policy prescriptions, such as opposition to minimum wages and capital gains taxes. In fact, he said, the Bible includes 613 civil laws for running the country.
Barton cited principles of warfare taught at the Army War College to argue that the church is supposed to be on offense, not defense, in current culture war battles. Making that happen is the goal of those who are working to build the American Pastors Network, including Sam Rohrer, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who serves as president of both the national and Pennsylvania networks.
Among the video presentations at the conference was a message recorded by Mike Huckabee in Israel, standing on a ridge overlooking the valley that he said would be the site of the battle of Armageddon. He stood on Mt. Carmel, the site of an Old Testament showdown in which Elijah showed up the prophets of Baal by having God rain down fire on an altar he had drenched with water. America, said Huckabee, needs pulpits willing to call down God’s fire.
Among the vendors doing a brisk business at the conference was the Institute of the Constitution, which promotes a Christian Reconstructionist ideology, and which has used its materials to train Tea Party activists in their vision of a radically, and biblically, limited role for the government.
At Saturday’s Awakening conference, an annual Religious Right confab organized by Liberty Counsel, the mood surrounding LGBT rights had reached full-blown panic.
Nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision let loose a cascade of federal court decisions legalizing marriage between same-sex couples in dozens of states, the Religious Right activists gathered in a megachurch in Orlando were bracing for a Supreme Court decision that could establish marriage equality nationwide.
At a panel titled “Activism in the Age of Lawlessness,” four Religious Right leaders — John Eidsmoe, Rick Scarborough, William Murray and Harry Mihet — gathered to suss out what the movement’s response should be to pro-LGBT court rulings that they find to be “lawless.”
John Eidsmoe, the influential Christian nationalist thinker who served as a mentor to Michele Bachmann, outlined the issue, explaining to the audience that “‘rule of law’ ultimately means ‘rule of the highest law,’” or God’s law.
Eidsmoe, who now works for the Religious Right group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is urging judges in his state to defy a federal court ruling on marriage equality, argued that you are only disobeying the law if you disobey “the law of God.”
“You disobey a law only when those who have that law are breaking a higher law, the law of God,” he said. “And in fact, if you follow the decree of a tyrant when he is defying the law, you are complicit in his defiance. Disobedience then becomes not only a right, it becomes a duty.”
Eidsmoe explained that the idea of civil disobedience had been perverted since biblical times, since the idea of not violating your conscience should only apply if “your conscience is in accord with the word of God.”
Rick Scarborough, the head of Vision America, warned that a Supreme Court decision for marriage equality would be worse for the Religious Right than Roe v. Wade because “with abortion, you can opt out, you don’t have to participate in that.”
He claimed that, in contrast, a marriage equality decision would outlaw anti-gay speech, the exact same erroneous prediction he made following the passage of the 2009 Hate Crimes Law.
“We’ll get up the day after that ruling, and in fact a few hours after that ruling when it’s widely disseminated, and you’ll find yourself, those of us who believe that homosexuality is a sexual sin — perversion if you will — those of us who believe that homosexual marriage is unnatural and forbidden by God and who have taught that our entire lives…when that law is passed you are then going to breaking the law when you preach or teach what you’ve always taught or what you’ve always preached,” he claimed.
“Fundamentally, it undermines the whole nature of America,” Scarborough concluded.
Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet, who was moderating the panel, echoed Scarborough’s dire warnings when he declared that there would be “no way to escape this issue” and that it might “in the near future” land anti-LGBT pastors in jail… just like Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We have to draw the line in the sand and stand firm on the truth of the Word, and not to shy away from a fight, not to quit, not to be silent, but to actually speak truth and love to a society that has a desperate need to hear it,” he said. “And there may come a time when you will have to lose your job because that’s what you’ve done. There may come a time in the near future when you have to lose your liberty and go to jail like Martin Luther King did.”
When an audience member in a session about abortion rights asked what to do about a pastor who refuses to participate in politics, Connelly responded that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual” and urged pastors to violate rarely-enforced regulations that prevent churches from being involved in partisan politics in order to keep their tax-exempt status.
Referring to cases where businesses have run afoul of nondiscrimination laws by refusing service to gay and lesbian couples, Connelly said, “Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to? They’re coming for the church.”
Listen, voter registration is not political, it’s spiritual. Voting is not political, it’s spiritual. So witness and testimony to the community what you believe in. No wonder we get legislation we don’t agree with, no wonder we get candidates and elected officials we don’t agree with, because our people aren’t engaged.
So if your pastor’s saying, ‘It’s a legal issue, I can’t do this,’ ask them how many churches have lost their tax-exempt status. It’s a finite number: zero. By definition, you’re tax exempt. If there’s no freedom of speech in the pulpit, there’s no freedom of speech, brothers and sisters. And if we can’t say the truth from the pulpit, guess what, we can’t say the truth anywhere.
Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to. They’re coming for the church.
He ended by asking the audience to “please help us pressure your pastors” to get involved in elections, but adding that “it’s not a party or political issue.”
Later in the same discussion, far-right pastor Rick Scarborough warned that “every pastor is going to be directly assaulted” by the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on marriage equality, claiming that a pro-equality ruling would force churches to “participate in same-sex marriage” or face fines or imprisonment.
A direct mail letter from FRC Action dated February 2015 features a shadowy outline of a machine-gun-wielding terrorist with the warning:
TERRORISM: no longer “out there”
How they’re become a threat to YOU and your family
Inside, the letter from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins connects the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, the attacks on Coptic Christians in the Middle East, and what he calls the Obama administration’s “illegal amnesty program.” Perkins warns that “it is clear that American families are being placed in serious danger by President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration.”
After discussing ISIS efforts to recruit American Muslims, Perkins states:
It is clear that some people are coming across the border with ulterior motives—not simply looking for working in hopes of sending money home to their families. These are not simply rumors from news reports; I have this firsthand from people in government and in organizations focused on national security.
Perkins even manages to work in marriage equality:
This President refuses to acknowledge that there is evil in the world. Terrorists are not simply people who grew up in bad neighborhoods and developed bad attitudes. These are people who want to kill us.
President Obama holds a worldview – and a view of America – that puts everything we value at risk. In the same way that he shrugs off a radical redefinition of marriage, in the same way that he shrugs off the persecution of Christians in other countries (and adopts policies that contribute to it in our own country), he minimizes the threat of Islamic terrorists.
And by connecting these threats to what he calls the administration’s “lawlessness,” Perkins is even able to work in Obamacare.
Perkins ends with a P.S.:
As “People of the Cross,” it is clear that you and I have been targeted by the terrorists. It is no longer a vague “concern.” It is a very real threat. Our President is not protecting us. We must move Congress to ensure your safety and the safety of your children and grandchildren. We will fight for you on Capitol Hill. Please help us. Give generously today. Thank you again.
In testimony to a Senate subcommittee today, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins linked the Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case to violent religious persecution in the Middle East and around the world, repeating his claim that there is a “correlation” between perceived discrimination against conservative Christians in the U.S. and oppression and violence against religious minority groups by groups like ISIS.
As we noted yesterday, Perkins was a troubling choice to testify in an international religious freedom hearing because he routinely exploits the very real persecution of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the world to attack President Obama and the LGBT rights movement, who he claims are persecuting Christians in the United States by preventing them from discriminating against gay people.
Perkins picked up on the theme in his testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee, responding to a question from Sen. Steve Daines of Montana by claiming that U.S. policies like the HHS mandate on insurance coverage for contraceptives that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case send a “message to bad actors abroad that America no longer puts a high priority on religious freedom.”
“The lack of priority on religious freedom that we have placed here domestically in our policies does send a message internationally,” he said. “I think there is a correlation between…the growing intolerance toward religious freedom here at home, i.e. in the marketplace, is giving rise to persecution abroad. And the reason I say that is when we no longer make it a priority domestically, that sends a message to bad actors abroad that America no longer puts a high priority on religious freedom, so we don’t have to worry about them acting against us or moving against us based on that.”
“I mean, you look at the case of the HHS mandate, the Hobby Lobby case, which had to go all the way to the Supreme Court in order to exercise their religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Act,” he added.
That was too much even for Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel to the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, who responded that while he agreed with Perkins that the contraception coverage mandate represented “religious discrimination,” it was “not on the same level as religious persecution where people are having their throats slit, being crucified or being beheaded.”
This isn’t the first time Perkins has made such an absurd claim: He once suggested that President Obama’s support for overturning the Citizens United decision is somehow connected to the violent persecution of Christians in countries like Sudan.
Earlier in his testimony, Perkins also claimed that the Obama administration had left open the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom for “36 months,” sending “a message that we did not put a priority as an administration, as a country on religious freedom.” The position was indeed left open for a little over two years at the start of President Obama’s first term…because then-Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican who now runs the Heritage Foundation, placed a hold on Obama’s first nominee for the job.
The Family Research Council announced today that its president, Tony Perkins, has been invited to testify at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing tomorrow on “protecting religious freedom abroad.”
The inclusion of Perkins threatens to turn a hearing about a critically important issue into a political sideshow. Perkins has consistently used the persecution of Christians abroad as a political bludgeon at home, claiming that LGBT rights in the U.S. are fueling religious persecution worldwide and falsely asserting that President Obama has done nothing to stop the oppression of Christians because he secretly sympathizes with Islamic radicals.
And, even as he accuses the Obama administration of ignoring the plight of Christians, Perkins has attacked international human rights efforts aimed at combating violence against and government oppression of LGBT people.
Perkins routinely trots out the claim that conservative Christians are being persecuted in America to blame the Obama administration and the LGBT rights movement for very real anti-Christian persecution throughout the world. In an interview with Rick Santorum in November, Perkins insisted that there is a “correlation” between the supposed persecution of Christians in America and violent attacks on Christians and churches in the Middle East and elsewhere. “They feel like if it’s not a priority for us to have religious freedom here at home, then certainly it’s not going to be a priority for us to speak out for the persecuted peoples abroad,” he said.
Claiming that nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people are in fact discriminatory against Christians, Perkins said in November that combating such laws “will give hope to far-away places around the world” where Christians are being oppressed by tyrannical governments.
He similarly blamed advances in LGBT rights in the U.S. for encouraging religious persecution in Iran and North Korea, citing the case of an Atlanta fire chief who lost his job after distributing an anti-gay book to claim that “tyrants abroad see an administration that is not only not interested in protecting religious freedom but actually persecuting.” At another point, he warned of “deadly consequences” for Christians abroad if marriage equality succeeds in the United States.
Last year, Perkins linked the case of Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was imprisoned for converting to Christianity, to an effort to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, saying “we keep our freedom of religion by working to keep our freedom of speech, and political speech is actually what’s under attack here.”
Perkins frequently brushes aside the evidence he is presented with to suggest that President Obama is ignoring the plight of Christians throughout the world. Throughout Ibrahim’s plight, Perkins insisted that the Obama administration had “done nothing” for her…even after sources including Fox News and a conservative Republican congressman told him that the administration had been working diligently to set her free. Even after diplomatic pressure led to Ibrahim’s release and she was granted asylum in the United States, Perkins claimed in a fundraising letter that there was “no evidence that the Obama State Department did anything to intervene.”
Also during Ibrahim’s ordeal, Perkins used his false claims about Obama’s indifference to advance whispered conspiracy theories that the President is secretly aMuslim radical.
Similarly, when the administration secured the release of Kenneth Bae, a Christian pastor held in a North Korean prison camp, Perkins used the opportunity to falsely claim that the administration was doing nothing to help another Christian political prisoner, Saeed Abedini, in Iran.
Perkins hasn’t just exploited the cases of persecuted Christians to attack Obama — he has also used them in an effort to lend legitimacy to his fight against LGBT rights in the United States.
He frequently portrays protecting LGBT people from violence and protecting Christians from religious persecution as an either-or choice…and, unsurprisingly, claims that Obama has chosen the former. In a direct mail piece in August, for instance, Perkins vowed to fight the administration’s “devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”
Perkins may portray the issues as mutually exclusive because he vehemently opposes any U.S. efforts to protect LGBT people from violence and persecution from their governments. Back in 2010, he defended a Uganda bill that would have imposed life imprisonment for consensual sex with someone of the same sex and the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality,” saying it was an effort to “uphold moral conduct.” When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched an initiative to promote LGBT rights throughout the world, he accused her of promoting a “radical social agenda” including “special rights for homosexuals and homosexuality”… while claiming that she had remained “silent” on anti-Christian persecution.
Religious persecution around the world is certainly a worthy topic for the Senate to address. But including Tony Perkins in such a hearing is not the way for a committee to convey that it is taking this issue seriously.
Concerned Women for America’s legal counsel, Mario Diaz, stopped by Iowa CWA director Tamara Scott’s radio program last week to discuss the Supreme Court’s upcoming consideration of a number of marriage equality cases.
Scott, who is also a Republican National Committee member, told Diaz that LGBT rights advocates, “the group that exploits the term ‘tolerant’ as their poster,” are actually “so incredibly intolerant to anyone with an opposing view.”
Diaz agreed that a collision between LGBT rights and religious liberty is “inevitable,” and that a Supreme Court marriage equality victory would lead to the “criminalization of religious beliefs.”
“And it is one of the great tragedies that I think I put now at the feet of the Supreme Court, if they are considering finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in the Constitution, they must consider, and I hope they are, that they will be effectively opening the door for the criminalization of religious beliefs, especially Christian beliefs.”
Later in the interview, Scott and Diaz agreed that LGBT rights victories in the courts amount to, in Diaz’s words, a “transformation of the form of government we have.”
Pointing to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comment that it wouldn’t take “a large adjustment” for Americans to adapt to same-sex marriage, Diaz said she is planning to wave a “magic wand and declare that the country’s ready now to move to same-sex marriage.”
“And in a few years, when the country’s ready for polygamy, then the country’s ready for that also, and we continue down that track to anything that the majority of us agree about. It’s just preposterous,” he added.
Across Alabama, local judges are openly defying a federal judicial order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The New York Times reported yesterday that 44 of the state's 67 counties were not granting licenses. The state is a checkerboard, where gay and lesbian Alabamans are locked out of full citizenship across vast swaths of the state based on the whims of local officials.
As many observers have pointed out, this week's events make Americans recall the state's historic resistance to federal court orders striking down segregation. But they show us an image of the future, as well ... or at least the future as the Far Right would have it.
Emboldened by the Supreme Court's distortion of religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case, some state legislatures are considering bills that would allow government officials to decline to perform marriages that offend them religiously. A number of states are also considering legislation to let people exempt themselves from anti-discrimination and other laws if compliance would offend them religiously. While misleadingly framed as protecting religious liberty, these bills are really intended to allow discrimination and to let conservatives impose their religious beliefs on others.
So what would America look like if we allowed such massive holes to be poked in laws that are supposed to protect everyone? What if lesbian and gay couples were legally treated as outsiders in their home communities, had fewer legal rights than anyone else in those communities, and had to travel anywhere from another neighborhood to another county to find a bakery willing to make a cake for them, a hotel willing to rent them a room for the night, or an employer willing to grant them spousal employment benefits? What if a woman's ability to find adequate healthcare depended on finding an employer and a pharmacist with compatible religious beliefs? What if people's basic rights varied depending on where they were, and upon the prevailing religious beliefs of people in the area? What would such a religiously balkanized nation look like?
It would look a lot like Alabama does today. And it would be ugly.
For decades, the Far Right has fought tooth and nail to impose their religious beliefs through government fiat. They have fought to prevent gays from marrying, to prevent women from exercising reproductive choice, to have public schools indoctrinate other people's children with their own religious beliefs, ... the list goes on. And when they fail at changing the laws to match their religion, they seek exemptions from those laws in the name of "religious liberty."
Last June, the Supreme Court gave certain for-profit corporations the right to deny women vitally important (and statutorily required) healthcare coverage that offends their employers' religious beliefs, claiming it was simply protecting the employers' religious liberty. Across the country, right wing extremists are seeking to empower individuals and business owners whose religious beliefs are offended by LGBT equality to exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws — again, supposedly in the name of religious liberty. Conservative Christians aggressively seeking to deprive others of their legal rights regularly portray themselves as the victims of religious persecution.
People For the American Way has released a new report examining the many ways that religious liberty issues are increasingly coming up in public policy debates in communities across the nation. But this isn't religious liberty as it has been understood throughout our nation's history.
Authored by Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery, Religious Liberty: Shield or Sword? examines how the Far Right is working to transform this core American value from a shield protecting individuals' religious freedom into a sword that harms other people and undermines measures to promote the common good.
The report provides vital factual background and analysis to help readers better understand how religious freedom principles have traditionally been regarded, as well as how they are being twisted by a far right movement in an effort to reverse its fortunes as their substantive arguments are increasingly rejected by the American public. These distorting efforts come from conservative advocacy organizations, state and federal legislators, and even a narrow majority of the United States Supreme Court.
This report is an important tool to help understand and confront the Right in public policy debates across the country, as they increasingly seek to use religious liberty as a sword to deny rights to others, and as they continue to portray themselves as victims of religious persecution.
As readers of RWW are well aware, Religious Right leaders have adopted a strategy of portraying just about any policy they disagree with as a dire threat to their religious freedom. And they love to portray President Barack Obama as a sinister enemy of religious liberty. Today’s frantic email from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is a model of both the Obama-is-evil paradigm and frothing-at-the-mouth alarmism about threats to religious freedom in America.
This money beg has it all: President Obama scheming to turn America into a godless, totalitarian wasteland; ridiculous claims that the administration wants to silence the religious expression of its critics; conspiracy theories about Common Core; and flat-out lies that the administration did nothing to secure the release of Meriam Ibrahim from the Sudanese prison where she had been unjustly held.
To avoid any accusations that we’ve taken Perkins out of context, here’s today’s fundraising letter in full:
January 27, 2015
As I wrote to you earlier this month, 2015 could very well be the most dangerous year for Christians in American history!
President Obama seems willing to do anything to further his radical agenda—even if it means violating the Constitution to take away your religious freedom.
This President has clearly placed the religious freedom of millions of Christians like you in his sights. Why? You are among the people who are standing in the gap against his radical plans to transform America into a godless, secular country where government reigns supreme.
In these evil days it is more important than ever that you stand your ground for religious freedom!
2015 could very well be a make-or-break year for the future of religious liberty in America. Between now and 2016, President Obama, who knows his time to "leave his mark on history" is growing short, will go all-out. He will use theunlimited resources at his disposalin a drive to attempt to . . .
PUNISH Christians for opposing same-sex "marriage";
FORCE pro-life people to fund abortions through ObamaCare;
INDOCTRINATE your children with the help of Common Core;
BAN religious expression and free speech when it conflicts with federal speech regulations; and
STOP Christian-owned businesses from doing business with the government because they will not embrace the homosexual agenda.
President Obama and his supporters wrongly believe that our rights as Christian citizens are granted by, and can therefore be repealed, by government. They do not believe, as you and I do, or even as our Founding Fathers did, that . . .
Our rights are inalienable because they come from God.
We will never compromise on that truth. And that's why we can win so many of the showdowns. Truth has power when people of faith stand up for it. With God's help and your faithful support, FRC has been able to . . .
FREE persecuted overseas Christians, even when our own government would not—Christians such as Mariam Ibraheem who was imprisoned for her faith;
DEFEND the religious liberty of the brave servicemen and women in the U.S. military who are persecuted and punished because they publicly affirm their Christian values;
PROTECT employers and employees forced to leave their faith at the door when they enter public service;
UPHOLD natural marriage while countering the pro-homosexual agenda which wants to silence Christians and their objections to same-sex "marriage";
PRESSURE Congress to officially protect religious freedom and oppose the President's unconstitutional power grab; and
EXPOSE the relentless assault on religious liberty that has largely been ignored by the mainstream media.
Thanks to champions of freedom like you . . . No organization has done more to preserve religious freedom in Washington, D.C., than FRC!
But there is still much, much more that must be done to stop the assault on religious freedom that threatens the very future of our nation. I won't mince words: All of us must redouble our efforts to meet the incredible challenges ahead of us.
One of my heroes was 18th century conservative, Edmund Burke. In the British Parliament, he fought slavery and actually supported the American Revolution. A man of faith, he is credited with saying, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was a guest on American Family Radio today, where he discussed with Tim Wildmon his new project building a Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky. Ham insisted that the theme park, a complement to Ham's Creation Museum, has come under attack from “intolerant” liberals who want to deny it taxpayer funding.
Last month, Kentucky’s tourism board announced that the Noah’s Ark park wouldn’t be eligible for an $18 million tourism tax break because Answers In Genesis intends to use the site to proseletize and refuses to promise not to discriminate based on religion in its hiring. The board noted that “[s]tate tourism tax incentives cannot be used to fund religious indoctrination or otherwise be used to advance religion," but Ham cried persecution, complaining that Kentucky had violated his “fundamental rights” by witholding the tax break.
In the American Family Radio interview, Ham continued to portray himself as the victim of “intolerant” liberals (like Bill Nye) while also inadvertently bolstering the tourism board’s case by announcing that the Noah’s Ark park will be “one of the greatest evangelist outreaches of our day, of our period in history.”
In an interview with Rick Santorum on Tuesday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that American Christians are being persecuted because the U.S. “began to normalize behavior that had long been considered inappropriate” and that such supposed persecution in the U.S. is contributing to violent religious persecution around the globe.
“You hate to use the term persecution, because when you look around the world, we see real religious persecution,” Santorum, who was guest hosting Steve Deace’s show, said. “We see people dying, churches being burned, we see mass killings of Christians, so I sort of tread lightly on the world persecution.”
But, he added, “this is really the first time in this country where we’ve seen any kind of coordinated effort of government really imposing its will on the American public and forcing them to comply or else.”
Perkins told Santorum that he need not use caution in referring to things like nondiscrimination ordinances in the U.S. as “persecution,” telling him “there is a correlation…between the increase in persecution abroad and the increase of intolerance from our own government here at home.”
“They feel like if it’s not a priority for us to have religious freedom here at home, then certainly it’s not going to be a priority for us to speak out for the persecuted peoples abroad,” he said.
Earlier in the program, the two gave a clearer idea of what they mean by the “persecution” of Christians in America, discussing the situation in Houston where a number of pastors received subpoenas as part of a lawsuit filed by anti-gay activists trying to take down the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.
Perkins commended Santorum for warning America that “this was coming if we began to normalize behavior that had long been considered inappropriate and began to protect it and provide preferential treatment to it.”
Yesterday, we reported that Matt Barber’s conservative website BarbWire published an anti-gay column by Philip Stallings, a self-described “theonomist” who recently advocated for the “lawful execution” of gay people – or “sodomites.”
Stallings’ column has disappeared, and today Barber tweeted at us, “Wow! Thanks for the tip. We obviously weren’t aware of that & find the position appalling. The answer is life in Christ.”
Well. It’s good to have Matt Barber say he finds the idea of executing gay people appalling. We agree.
But if that’s the case he ought to consider vetting the material he promotes a little more carefully. Just over a week ago we noted that BarbWire had run a column praising Pastor Steven Anderson, who has called for the execution of gays, and has said, “You want to know who the biggest hypocrite in the world is? The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers and not for homosexuals.”
And given how much anti-gay extremism is promoted by Barber and his Religious Right allies, that got us wondering if anything else short of calling for the killing of gay people would cross the line for Barber.
We collected some other statements that Barber apparently doesn’t find appalling, because they’ve all been in columns promoted on his site:
And that’s just a sampling of the anti-gay extremists who have found a home on BarbWire. Not to mention Barber himself, who says he has been “called by God” to “sound the alarm” about the fact that gay sex is always sinful, and “The wages of sin is death.”
We’re just scratching the service. BarbWire’s extremism is not limited to anti-gay activities. It publishes just about anything you could imagine about President Barack Obama. BarbWire has published calls for God to “cut short” Obama’s presidency and claims Obama worships “Lucifer/Moloch” and intends “to turn the USA into the Marxist-Islamic North American Caliphate.” Among the conspiracy theories it promotes:
Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America — specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.
Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response." But he adds: "The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.
As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It's not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.
So what is the real story?
The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city's new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.
Here's the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.
On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it's entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right's lawsuit. That's how our legal system works.
Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston's, and America's, LGBT citizens.
An action alert from American Family Association President Tim Wildmon today warns of a plague of “mandatory gay brain-washing” sweeping the nation. Such brainwashing, he reports, is being done by people like a gay public official in Kentucky whose Twitter account is “flaming with pro-gay hype” — such as news of his engagement. The only thing to do, Wildmon says, is to watch AFA’s new movie about anti-Christian persecution and "pray for America" because “I am convinced that the survival of America as the greatest nation in history rests on whether the nation turns away from its slide into secularism and once again seeks the true God.”
Two more Christian business owners face fines, mandatory gay brain-washing
Tuesday, October 13, 2014
Christian-owned Hands on Originals was asked to print the shirts for the Lexington Pride Festival but politely declined because of the owner’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Instead, he found a printer willing to do the job and for the same price. (See full story at OneNewsNow )
Lexington Human Rights Commission Executive Director Raymond Sexton told FoxNews’ Todd Starnes that Christian business owners should leave their faith at home and is recommending that the HRC fine the owner and force him to attend mandatory “diversity training” conducted by the commission.
Ironically, the commission’s vice-chairman is a rabid homosexual activist, whose Twitter account is flaming with pro-gay hype, including his own “gay” engagement announcement.
Liberty Ridge Farms, located in New York, was recently fined $10,000 and ordered to pay two lesbians $1,500 each. That's because the Gifford family, which owns the farm, refused to rent its facilities for a lesbian wedding because of their religious beliefs.
The New York Division of Human Rights found the owners guilty of violating New York's human rights law, in particular public accommodations and sexual orientation. You can read the full story at OneNewsNow .
These are not made-up stories. They are real…and becoming more and more frequent.
Homosexual activists are now intentionally seeking out Christian business owners for the sole purpose of attacking and destroying religious liberties.
Concerning A Time To Speak, I am praying that you will undertake these five actions:
2) Pass it on or show it to as many friends and family as you can. DVDs can be ordered from the website.
3) Visit ATimeToSpeak.com for a wealth of information about how you can help preserve America’s religious freedoms, including a comprehensive online voter guide on where candidates stand on issues that matter most.
4) Vote your biblical values on Tuesday, November 4. The upcoming midterm elections are critical. Imagine the impact Americans of faith can have on the future of our nation, the character of its leadership, and the health of its families if we all applied biblical principles to every aspect of our lives – including committing to vote and to vote wisely.
5) Pray for America. If you watch the news you know that America is facing threats from without and within the nation. I am convinced that the survival of America as the greatest nation in history rests on whether the nation turns away from its slide into secularism and once again seeks the true God.
Politico is up with a profile of the Becket Fund, one of the Religious Right legal groups that has pushed, via Hobby Lobby and related cases, to expand the definition of “religious liberty” to allow corporations and individuals as well as religious institutions to opt out of laws they say violate their religious beliefs.
While it is true that support for religious freedom crosses political and religious lines, and it is admirable that Becket, unlike some other Religious Right legal groups, defends the freedom of religious minorities as well as conservative Christians, it is hard to accept with a straight face the idea that Becket’s lawyers are not culture warriors.
Let’s review some of Becket’s culture-war credentials:
Earlier this year, Becket celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the Court upheld sectarian prayer at official public meetings and narrowly defined what would amount to unconstitutional religious coercion of people attending those meetings. Becket signaled that it hoped the decision would lead to the further dismantling of court rulings that uphold church-state separation.
Last year a Becket blog post about a legal victory for a Colorado voucher program that diverts public education funds to religious schools was headlined “Needy Kids 1, Anti-Catholic Bigots 0.”
In the fall of 2012, Becket co-sponsored an event for the Manhattan Declaration — itself a call to the culture-war barricades. According to an admiring report by Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion & Democracy, Becket President William Mumma “noted that in today’s culture wars ‘religion is not an accidental victim, it is the target’ for radical secularists. ‘When government tries to murder religion it may murder religious liberty but not religion,’ he promised, as faith will survive amid persecution.”
Becket’s executive director Kristina Arriaga joined hard-core culture warriors in supporting the Pray and A.C.T. group created by dominionist Lou Engle in advance of the 2010 elections.
In 2008 Becket ran a full-page ad in the New York Times charging that anti-Prop 8 protesters were “thugs” engaged in a “religious war” of violence and intimidation against the Mormon church; founder Kevin “Seamus” Hasson responded to criticism with a comparison of “radical secularist” Prop 8 protestors to radical Islamist terrorists.
Winners of Becket’s Canterbury Medal over the past decade include Robert George; ultraconservative Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who has waged what a local columnist called a “war on Obama” over the HHS mandate; Eric Mataxas, the author whose 2012 prayer breakfast speech delighted right-wing activists with its thinly veiled attacks on President Obama’s faith; and Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, a strong defender of the LDS Church’s anti-equality efforts.
One more quibble with the Politico story: its headline – “God’s Rottweilers” – does give a sense of the group’s intensity, but it also implies that Becket is working for God. Media coverage all too often portrays culture war issues as a struggle between religious people and “radical secularists” when in fact there are also many religious individuals and organizations actively opposed to the Religious Right’s agendas on LGBT equality, women’s access to reproductive care, and the relationship between church and state.
On Saturday, a group of Religious Right activists at the Values Voter Summit were pitched on the possibility and necessity of a stronger union between social conservatives and libertarians, a discussion that was heavily tinged with the rhetoric of anti-Christian persecution that dominated the weekened.
In a panel titled “Moral Decline Causes Big Government,” the American Principles Project’s Maggie Gallagher (formerly of the National Organization for Marriage), the director of Rand Paul’s PAC, Doug Stafford, and conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway made their best case for libertarians to adopt social conservative causes — or, given the makeup of the crowd, for social conservatives to be open to an alliance with libertarian conservatives.
Gallagher brought up the Religious Right’s fears about the persecution of conservative Christians by the LGBT rights movement, warning that with the current Supreme Court she was “not optimistic” about preventing marriage equality from becoming law in all 50 states, and that if that happens, there will be “more cases where people are being oppressed…for their views on marriage.”
Libertarians, Gallagher said, should share the concern of social conservatives about gay rights advocates “using the government to impose this new, strange sexual orthodoxy” and their fears of “the horrible things the left is going to do.” She warned that the window for a stronger alliance was narrow, because if LGBT rights advocates succeed, “there’s not a way to build a winning conservative coalition.”
She also made an ideological case for libertarians to join social conservatives, arguing that “the decline of marriage” caused the growth of “pretty much every part of government, besides the defense budget, in America.”
“When the family falls apart, the government grows to step in,” she said.
Conway told the crowd that “values voters and libertarians have a great deal in common” from opposition to “big government” and abortion rights to being “sick of lawyers in black robes making stuff up” to a refusal to “redefine” family to be “whatever feels cool.” She also saw an opening to win over libertarians with the Religious Right’s increasing reliance on persecution rhetoric, or what she called the “assault on religious liberty in so many parts of our culture.”
Stafford echoed Conway, explaining that many libertarians oppose abortion rights and putting in a plug for the two groups to work together and with liberals to end the drug war.
Whatever the few libertarians in the room might have thought of the panel’s appeals, however, the bulk of the social conservative crowd seemed deeply skeptical of any attempt to woo libertarians. The biggest round of applause at the event came when a man came to the microphone, introduced himself as a pastor and proceeded to deliver a soliloquy against such “sins” as homosexuality. In an apparent jab at Sen. Paul’s position that marriage equality legislation should be left to the states, the pastor said, “Don’t let the states decide on marriage. God has already decided!”
As the panel ended, after little discussion of the morality of same-sex marriage, the woman next to me turned to me and shook her head. The panelists, she said, “didn’t listen to a thing that pastor said.”
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios broadcasted her radio show live from the Values Voter Summit this morning, and her very first guest was Family Research Council president and VVS host Tony Perkins. (The American Family Association is also a major sponsor of the event.)
The two got things started by talking about Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was imprisoned for refusing to convert to Islam, who will be speaking at the summit tomorrow. Perkins, of course, quickly compared Ibrahim’s plight to the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America, telling Rios that the story provides a good example to American “Christians who are so quick to go silent on their faith because of the intimidation and the bullying of the left.”
“We’re not backing up, we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to stand and defend our rights as Americans and we’re going to speak the truth,” he said. “We’ll speak it in love but we’re going to speak the truth.”
Later in the program, the two defined what the “values” in Values Voter Summit means.
“You know, when we say ‘VVS,’ the ‘values’ does mean values,” Perkins said.
“Not the ones the president describes, this redefinition of, what, multicultural, diversity, fairness, whatever. Those are not American values,” Rios replied.
“Those are the values that lead to a global nondescript society,” Perkins agreed. “That is not what made America an exceptional nation. It is those Judeo-Christian values that made the West distinct from the East.”