Equality For All

PFAW Foundation Statement on Police Killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling

In response to the police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling this week, People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“On behalf of the staff and board of People For the American Way Foundation, we offer our sincerest condolences to the families and loved ones of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We are committed to being in solidarity with them and all people who are systematically targeted. It is unacceptable that we live in a world where an African American is shot and killed when pulled over for a broken tail light, as Philando Castile was last night, or another is shot and killed while working to provide for his family, as Alton Sterling was on Tuesday.

“This year alone, at least 136 African Americans have been killed at the hands of the police. This violence cannot be allowed to continue. Police brutality and systemic racism must be eradicated.

“It’s up to every one of us to fight for a world and a society where Black lives matter. Far too many people in our country are systemically targeted, demonized, and forced to fear for their own safety and that of their families. We must fight for a very different future. We have to hold our elected and appointed officials, as well as police officers, accountable for excessive use of force that all too often targets people of color.”

People For the American Way Foundation is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.


Laurie Higgins: 'Obama Dishonors National Park Service' With Stonewall Memorial

The Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins is not pleased with President Obama’s recent designation of a national monument commemorating the Stonewall uprising, writing today that the recognition of the gay rights turning point “dishonors” the National Park Service and promotes “the celebration of wickedness.”

“Was Obama’s unseemly act a proclamation of social and political liberation from unjust oppression,” she asks, “or was it the ordination of a gnostic/neopagan monument to the unyoking of sex from truth?”:

Obama Dishonors National Park Service

… During this centennial year, President Barack Obama has decided that what the world needs now is a national park dedicated to sexual deviance. In his unbiblical belief that homoeroticism is something to be publicly celebrated, on June 24 President Obama proclaimed that the 1969 Stonewall riot that took place outside a seedy homosexual bar in NYC and which officially marks the start of the social and political revolution to normalize sexual deviance should be commemorated[.] …

This proclamation follows as expectedly as dark night follows day from a president who has defaced the White House in the garish and misappropriated colors of the rainbow to honor the destruction of marriage by the five Supreme Court justices. About this defacement, Obama was pleased to say “how good the White House looked in rainbow colors.”

The rainbow, the symbol of God’s promise never to destroy the world for our iniquities, is now the appropriated symbol of the celebration of iniquity. The rainbow has been purloined by the perverse to represent the wholesale rejection of God’s order for maleness, femaleness, sex, and marriage. And our president, who claims to be a follower of Christ, not merely shares in the celebration of wickedness but uses the office established by God-fearing men to promote it.

Does Obama know something St. Paul did not, because while Obama celebrates faux-marriage, the creation of intentionally motherless and fatherless children, and riots in support of body- and soul-destroying sexual acts, St. Paul warns of the eternal consequences of homoeroticism:

“The men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).

“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Was Obama’s unseemly act a proclamation of social and political liberation from unjust oppression, or was it the ordination of a gnostic/neopagan monument to the unyoking of sex from truth?


The Fisher Decision Was a Victory for Equality of Opportunity

Last month the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in a case about equal educational opportunity for all people, regardless of their race. In a 4-3 decision, the Court upheld the University of Texas’s diversity admission policies, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion. Justice Kennedy remarked that “courts must give universities substantial but not total leeway in designing their admissions program.”

Some backstory on the case: in 2008, Abigail Fisher applied to the University of Texas-Austin undergraduate program and was denied admission. Fisher, who is white, filed a lawsuit against the university claiming that she was denied admission based on her race. In 2014, the conservative Fifth Circuit Court affirmed the District Court’s decision in the case, in which it sided with the University of Texas. Fisher then filed a petition to the Supreme Court to hear the case, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments for the case in 2015.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Fisher v. University of Texas case was a crucial victory for racial justice in America. The Supreme Court upheld the right of the University of Texas to use race as part of the admissions policy for prospective students. The decision not only reflected the need for equality of opportunity for all people, it was also a step toward addressing the deep-seated racism that unfortunately is still present in our society. As PFAW Foundation president Michael Keegan put it: “From universities to the workplace, diversity policies are among the many needed programs to combat structural racism and strive towards equal opportunity for every American.”   


PFAW Foundation Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

In a 4-3 decision today, the Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas at Austin’s equal opportunity admissions policy.

“The Court’s Fisher decision today is an important win for the Constitution, for students, and for all Americans,” said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way Foundation. “By upholding the admissions policy at the University of Texas, the Court made clear that programs designed to further equal opportunity serve a critical role in addressing the racism that continues to permeate our country. Students from all backgrounds deserve a fair shot in our education system.

“From universities to the workplace, diversity policies are among the many needed programs to combat structural racism and strive towards equal opportunity for every American.”

People For the American Way Foundation is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.


The 2016 Election and the Economic War on Women

After President Obama’s decisive reelection in 2012, the Republican National Committee commissioned an “autopsy report” to examine how the party could perform better among demographic groups that had overwhelmingly rejected Republicans that year. One of the groups the RNC was concerned about was women, many of whom had become alienated by the GOP’s “war on women,” a steady crusade of regressive policies paired with mind-bogglingly insensitive and out-of-touch remarks.

That project hasn’t exactly been a success. GOP-led state legislatures have continued their assault on safe and legal abortion, enacting 288 abortion restrictions in the past five years, more than a quarter of all of those enacted since Roe v. Wade. And some have considered drastic anti-abortion measures like a bill passed in Oklahoma that would have made providing an abortion a felony and so-called “personhood” measures that would ban all abortion and even threaten legal birth control that were considered in several states this year.

Further cementing the GOP’s continued problem with women voters is the success of Donald Trump, who is now the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Not only does Trump have a long history of making insulting and dehumanizing comments about women, he has suggested that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, conceding that if abortion is recriminalized, as he would like, some women will be forced into the back alleys to obtain the procedure.

But the GOP’s war on women goes far beyond Trump and beyond the contentious issue of abortion rights. The party has shown few signs of relenting on key policy proposals that affect women’s economic freedom.

Paid family and sick leave, fair wages, access to child care, and the ability of women to start families without facing discrimination in the workplace are matters that affect millions of women every day.

These are causes that should unite those who identify as “pro-life” and those who call themselves “pro-choice.”

The right to reproductive freedom includes the right to choose to have a child without risking your livelihood or your economic future. And, while women should be free to obtain a safe and legal abortion for any reason, a truly “pro-life” approach would alleviate the economic risks around childbearing rather than putting women at risk by criminalizing abortion. As a 2005 study by the Guttmacher Institute found, three-quarters of women who sought abortions cited economic concerns or the pressures of work, school and caring for dependents.

What’s more, these policies are broadly popular with the American public. A 2015 poll found that 81 percent of voters, including 65 percent of Republicans, agreed that “workplace rules to ensure equal pay, paid time off to care for family members and affordable child care ‘is good for our nation.’”

Candidates running in both parties for all levels of office — especially those who identify as “pro-life” — should be asked where they stand on efforts to give women a true choice in their futures.


Paid Family Leave & Sick Leave

The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave for new mothers. In fact, when the International Labor Organization looked at maternity leave policies in 188 countries, just the U.S. and Papua New Guinea lacked such a policy.

This means that even as companies like Google and Facebook earn headlines as they attempt to woo highly educated, high-earning men and women with offers of more and more generous parental leave, millions of parents are left behind. According to the Department of Labor, just “12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer.” Public sector employees don’t fare much better. According to 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only 18 percent of state government employees and 15 percent of local government employees had access to paid family leave.

Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires many employers to offer new parents an option to take unpaid leave without risking their jobs, as the Labor Department notes, “Too many workers still cannot afford to take unpaid leave because of the loss of income it entails, or have to cut their leave short because of financial or workplace pressures.” A 2015 analysis of a 2012 Labor Department survey found that nearly one in four women returned to work within two weeks of giving birth; while 80 percent of women with college degrees were able to take at least six weeks of maternity leave, only 54 percent of those without college degrees did so.

Five states have enacted their own paid family leave laws, although two have yet to take effect, and five have paid sick leave requirements, one of which is set to take effect next year. One study of California’s family leave law, which was implemented in 2004, found that “87 percent of employers surveyed noted that family leave did not result in any cost increases, and about 9 percent of employers noted that the program had generated cost savings due to coordination of their own benefits with the family leave program and reduced employee turnover.”

Even as municipalities across the country work to enact their own paid parental and sick leave laws, a countertrend has emerged among states with conservative leadership, which have begun passing “preemption” laws blocking localities from guaranteeing paid leave.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, this strategy “first appeared in 2011 in Wisconsin, where the state legislature passed, and Governor Scott Walker signed, legislation to effectively void a Milwaukee paid sick days measure that passed in 2008 with the approval of nearly 70 percent of voters.” Behind that bill was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive group that helps corporate interests feed policy to legislators. The National Restaurant Association and a local chapter of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also lobbied for the bill. ALEC and the Restaurant Association then helped to push preemption laws to at 16 other states, with even more states considering similar legislation this year.

The American Prospect notes that “The National Federation of Independent [Business], a Washington-based group that has received large donations from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers’ American Prosperity Foundation (yet calls itself the ‘voice of small business’), has waged campaigns against at least 21 paid-sick-leave bills, issuing local reports with high estimates of the cost to businesses.”

Efforts to strengthen federal family and sick leave protections have also met resistance.

The Healthy Families Act, a bill that would allow “workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn up to seven job-protected paid sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child’s health condition or disability,” has failed to become law in the more than a decade that it has been proposed. In 2015, a filibuster-proof majority of the Senate, including 14 Republicans, approved a largely symbolic budget amendment backing a similar plan, showing a possible path forward. Unfortunately, the already nonbinding language was watered down further before a final budget was passed by Congress.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has introduced a bill called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) that would provide eligible workers with up to 12 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds of their wages “for a personal or family member’s medical emergency, including those arising from service members’ deployment, or to care for a newborn or adopted baby.” The leave would be funded by a small payroll tax, split evenly between employees and employers, which the National Partnership calculates would come out to about $1.50 per worker per week.

Both candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination support expanding family leave; Sen. Bernie Sanders supports the Gillibrand bill while Hillary Clinton has proposed a similar plan with a different funding mechanism.

In 2015, President Obama ordered federal agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave to their employees to care for a new child and urged Congress to pass legislation granting federal employees an additional six weeks of paid administrative leave after a birth or adoption. Before the president took action, the federal government offered no specifically designated paid family leave, a situation that New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney has called “embarrassing.” Maloney’s Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act, which would grant six weeks of paid family leave to federal employees, passed the House in 2009 with the support of most Democrats and 24 Republicans but was not acted on in the Senate. The bill has gone nowhere since Republicans gained control of the House.

Trump has signaled his resistance to federal paid family leave protections, calling pregnancy an “inconvenience” to businesses and saying that “there are a lot of people discussing it” but “we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.” Trump’s closest competitor in the GOP presidential race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said of paid family leave: “I think maternity leave and paternity leave are wonderful things. I support them personally. But I don’t think the federal government should be in the business of mandating them.” 

House Speaker Paul Ryan has taken a similar tone, speaking frequently about the importance of spending time with his family but saying that doesn’t translate into support for a paid family leave law: “I don’t think that sticking up for being a person with balance in your life, for wanting to spend your weekends in your home with your family… I don’t think that means signing up for some new unfunded mandate.”

One 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, did technically propose a paid family leave plan. However, his plan to offer tax credits to companies that provide leave rather than requiring it would have exacerbated the inequalities that already exist in family leave policies.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has said that expanding paid family leave will “reduce” Americans’ “freedoms.”

The National Federation of Independent Business, a Koch-funded group, has come out against expanded leave requirements. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the behemoth lobbying group that claims to represent American business interests as a whole but is instead largely funded by a handful of companies, lists as policy priorities opposing efforts to “make FMLA leave paid or to mandate paid sick leave.” This stance, however, runs against the priorities of many business executives, who, according to leaked documents from a conservative polling firm, overwhelmingly support increasing paid parental leave and requiring paid sick leave. Sixty-three percent of those polled were members of local, state or federal chambers of commerce.


Equal Pay

According to the latest data from the American Association of University Women, women who work full time, year round still earn just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gap that is even worse for Latina and African American women. Gaps persist even among those with equal educational attainment and those working in the same industry.  Childbirth can exacerbate the gap: One 2014 study found that while men’s earnings increased when they had children, women saw their pay drop.

The National Partnership for Women and Families notes that “mothers are primary or sole breadwinners in more than 40 percent of families, and about 31 percent of female-headed households have incomes that fall below the poverty level.”

Trump has said that the solution to the pay gap is for women to “do as good a job” as men. One of Trump’s prominent supporters, anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly, has claimed that “the pay gap, really, is something that women like” because women “like to marry a man who makes more than she does.”

From 2011 to 2014, Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act four times. The act, which Clinton and Sanders both support, would eliminate loopholes in and add enforcement tools to the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

Threats to equal pay go beyond legislative inaction. In 2008, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, a longtime employee of a Goodyear Tire plant who found out late in her career that she had been being paid less than her male colleagues for decades. After a jury awarded Ledbetter the back pay she had earned, Goodyear appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Ledbetter had run out the statute of limitations for filing suit before she had even known that she had been the victim of discrimination. The Ledbetter decision was remedied in 2009 when President Obama signed a bill, passed over Republican opposition, that clarified the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims.

The case highlights the importance of the court system in ensuring economic justice for women. The opinion in the Ledbetter case was written by George W. Bush appointee Justice Samuel Alito, whose ultra-conservative ideology is similar to many of the judges whom Trump has said he would consider elevating to the Supreme Court and those he would be likely to nominate to lower federal courts.

As the courts continue to determine the limits of workplace protections for women including, recently, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is important to have courts that will give fair consideration to working people, including women.


Minimum wage

The National Women’s Law Center calculates that women make up “nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers and two-thirds of tipped workers.”  According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would result in a raise for 27 percent of working moms and 40 percent of single moms.

The National Women’s Law Center calculates, “A woman working full time at minimum wage earns just $14,500 annually, more than $4,500 below the poverty line for a mother with two children.”

What’s more, the Law Center has found that states with higher minimum wages also have lower gender pay gaps. An Economic Policy Institute study found that in states that increased their minimum wage in 2015 (either by legislation or a scheduled index increase), wages grew faster for low-wage workers as a whole.

The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was 2009, when it was bumped to $7.25 an hour; the tipped minimum wage has remained at $2.13 per hour since 1991. Periodic increases in the minimum wage have failed to keep up with inflation; in fact, adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968.

President Obama backs a plan in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Clinton also backs raising the federal minimum wage to $12  and has supported some state and local efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15; Sanders has called for a $15 federal minimum wage.

Both of these plans would phase out the tipped minimum wage so that all workers are entitled to the same minimum wage before tips. The National Women’s Law Center has found that eliminating the tipped minimum wage narrows the wage gap and lowers poverty rates for women working full time jobs. According to a study by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “Women living off tips in states with a $2.13 an hour tipped minimum wage are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment than women in states that pay the full minimum wage to all workers.”

Donald Trump, meanwhile, said last year that not only would he not raise the minimum wage, but that American wages are “too high.” He later seemed to express openness to a minimum wage hike, only to clarify that he meant that the matter should be left to the states.

Many states and localities have indeed stepped in to fill the gap left by federal inaction on the minimum wage: 29 states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wages above the federal minimum and the National Employment Law Project counts dozens of municipalities with their own minimum wages, 18 of which have been passed in 2015 and 2016 alone. Still, this leaves 21 states, including a swath across the Deep South, that still rely on the baseline federal minimum wage.

A backlash against the recent wave of municipal minimum wage laws has come in the form of “preemption” bills similar to those used to stop sick leave protections, which prevent municipalities in a given state from enacting their own minimum wage protections. As of March, 19 states had enacted these laws, which have been promoted by ALEC and sometimes copied verbatim from ALEC model legislation. One such law recently enacted in Alabama was targeted at undoing a Birmingham ordinance that hiked the city’s minimum wage to $10.10.

At the federal level, resistance to minimum wage increases is led in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which says one of its policy priorities is to “oppose efforts to increase the minimum wage and to index the minimum wage to inflation or any other factor that will automatically increase labor costs.” Like with paid family and sick leave, the Chamber is out of step with many business leaders on the minimum wage issue: the leaked poll of executives found that 80 percent supported a minimum wage increase and just eight percent opposed it.

Another major player in the efforts to oppose minimum wage hikes, including a long-overdue increase in the tipped minimum wage, is the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group for the restaurant and food service industry which, according to Pew, is “the single biggest employer of near-minimum-wage workers.” Women make up 52 percent of restaurant employees and 66 percent of tipped restaurant workers. According to a 2014 report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, “The median wage for tipped workers hovers around $9 an hour including tips.”

The Restaurant Association has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing minimum wage increases at the state and federal level. The group spent $4.25 million lobbying at the federal level just last year. The Restaurant Association’s PAC has already contributed more than $400,000 to federal candidates this election cycle, the bulk of it to Republicans.

Corporate Accountability International notes that many candidates get additional contributions from major corporate members of the Restaurant Association. It’s these powerful transnational corporations like McDonald’s and Darden Restaurants — not small mom-and-pop businesses — that are “the driving force behind the [National Restaurant Association’s] policy agenda,” the watchdog group says.


Affordable Child Care

According to a 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute, average child care costs exceed 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s income in every state. Child Care Aware has found that in 2014 in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the cost of center-based care for an infant was more than the in-state tuition at a public college. The group found that “In all regions of the United States, average child care fees for an infant in a child care center are more than the average amount that families spend on food.”

Clinton has proposed capping child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income using a combination of tax credits and subsidized care, while Sanders has called for greatly expanded investments in child care. Trump, meanwhile, has suggested leaving child care to the whims of employers, saying that it’s “not expensive” for businesses to provide on-site child care for employees — even though only seven percent of employers currently provide on-site or nearby child care. Trump responded to one question about child care affordability by saying “I love children,” before telling his female questioner, “It’s a big subject, darling.” Trump revealed his lack of personal experience in this area in 2005 when he said that he doesn’t “do anything to take care of” his children, adding that men who participate in child care are acting “like the wife.”

As the American Prospect noted last year, “American child care policy has faced two uphill battles: opposition by economic conservatives to increased public spending and opposition by social conservatives to government policies they see as disadvantaging families with stay-at-home mothers.”

However, in recent years there has been some bipartisan progress made toward expanding access to affordable child care. In 2014, the Senate passed 97-1 and the House passed by voice vote legislation reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides federal funding (matched by state contributions) to states to help low-income families afford child care and improve the quality of care. The reauthorization increases health and safety requirements for child care, encourages greater improvements to the quality of care, and aims to make it easier for families to get and keep child care assistance. (Unfortunately, Congress has not provided the significant new funding necessary to cover the increased costs entailed in meeting the law’s requirements.) When President Obama proposed expanding the child care tax credit in his State of the Union speech the next year, then-House Speaker John Boehner seemed receptive to the idea, saying that it was “certainly something we’d look at.”

Measures that give all women and families a true choice in shaping their futures should appeal to Republicans and Democrats, pro-choicers and pro-lifers. These are a few places to start.


Major players working to stop women’s economic freedom measures

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

As People For the American Way wrote in a report on ALEC, the organization “is a one-stop shop for corporations looking to identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get special-interest legislation introduced.” Corporations pay dues to the organization and earn the privilege to meet with state legislatures and present them with corporate-friendly model legislation.

ALEC bills that have spread across conservative state legislatures have included voter ID restrictions, tax cuts for the wealthy, attempts to undercut the Affordable Care Act, and so-called “right to work” laws that are meant to weaken labor unions.

ALEC has also been behind the push, discussed in this report, to pass state “preemption” laws preventing localities from enacting their own paid sick leave and minimum wage standards.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a behemoth lobbying group that, while claiming to represent the interests of American businesses as a whole, is sometimes at odds with its local chapters and its individual members.

The Chamber is one of the largest spenders in U.S. elections. In the 2014 election cycle, the group spent more than $35 million in independent expenditures, mostly on behalf of Republican candidates. Already in 2016, the Chamber has spent $13 million in independent expenditures — again, mostly on behalf of Republicans. The Chamber also spends an enormous amount of money lobbying Congress and federal agencies, $124 million in 2014 and $84 million in 2015.

While the Chamber says it represents members ranging “from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations,” in reality much of its funding comes from large corporate interests and political groups. An Open Secrets analysis has found multimillion dollar contributions to the Chamber from Freedom Partners, the main group through which the billionaire Koch brothers funnel their considerable political spending, and Crossroads GPS, a political group started by former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove. In fact, half of the money that the Chamber took in in 2012 came from just 64 large donors.

The Chamber is an ever-present force in efforts to stop paid family leave and sick leave and raising the minimum wage, all of which it lists as among its 2016 policy priorities. The group also opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act and it opposed the bill undoing the Ledbetter decision.

National Restaurant Association (NRA)

Known as “the other NRA,” the National Restaurant Association is a lobbying group funded by some of the largest U.S. restaurant chains that has worked to fight restaurant regulations including menu labeling requirements and guidelines on marketing junk food to kids. The Restaurant Association has been a leading opponent of minimum wage hikes across the country, along with opposing paid sick leave legislation and working to limit the scope of the Affordable Care Act. In one extreme example, the group spent $100,000 to defeat a paid sick leave ballot measure in Denver. The Restaurant Association has worked with ALEC to push for state “preemption” laws that prevent municipalities from enacting their own minimum wage and paid sick leave laws.

So far this year, the Restaurant Association has spent $1.5 million on federal lobbying and its PAC has contributed $400,000 to federal candidates, 87 percent of it to Republicans. This is on top of hefty contributions from some of the association’s largest members.

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

While the NFIB describes itself as “the voice of small business,” it has received millions of dollars “in secret contributions from groups associated with Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers” according to the Huffington Post, and uses the vast majority of its political spending to back Republican candidates.

As Mother Jones noted in 2012, “few among the legions of small business owners that [NFIB] represents will benefit from its lobbying,” which has skewed toward the priorities of the ultra-rich, including opposing tax hikes on the wealthy. NFIB has fought to stop drinking water protections and climate change action and was the lead plaintiff in NFIB v. Sebelius, a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The NFIB has used its status as the supposed “voice of small business” to oppose paid family leave and sick leave policies and minimum wage increases.

Trump's 'Christian Policy Liaison' Ready To Be Thrown In A Furnace In Protest Of LGBT Equality

While Donald Trump has been laughably trying to claim that he is the real champion of LGBT rights in the presidential race, just this week the man who he has recruited to help him build bridges with the Religious Right said that Christians must be willing to face death fighting Obama administration guidelines on transgender rights in schools.

Televangelist Frank Amedia, a volunteer “Christian policy liaison” for Trump who arranged a recent meeting for the candidate with conservative Christian leaders, addressed the transgender guidelines on the most recent episode of his Daystar program “Deep Calls to Deep.”

Amedia has said that Trump was “raised up” by God as part of a “breaker anointing” that is breaking down “established norms” in preparation for the return of Christ. He returned to this theme on the program, saying that this “breaker anointing” is “happening everywhere,” including politics, science and the schools.

This led him to the president’s “decree” on transgender students, which he likened to a story in the book of Daniel in which King Nebuchadnezzar demands that all local officials worship a huge gold statue of himself or be thrown into a furnace. Three Jews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to do so and are thrown into the furnace, but are unharmed thanks to the protection of God.

“I liken it to the same decree that happened to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in their day, and it said, ‘You will bow down to this false god and if you don’t, I will destroy you,’” Amedia said. “Well, what this decree said to our schools is, ‘You will bow down to the fact that we don’t care anymore about gender and if you don’t, we’re going to take your money from you.’ It’s no different, beloved. It was done with the stroke of a pen.”

“We will not tolerate this,” he added. “We will not stand for it. You may be persecuted, you may be punished, and some of you who are educators, wherever you are, you may have to pay a price. Well, what about the price that you’re going to pay if you don’t stand up to it. So we need to say ‘No more.’ We need to be a people of God that’s strong. We need the people that have the Daniel spirit inside of us and we say, ‘We’re not going to tolerate it, we’re not going to stand for it, and we don’t care what you wrote, we don’t care if you put us in a furnace, we’re going in, because our God shall take care of us.”

Sam Rohrer Ties Orlando Massacre To Gay Rights Victories: God Has 'Removed His Hand Of Protection'

American Pastors Network president and former Pennsylvania lawmaker Sam Rohrer linked Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando to Supreme Court decisions securing rights for LGBT people, telling conservative talk radio host Steve Deace this week that Supreme Court decisions involving marriage equality and “God’s order for human sexuality” have helped to cause God to remove “His hand of protection” from the country.

Rohrer told Deace that he has a “great deal of compassion for those who are involved” in the shooting and also believes that “these kind of events are only going to be increasing” for a number of reasons, including that “the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood folks, they have made it clear that they’re going to do that”; that “our president and those in office are soft, refuse to even identify the enemy ideology of Islam as the enemy”; and, finally, “it’s a large part because I believe God has removed his hand of blessing on this country because we’ve turned our back upon him, and when he removes his hand of protection, these kinds of things come forth.”

“God has made very clear,” Rohrer explained, “that every nation that He has established — and He establishes all nations, we’re told that all nations are established by God, even the very geographical boundaries of the nations are determined — that when a nation, any nation, does what God says, meaning that they fear Him, that they uphold and enforce God’s moral law and God’s design for the family and for the family and for civil government, all of those are His, when those things are done, then God will bless a nation.”

“One of those blessings are the increase of wealth, one of those things is a security and protection from the neighbors around them,” he continued, “even the enemies will be at peace with them, we’re told in a number of places in Scripture. But when a nation backs off of that, particularly a nation such as ours that has a very biblical basis in an understanding of biblical principles — that’s where our Constitution came from, Declaration of Independence before that came out of that. When those things were there and put in place, when a nation turns their back on those things as we have and [are] increasingly, arrogantly doing, then at that point the justice of God says ‘I cannot any longer bless’ and these things which you’re doing will lead to not His lack of blessing, but insecurity and so forth.”

Deace returned to the theme later in the interview, saying that America’s current standing with God is “essentially like when a parent has an unruly child that persists in a behavior or an addiction that is destructive and has tried repeatedly to reach them, has tried repeatedly to intervene, they will not listen, and so they reach a point where you essentially have to allow them to hit rock bottom on their own in order to get the message and just kind of pray that they don’t kill themselves in that process.”

Rohrer agreed that this was a “fairly accurate representation” of what is going on and outlined a number of ways that he believes that Americans have “turned their back on” God, including marriage equality and a redefinition of “God’s order for human sexuality.”

“You know,” he said, “God has established, and made it very, very clear, that He’s established the family, He’s established the church, He’s established the institution of civil government … But when a nation, when a family, when the church fails to employ, fails to do and, even worse, turns their back on God’s moral law and His design, there is nothing but difficulty and trouble that comes and follows from that.”

“And, unfortunately, as a nation, we’ve once known God,” he said, “‘In God we trust’ is our motto. But … Congress wouldn’t even pass that motto now, they wouldn’t even bring it up and the president wouldn’t sign it. And our courts declare to be immoral what is moral, we redefine God’s institution of marriage, we redefine God’s order for human sexuality and we expect God to sit back and continue to bless? He can’t.”

Money in Politics: a Barrier to Civil Rights Progress in the 21st Century

Panelists at the conference “Money in Politics: A Barrier to a 21st Century Civil Rights Agenda?” on Thursday last week, including PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker, held an important conversation about how big money in politics today is impeding crucial civil rights progress. Baker was joined on the panel — which was moderated by The American Prospect’s Eliza Newlin Carney — by Rashad Robinson of ColorOfChange.org, Spencer Overton of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Janai Nelson of the NAACP, and Heather McGhee of DEMOS. Their dialogue explored the socioeconomic and racial implications of the way we fund elections, and how big money in politics serves as a barrier to a working and representative democracy in the United States. As the panelists made clear, in today’s political system, people of color, women, and low-income people often do not have an equal voice in our democracy.


Heather McGhee remarked that “the campaign finance system currently has inherent racial bias,” and noted that the money coming into our political system is overwhelmingly from wealthy white communities. Baker elaborated on this by discussing how many of the policies now in place are those favored by these wealthy interests, and highlighting the lack of adequate disclosure of political contributions as a barrier to organizing against these discriminatory policies. Robinson picked up that theme, discussing how the lack of timely disclosure becomes a barrier for activists trying to connect the dots between political contributions and political outcomes. Overton, who has direct experience with fundraising for campaigns, discussed the pressure to court super-rich donors who have the capacity to give massive sums, rather than reaching out to larger numbers of more modest donors. And Nelson tied money in politics reform to voting rights and outlined the need for a “deliberative democracy” that is responsive to the people.

As the panel drew to a close, panelists discussed how to address this issue moving forward. Baker made the point that currently there aren’t enough elected officials who are fighting for solutions to counteract big money in politics. McGhee reiterated that, despite a few notable exceptions, there has not been sufficient attention given to this issue from politicians serving in office.

It is time for a campaign finance system and a political system no longer run only by those with money and power. To achieve equitable public policies we need a fully representative democracy where all people, no matter their race or socioeconomic status, have an equal voice in the democracy, and that currently is simply not the case.


Matt Barber: Christians Must Take America Back From Demonic 'Islamo-Progressive Axis Of Evil'

At last week’s Road To Majority conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America, anti-gay pundit and Liberty University law school associate dean Matt Barber promoted his new book, “Hating Jesus: The American Left’s War on Christianity.”

Barber’s remarks were a typically toxic mix, portraying Christians in America as being under assault from the “secular left, so-called progressives, orthodox Islamists and other pagan traditions, as well as fanatical atheists and others.”

Mankind’s enduring culture war, this is something we did not start. It’s nothing new. It first began in a garden, long ago, and today has reached a fever pitch worldwide, and right here in America in our own backyard. The battle lines are drawn, not so much as between conservative and liberal, as many presume, but rather between biblical and unbiblical, between truth versus deception, and in its most distilled form, the culture war is really a worldly manifestation of an otherworldly battle between good and evil.

Barber admiringly quoted Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has equated “atheistic secularism” and Islamic fundamentalism with Nazism and communism, “almost like the beasts of the apocalypse.” These two movements, he said, have “the same demonic origin.”

Barber said the progressive left is overwhelmingly anti-Semitic and anti-conservative-Christian, and called President Obama an “apologist for radical Islam.” And he repeated the Religious Right’s charge that the LGBT equality movement is somehow allied with radical Islamic jihadists in a war against Christian civilization:

Liberals and Islamists seem to have forged a bizarre and notably incongruous partnership that I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil. You ever notice? It just defies logic that secular leftists will trip over themselves to make excuses for radical Islamists who, believe me, they’re coming for them too. The only explanation that I can see for this strange connection is best illustrated by the old adage, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And the common enemy, of course, is who? Christ Jesus. It is the person of Christ Jesus who is truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through him. He is the personification, the embodiment of truth, and so they align against him. And so, Christians in America, ladies and gentlemen, are under attack…

Is this George Washington’s America or is this Joseph Stalin’s Russia? It’s starting — the lines are becoming pretty blurred ... We American Christians are now struggling to maintain our fundamental constitutional freedoms, and are now living under the daily threat of legal, reputational and even physical abuse simply for exercising our faith. Now let me be clear here. We are moving from a soft persecution to a hard persecution here in the United States. Now we’re not being beheaded. No, we’re not being burned alive … but we need to be praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.  We are on that trajectory.

Like many speakers at Road to Majority, Barber denounced efforts to protect the ability of transgender people to use facilities appropriate for their gender identity, portraying the issue in apocalyptic terms:

There are wicked sacrileges being forced upon the American people today, things we couldn’t even imagine five years ago, by our own godless government in the name of so-called progress. Things like utterly evil and insane presidential edicts that open up little girls’ bathrooms and showers to grown men terrorizing themselves, violating their privacy and threatening their safety … Things like the sin-centric and oxymoronic notion of genderless marriage; forced taxpayer funding of child sacrifice and forced participation by Christ’s followers in all of the above sins, under penalty of law, to name but a few of these travesties that are being foisted upon us.

Amid the sprint to the election 2016, the secular left’s utter disdain for both Christ and his followers is reaching a fever pitch. Self-styled progressives, and that is America’s cultural Marxist agents of ruin … they typically disguise their designs on despotism in the flowery and euphemistic language of  and you have heard all of these  reproductive health, anti-discrimination, civil rights and their favorite, of course, multiculturalism. But their ultimate goal here is to silence all dissent and force Christians to conform to their pagan demand or, potentially, face even incarceration.

In addition, said Barber, the U.S. has become “a global force for evil” whose chief export is immorality.

On top of this, the United States has become, in many ways, a global force for evil. Once the moral authority of the world, our chief export now is immorality. We are evangelizing against Christianity as a government, official government policy, pushing radical homosexualism, pushing the transgender agenda worldwide, and using the power of the purse to blackmail countries, poor countries, into acquiescing and casting aside their Christian history and beliefs and embracing this evil …

And also like other speakers, Barber promoted the importance of electing Donald Trump to the White House without mentioning him by name, calling the upcoming election “absolutely critical” to the future of the nation. Christians are called to be salt to the culture, said Barber, and when the culture is an open wound, salt is going to burn. America is “ripe for revival,” he said. “We are going to burn people.”

We must fight back as Christians. It’s time to stop being nicer than Jesus … there is such a thing as righteous anger. We need to be angry because righteousness is being trampled and evil is being promoted to your children …

We can set this nation back on a path toward peace and prosperity and, most importantly, a deep love for God, both individually and, as our founding fathers intended, corporately. We can take America back for Christ, but we can only do it with and through Jesus Christ himself.


PFAW Statement on Orlando Shooting

In response to this morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“On behalf of all the members of People For the American Way, I want to express my deepest sympathy to all those affected by today’s shooting. The victims, their families and the entire Orlando LGBT community are in our thoughts.

“But our sympathies are not enough. This tragedy, the worst mass shooting in American history, is the result of a toxic brew of intolerance and easy access to firearms. Today is a heartbreaking reminder that despite decades of progress, anti-LGBT hatred and violence is still a deadly reality, and it’s crucial that we recommit ourselves to challenging bigotry in all its forms. It’s a reminder, too, that a nation awash in guns isn’t inevitable. It’s the result of policy choices driven by pro-gun extremists and enabled by politicians who refuse to stand up to them. Our elected leaders could take sensible steps to keep weapons of war away from those who would use them to murder innocent people. They’ve simply chosen not to.

“As we mourn the victims of this horrible tragedy, it would be inexcusable to ignore the steps we can take to prevent the next one.”


James Dobson: Trans-Inclusive Bathroom Policies Violate Levitical Prohibition On Prostituting Your Daughter

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson invited Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porters on to his “Family Talk” radio program this week to discuss transgender-inclusive facilities policies in schools and stores like Target, which Dobson said violate the Levitical prohibition against selling your daughter into prostitution.

“Let me share a Scripture with you all that I came across that speaks to this issue,” he said. “It’s addressed directly to parents, I think. It’s Leviticus 19:29. Listen to this: ‘Do not degrade your daughters by making them a prostitute or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.’ That comes right to the heart of this. It sort of feels like that’s where we are. We’re taking our little, vulnerable kids and we’re saying in the name of political correctness, ‘Here are our children. Do with them what you want.’ And I’m here to say that I’m going to fight that as long as I have breath in my body.”

He added that he was worried not only about children but also about his wife, Shirley, “being in a bathroom where some grungy guy comes in there and zips down the zipper and does things that she will remember the rest of her life.”

“I mean, where is manhood that we don’t stand up and defend our own families?” he asked. “And I think that we’re going to be responsible before the Lord if we don’t do it.”

Porter heartily agreed, saying that while some are staying out of the issue because they’re “afraid of being called a mean name,” it’s time for “men of courage” to “stand and fight.”

Dobson’s cohost, Meg Meeker, chimed in to say, “Woe to us who do not intervene on behalf of our kids, that’s all I can say.”

“They’re sitting ducks,” said Dobson.

Porter then invoked another Bible verse, the passage in Luke where Jesus tells his disciples that "it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”

“You know, the Bible says it’s better to have a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble,” she said. “And I think … that this applies not just to those in the schools that are doing this, those in the White House and the Target corporation, but I think it applies to parents. Because if you don’t vigilantly watch what they’re teaching your children, if you don’t stand now, school administrators, if you don’t stand now and fight this, then this verse, I believe, applies to you. Because these children are being led astray, they’re being harmed, they’re being violated and the only thing that can protect them is for those adults in authority to stand now and fight.”

Move Over, Putin: Scott Lively Has A New Anti-Gay Strongman-Crush

Like other Religious Right leaders, American globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively has long been a vocal supporter of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay policies. A few years ago Lively wrote Putin a gushing fan letter praising his “moral leadership” and “firm and unequivocal stand” against “the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality.” He even tucked in a copy of his infamous book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” saying he hoped that the U.S. and Russia would be able to cooperate in the future and “redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

But Putin is apparently no longer the only apple of Lively’s eye. On Monday, Lively posted a reflection about his latest authoritarian man-crush, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who Lively calls a modern hero of the Christian faith. Lively seems unconcerned about Orbán’s attacks on religious freedom.

Orbán makes no effort to hide his “illiberal” authoritarian nationalist vision. A year ago, in a Politico article titled “Europe’s New Dictator,” Colin Woodard wrote that Orbán’s “dictatorial tendencies” were laying “the course of a deepening tragedy at the heart of Europe with lasting implications for the west.” Woodard notes that Orbán and his party have purged the civil service, packed the courts with political loyalists, restricted freedom of the press, and rewritten the Constitution to give a sheen of legitimacy to all of his efforts. He’s also gone after government watchdog groups and other nonprofits.

Last fall, Foreign Policy’s James Traub published a series of articles on Hungary’s rightward shift, in which he labeled Orbán a “right-wing demagogue” and quoted an analyst saying that while Orbán is not religious, he “constantly invoked Hungary’s ‘Christian’ culture.”

Lively is particularly offended that former U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized recent anti-democratic trends in Poland and Hungary, “two countries that would not have been free but for the United States and the long Cold War.” Lively fumes:

First of all, it must be pointed out that Bill Clinton has absolutely no right to speak for the generation of Americans that liberated Europe because that generation, including its leaders, was Christian. The “democratic” values it fought to preserve and promote included quite prominently the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the natural family, and the concept of national sovereignty. The “democratic values” of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are abortion, homosexuality, and global socialism.

If by “democracy” Clinton means the will of the people versus government tyranny he is doubly discredited. The people of Hungary (and Poland and Russia) overwhelmingly support family values and oppose open borders, while the Clinton/Obama cabal are blatantly, tyrannically and lawlessly ignoring the will of the American public by ramming “gay marriage” and the LGBT agenda down our throats and inviting third world invaders to illegally flood across our southern border by the millions.

Under the Christian leadership of Prime Minister Orban, the Hungarian constitution was revised in 2011 to state that human life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one women. More recently, Mr. Orban had shown great courage in defying the European Union’s suicidal “open borders” policies, especially regarding the threat represented by Islamic “immigrants.”

If these Biblically consistent positions that the leaders of Hungary and Poland have taken on behalf of the majority of their citizens make them “Putin-like,” then perhaps the rest of the world should give Putin more respect in comparison to Clinton and Obama. If that’s what it means to be “Putin-like,” the intended condemnation is actually a compliment.

Lively encourages his readers to send Orbán “a note of support and thanks.”

The Movers Behind The Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Movement

This post originally appeared on Right Wing Watch.

In the first few months of this year, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures, many of them promoted under the banner of protecting religious liberty.  A new report by People For the American Way Foundation, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?,” explains that “it takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.”

The report makes clear that the wave of anti-equality legislation promoted in the name of religious liberty is not an outgrowth of local conflicts but the latest step in a long-term campaign by national Religious Right legal and political groups to resist legal equality for LGBT people. As Americans have come to know and embrace their LGBT family members and friends, harsh anti-gay rhetoric has become less effective, says the report, leading social conservatives to try to reclaim the moral and political high ground by reframing debates over marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections as questions of religious liberty.

These efforts are being promoted by “a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people,” notes the report, which profiles some of the leading organizations while noting that they “represent the tip of the iceberg of a much larger movement that is trying to eliminate legal access to abortion and roll back legal protections for LGBT people, couples, and families — and trying to do so in the name of religious liberty.”

The groups covered in the report include:

·         Family Research Council and FRC Action

·         Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action

·         National Organization for Marriage

·         Alliance Defending Freedom

·         Liberty Counsel

·         American Family Association

·         Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

·         American Principles Project

The report includes links to additional resources on the organizations behind the Right’s use of religious liberty as political strategy for resisting equality. 

PFAW Foundation

The Movers Behind The Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Movement

In the first few months of this year, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures, many of them promoted under the banner of protecting religious liberty.  A new report by People For the American Way Foundation, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?,” explains that “it takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.”

The report makes clear that the wave of anti-equality legislation promoted in the name of religious liberty is not an outgrowth of local conflicts but the latest step in a long-term campaign by national Religious Right legal and political groups to resist legal equality for LGBT people. As Americans have come to know and embrace their LGBT family members and friends, harsh anti-gay rhetoric has become less effective, says the report, leading social conservatives to try to reclaim the moral and political high ground by reframing debates over marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections as questions of religious liberty.

These efforts are being promoted by “a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people,” notes the report, which profiles some of the leading organizations while noting that they “represent the tip of the iceberg of a much larger movement that is trying to eliminate legal access to abortion and roll back legal protections for LGBT people, couples, and families — and trying to do so in the name of religious liberty.”

The groups covered in the report include:

·         Family Research Council and FRC Action

·         Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action

·         National Organization for Marriage

·         Alliance Defending Freedom

·         Liberty Counsel

·         American Family Association

·         Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

·         American Principles Project

The report includes links to additional resources on the organizations behind the Right’s use of religious liberty as political strategy for resisting equality. 

NOM's Brian Brown To Lead Global Anti-LGBT Efforts At World Congress Of Families

The National Organization for Marriage announced today that its president, Brian Brown, has been elected president of the World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations fighting LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

As Brown’s fight to stop marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile, he has taken a leading role in building international networks to stop the advance of LGBT rights around the world. Brown has worked with the World Congress of Families since at least 2013, when he fundraised for the group and, at their invitation, spoke in favor of anti-LGBT laws before the Russian parliament.

Brown attended 2014’s World Congress of Families in Russia (although the World Congress dropped its official sponsorship of the event under pressure after Russia invaded Ukraine), which ended with an appeal for more countries to adopt Russian-style bans on gay “propaganda.” According to NOM, Brown was elected to his new position atthe group’srecent conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In NOM’s press release, Brown laments that “secular leaders around the world have become obsessed with advancing so-called 'alternative' family structures,” asserting that in contrast “the natural family produces the best outcomes for society.” (The term “natural family” means something very specific to the World Congress.)

As well as turning his attentions to the global anti-LGBT movement, Brown has increasingly focused on fighting LGBT nondiscrimination measures at home, including getting fully onboard with the Religious Right’s transgender bathroom panic. American anti-LGBT activists seem to be setting the tone for the global movement with their insistence that policies preventing discrimination against LGBT people threaten religious freedom and with the related scapegoating of transgender people; one reporter at this month’s World Congress in Tbilisi noted that “every single speaker” mentioned a recent Obama administration directive on the equal treatment of transgender people in schools.

Trump-Aligned Pastor: Trans Rights Will Provoke 'The Judgment Of God'

Carl Gallups, a far-right pastor who has been embraced by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, spoke with Charlottesville, Virginia, radio host Rob Schilling on Friday about the Obama administration's recent directive on transgender rights in public schools, which he said was the sign of the impending End Times and a possible clue about something wrong in Obama’s “personal life.”

“For years I’ve been saying, ‘Look, look, we’re living in very prophetic times,’” Gallups said. “Israel is back in the land, Russia and China are in the Middle East, ISIS has exploded, Christianity is being exterminated, on and on down the list you can go … And so, now, we turn to what Jesus said in Luke 17. He said, ‘Look, in the very last days before my return, it’s going to be just like it was in the days of Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah, the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah will sweep the planet.’ And we’re watching that happen before our eyes.”

He said that “it’s not just Christians” who are upset about policies allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity because even “ultra-liberal people … don’t want their little six-year-old girl molested in the bathroom because some hairy guy decides he feels like a girl that day and follows their little pretty little girl into the bathroom under federal decree.”

“So, you’re right,” he told Schilling, “there’s a certain order, there are things, there are boundaries and borders [set up by God] that individuals may cross over them, little subcultures within cultures may cross over them and we kind of just say, ‘Well, to each his own.’ But if a culture crosses over these borders, if a society legalizes, celebrates, embraces these borders, then I think the judgment of God is right behind it.”

Earlier in the interview, Gallups speculated that there is “something” in Obama’s “personal life that would cause him to be absolutely fixated upon this sexual deviancy and this danger to our children and this perversion and insanity and this whole fixation upon this radical transgender movement.”

He hinted that this “something” might have to do with pornography, noting that the president’s official Twitter account, which is run by staffers at the Organizing for Action organization, has been found to follow some porn stars among the more than 636,000 accounts it follows.

“So, it’s demonic,” Gallups said, “and there obviously is a fixation upon this with the man in the White House now. I know there have been reports in the mainstream media that Obama follows pornography sites on his Twitter account, that’s been alleged in mainstream media. I just don’t know. But there’s got to be something there. And again, I’m just speculating on that end, but it is surreal, isn’t it, Rob?”

FRC And Focus On The Family's 'Scientific' Denial Of Transgender Identity

Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton spoke at the Family Research Council Monday on “The Scientific Objectivity and Universality of Gender Difference.” The context, explained in FRC’s promotion for the talk, was the Obama administration’s directive on transgender students’ access to facilities that match their gender identity — or, in FRC’s words, the administration’s “working to elevate the cause of these individuals who believe their observable, biological sex does not match their gender identity.”

In other words, FRC asked Stanton to validate the organization’s belief that there is no such thing as a transgender identity. FRC’s Peter Sprigg, who introduced Stanton, has written, “Virtually all people have a biological sex, identifiable at birth and immutable throughout life, which makes them either male or female. The transgender movement represents a denial of this physical reality.” It is the trans version of the Religious Right argument that there is no such thing as a gay identity, only a person who experiences “same-sex attraction.” Stanton has previously called homosexuality “a pernicious lie of Satan” and said “there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are.”

Stanton, whose education is in philosophy and religion, spent the better part of an hour making his case, drawing on a New Yorker cartoon as well as a series of books and scientific studies by socio-biologists, evolutionary psychologists, and “secular anthropologists” to argue that there is “a universal male and female nature.”

Stanton discussed books on differences between male and female brains, suggesting that the gender divide in Silicon Valley does not reflect sexism but the fact that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, while the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. Among other differences he said hold true across cultures: women smile more; women see danger where men see challenges; men are more interested in the world outside their village; women attempt suicide more often but men do so more violently and successfully.

But Stanton utterly failed to link all this to the conclusion that he and FRC are drawing about gender identity and public policy. In fact, the whole exercise left me thinking: So what? How would the existence of some predominant traits in men and women deny the reality of those whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside the norm? And how would it justify denial of humane treatment or legal equality?

It may be true that some traits predominate across cultures in men more than women. But that hardly makes them “universal.” There are male pacifists and female warriors; effective female executives and happy stay-at-home dads. Stanton acknowledged that there are many ways to be male — mentioning Clint Eastwood and Mr. Rogers. And, he said, some women can do “man things.” He cited Richard Simmons as someone who intentionally presents himself in a way that doesn’t clearly fit the “objective” way to be male and female. But he brushed all those aside, saying they do not challenge the universal binary norm.

Similarly, in response to a question about Native American cultures that recognized androgynous figures, and even considered them to play a sacred role, Stanton acknowledged the existence of such figures, such as the berdache, which he said have been “co-opted by the gay and lesbian community.” But he clearly could not make this reality fit his universalizing theory.

“Typically,” Stanton said, “that individual tends to be more of a she-male. It’s sort of, if you will, the Richard Simmons type, maybe the Mr. Rogers type, a man who is physically male, but he’s got clear kind of identities for the feminine. He’s — we would call, not in a nice way, in our culture, the Nancy boys, growing up.”

Furthermore, Stanton said, “They do not fit either in the male or the female category, but they are a mix of the two.” But rather than admitting that such a figure undermines his thesis, he claimed that they somehow “prove the rule” because “we understand them based on the binary.”

If you are feeling justifiably skeptical of Glenn Stanton’s claims for the “scientific objectivity and universality” of his views on gender identity, you might read what the American Psychological Association says about transgender identity, or check out some of the many resources available for transgender people and their allies. 

Lafferty: Target & Hershey Are Now 'Pedophile Magnets And Pervert Magnets'

Andrea Lafferty, the anti-LGBT crusader who runs the Traditional Values Coalition, visited “Breitbart News Daily” this morning, where she warned parents not to “let your young girls and teen girls buy their summer clothes or bathing suits at Target” because of the company’s transgender-inclusive facilities policy.

She added that Target and Hershey Park have now become “pedophile magnets and pervert magnets” because they allow people to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify.

Lafferty then suggested that customers go into Target and fill up their shopping carts, go to the register, and say “Uh, I’m not going to buy this. Look at how much money I would have spent.’”

Christian-Nation Advocates Rally To Support Roy Moore, Stop Gay Marriage From Destroying America

Supporters of Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama are planning to hold a rally on Saturday in defense of the judge, who has yet again been suspended by the state’s judicial inquiry committee, this time for attempting to defy federal court rulings on marriage equality.

A list of speakers hasn’t been released yet, but it will likely include John Eidsmoe, the Christian Reconstructionist scholar who works at the foundation that Moore founded, and Moore’s friend and former spokesman Dean Young, both of whom spoke last Thursday at a press conference where they announced plans for the event.

Speaking to reporters at the press conference, Young singled out Ambrosia Starling, a drag queen who’s a member of the coalition that filed a complaint against Moore and who has become an accidental celebrity since Moore claimed that she was leading the effort against him.

Young said that it’s a “travesty” that a “transvestite” was able to file a complaint against Moore when “these are the kind of people who want to come into the bathroom of your children, boy or girl.”

He then warned that marriage equality would destroy the country. “At the end of the day,” he said, “our civilization was founded on the Judeo-Christian values, and when you start saying that a man and a man can get married, you’re destroying the very foundation of this nation.”

Young compared “redefining marriage” to changing the measurements of a foot or an ounce.

“The entire foundations are destroyed when you start redefining words, and especially what marriage is, and that’s between a man and a woman,” he said.

Young praised Moore for being “the only one in this entire country that’s standing.”

“If they take Judge Moore down, they’re going to come after your pastors, they’re going to come after your businesses if you don’t make the kind of cake they want, they’re going to make you go out of business,” he warned. “If you don’t want to perform a wedding like that, you’re going to go out of business.”

He added that “this is either Valley Forge or the Alamo, I just don’t know which one.”

Young, who once said that if gay people “don't like the laws of Alabama…then maybe they need to go back to California or Vermont or wherever they came from," lost a Republican congressional primary in March.

Rusty Thomas, the radical anti-abortion activist who heads Operation Save America, has also announced that he’ll be speaking at the rally in support of Moore on Saturday. Thomas, who insists that terrorist attacks are God’s judgment for legal abortion, invoked both the Bible and a movie version of “Robin Hood” to declare that it is Moore who is following the law because the federal government is imposing “lawlessness.”

Thomas subscribes to a version of nullification that holds that “lesser magistrates” — state and local officials — must defy federal laws and court rulings that they believe violate divine law. The leading proponent of this theory is anti-abortion activist Matt Trewhella, one of the signers of a 1993 document supporting violence against abortion providers, who spoke alongside Thomas at a recent abortion “abolition” event in Arizona.

Thomas writes in a press release today that he hopes Moore’s example “will spread like wild fire to inspire governors, state legislators, sheriffs, and other lower magistrates to rise up with one voice to say no to the federal beast, place the chain back on our federal government, restore law and order, and reestablish the checks and balances necessary to secure a future and hope for our nation in Jesus' mighty name!”

The prophet Isaiah warned, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20). Our nation has long rejected Biblical truth and now we labor under a stupor of delusion. When good becomes evil, it should not be surprising that the good guys become the bad guys. The movie Robin Hood stated our current situation well, "In the days of lawlessness, those who keep the law become the outlaw."

Our federal government for decades has been codifying evil into law. In the name of new federal values, they are destroying Christian and family values. In the name of government, they betray their sacred trust as government. In the name of the Constitution, they violate the Constitution. Under the color of law, they impose lawlessness upon the citizens of America and upon the great state of Alabama.

Our federal government continues to make straight what God has called crooked, turn moral wrongs into civil rights, and demand that "We the People" tolerate the intolerable. In the midst of this tyranny and moral anarchy, God has raised up a champion, none other than Chief Justice Roy Moore.

As a Lesser Magistrate, Chief Justice Roy Moore, is standing in the gap between federal tyranny and the life, liberty, and property of the citizens of Alabama and our nation. It is my sincere prayer that his example will spread like wild fire to inspire governors, state legislators, sheriffs, and other lower magistrates to rise up with one voice to say no to the federal beast, place the chain back on our federal government, restore law and order, and reestablish the checks and balances necessary to secure a future and hope for our nation in Jesus' mighty name!

Update: Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, who heads the foundation that he founded, is also scheduled to address the rally.

Anti-Gay Activism Trumps Religious Freedom At UN 'Family' Event

Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.

Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.

In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.

One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”

At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”

During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”

Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”

The event also featured remarks from C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Human Life International’s Shenan Boquet, CitizenGo and HazteOir’s Gregory Mertz, the Institute for Family Policy’s Lola Volarde, and anti-marriage-equality activists Sherif Girgis and Helen Alvaré. Religious leaders who spoke included California pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Catholic Bishop John O’Hara of the Archdiocese of New York, who assured the group that they have Cardinal Dolan’s “enthusiastic support.”

A few highlights from other speakers:

  • Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
  • FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
  • Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
  • Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
  • Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
  • Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson. 

The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”

The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.

* UpdateHouse Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.

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