Equality For All

Tony Perkins: Gays 'Persecute' Christians By Making Them View Photos Of Gay People On Facebook

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins invited his colleague Peter Sprigg on to “Washington Watch” yesterday to discuss an Idaho state legislative committee’s decision not to include protections for LGBT people in a proposed nondiscrimination law.

Sprigg — who travelled to Idaho earlier this week to testify against the measure — celebrated the decision, saying that banning employment and housing discrimination against LGBT people “would increase the power of government to interfere with the operation of private businesses and private organizations” and would place the government in the position of “taking sides” on a “controversial issue.” (We weren’t aware that the FRC opposed the government taking sides on controversial issues!)

Sprigg said that what the Idaho legislature should really do is remain “morally neutral” in order for “the marketplace of ideas” to sort out whether or not it’s okay to discriminate against LGBT people, rather than making “a legal statement that it is morally wrong to disapprove of homosexual conduct and morally wrong to disapprove of people presenting themselves as the opposite of their biological sex.”

Later in the program, Perkins took a call from a listener who complained that he had seen a picture on Facebook of “two naked guys sitting on each other” and that when he complained about it to Facebook “in a nice, respectful, Christian way,” he was treated like “the biggest bigot out there.”

“I think we need to pray for them, maybe they’ll turn their lives around,” the caller said.

Perkins agreed that “Jesus said that we are to pray for our enemies, for those who persecute us, that would be those who mock and ridicule us, absolutely we should pray for them.”

Citing a mentally disturbed man who tried to stage an attack on FRC headquarters, Perkins contended that LGBT rights proponents are the real intolerant “haters” because they’re “projecting.”

“We’ve had them come into our building with guns, shooting, to try to kill us,” he said. “We harbor no bitterness in our hearts toward them, which is something they can’t understand. They want to project and that’s why they like to call us haters and so on and so forth, but they’re projecting.”

He added that he is very tolerant of gay people and doesn’t mind if they “live together, do whatever they want to do” as long as they don’t “redefine all of society for the rest of us.”

“I think more and more Americans are waking up because they’re seeing it,” he said. “This is being shoved into people’s faces, and if, like you, they say, 'I don’t want this on my Facebook page, I don’t want this, I don’t want to see this, look, do whatever you want to do but don’t involve me in that'  that’s not good enough, there’s this effort of forced acceptance and affirmation. And we just can’t do that.”

PFAW Calls On RNC To Cancel Hate Group-Funded Israel Trip

Today People For the American Way President Michael Keegan sent a letter to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), urging him to cancel a planned trip to Israel for roughly 60 RNC members that is organized by Christian-nation extremist David Lane and funded by the anti-LGBT hate group the American Family Association (AFA).

We’ve written quite a bit about the extremism of AFA and Lane, and the problems with the RNC associating with them.

The trip is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Keegan wrote [PDF]:

Although we have no objection to RNC members travelling to Israel, we urge you not to collaborate with those who are funding and coordinating this trip. The American Family Association and Mr. Lane have made it clear that they view the Republican Party as a vehicle for ensuring that the U.S. government is operated by and for conservative Christians, at the expense of those of other faiths and no faith, and those Christians who do not share their particular beliefs.

Mr. Lane insists that the separation of church and state is a “fabricated whopper” meant to stop “Christian America — the moral majority — from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media” and has said that his “long-term strategy” is to place the Bible as “the principle [sic] textbook” in American public schools. Mr. Lane has also warned that an openly gay speaker at President Obama’s inauguration would provoke God to allow car bombings in major American cities.

The American Family Association also holds troubling views about the role of religion in American government and regularly promotes false smears against LGBT people. Although the AFA recently sought to distance itself from its own inflammatory spokesman, Bryan Fischer, it continues to offer him a prominent platform on its radio network, American Family Radio. And AFA still employs as its governmental affairs director Sandy Rios, who along with other radical statements, has warned that “powerful Jewish forces” are using groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to destroy America and just this week mocked the notion that “God is fond of atheist Jews who occupy the land in Israel.”

The American Family Association and David Lane have every right to promote these extreme views. However, it is troubling that a major political party is lending them legitimacy.

Roy Moore’s Approach To The Constitution: 'They Didn't Bring The Quran Over On The Pilgrim Ship'

In January of last year, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore denounced the decriminalization of sodomy and the separation of church in state in a speech to Pro-Life Mississippi and Pastors for Life in Jackson, Mississippi. Moore, who first received national attention when he lost his post for refusing to obey a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he erected in a courthouse rotunda, recently urged Alabama to flout a federal court’s decision finding that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Moore’s understanding of the Constitution is pretty well summed up by his belief that Christianity and the Bible should have privileged roles in U.S. government because “they didn’t bring a Quran over on the Pilgrim ship, the Mayflower.”

Upset that the military was allowing “two men getting married in a chapel,” Moore said that America is forgetting about God and only turning to public worship “when we get in trouble, when they bombed the Twin Towers.”

“They don’t acknowledge Buddha,” Moore said of elected officials. “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammad didn’t create us.”

Moore, who once described homosexuality as a “criminal lifestyle,” also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down bans “sodomy” bans in Lawrence v. Texas.

He said that the “abominations” of gay rights and legal abortion are now putting America in direct confrontation with God.

Has The AFA Changed Its Position On Sodomy Laws?

Yesterday, the American Family Association announced that it was stripping Bryan Fischer of his position as a spokesman for the group. The AFA's move to distance itself from Fischer’s regular barrages of bigotry apparently came in response pressure from its allies in the Republican National Committee, who are preparing to go on a tour of Israel on AFA's dime. (Though the fact that the group is retaining Fischer as a radio personality on its American Family Radio network makes the whole thing somewhat less convincing.)

In what seems to be part of this effort, AFA has sent the Southern Poverty Law Center a letter explicitly denouncing a laundry list of Fischer’s statements, from his blaming the Holocaust on gay people to his insistence that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.

But one statement in the letter stands out:

AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal.

Really? Is AFA renouncing its support for criminal sodomy laws?

If the AFA has indeed changed its positions on criminal prohibitions on “homosexual conduct,” that would certainly be news! But we somehow wonder if this is yet another example of the group saying one thing to its critics while it continues to say another to its base.

After all, in 2003, when the Supreme Court was preparing to hear arguments in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that struck down state-level prohibitions on sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex, the AFA submitted an amicus brief [PDF] passionately defending such laws.

AFA’s attorneys urged the court to consider the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy,” which it implied was more harmful than rape:

In addition to the concrete physical harms that can be caused by private vices, morals laws may prevent moral harm, both to the potential wrongdoer and to the community at large. Just as “[a] physical environment marred by pollution jeopardizes people’s physical health; a social environment abounding in vice threatens their moral wellbeing and integrity.” The injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy was well understood in the past. Blackstone, having spent several pages immediately prior on rape and abduction, introduces the section on sodomy as dealing with an offense “of a still deeper malignity,” “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature.” Plainly, this crime is of a different magnitude. [citations removed for clarity]

AFA also warned that sodomy laws protect “the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior,” and that though they “may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges” they will be “beneficial in the end”:

Another interest often overlooked in analysis of the issue of public harms occasioned by private immorality is that of the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior. The enormous price in terms of illness, disease and death resulting from the conduct…is well documented.

But even aside from the health issue, it has been almost universally recognized that restraint is the sine qua non for social harmony. “Human society requires the direction and restraint of many impulses. Few of those impulses are more powerful or unpredictable than sexual desire.” Laws such as [these] may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges, but the restraint they encourage is beneficial in the end. American jurisprudence long ago rejected Hume’s notion that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.”  [citations removed]

The same year, AFA’s Ed Vitigliano wrote in the American Family Association Journal that a victory in Lawrence would be necessary to preserve “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.”

Interestingly, the nation’s highest court will be revisiting in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas the same general issues dealt with in a previous Supreme Court case. In Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), a 5-4 high court majority upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute.

That narrowest of decisions, however, pitted two culturally distinct appraisals of morality and law against each other – and in fact provides a clear lesson about what has become known as the culture war.

Sadly, however, since 1986 the more traditional Judeo-Christian views which prevailed in Bowers have been steadily eroding in our culture, in favor of the more postmodern views of the minority in that case. Should the Supreme Court in Lawrence take an opposite view than it did in Bowers, that would mean – quite remarkably – that in the span of only 17 years, the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview had been decreed, by unelected judges, obsolete.

Most sodomy laws have already disappeared anyway. In 1960, all 50 states had such laws on their books – now only 13 states do. However, the repeal of these laws – either by state legislatures or judges – indicates that the statutes represent a worldview that is rapidly being abandoned in favor of postmodern relativism. Sodomy laws derive from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.

We look forward to seeing the AFA issue a full retraction of its previous support for criminalizing “homosexual conduct.” But we aren’t holding our breath.

Anti-LGBT Groups Cheer On Roy Moore's Standoff With Federal Courts

Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama’s governor urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because, he wrote, “the laws of our state have always recognized the Biblical admonition” against homosexuality.

Moore’s arguments may be legally questionable, but his stand against the federal courts seems to be catapulting him back into right-wing hero status that he hasn’t seen since he defied a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from his court’s rotunda.

Anti-LGBT groups have been praising the move by the viciously anti-gay judge.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Moore for standing up against marriage equality, which he warned is a threat “not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival":

Federal judges may have the last word on marriage -- but they won’t have the final one. That’s becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear -- explaining that this isn’t an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it “raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”

Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance -- not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival.

Bryan Fischer, who at the time he made the comments was a spokesman for the American Family Association, also praised Moore for taking “a stand against judicial tyranny”:

State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments. Governors, such as Gov. Bentley, can defy unconstitutional federal rulings by forbidding county clerks to issue marriage licenses which would be in violation of the state constitution. (First Amendment law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have pledged to defend pro bono any clerks who refuse to issue same-sex licenses on grounds of conscience.)

Such actions would most emphatically not represent civil disobedience, but rather the best in civil obedience. An elected official can hardly be charged with rebellion when he is simply fulfilling the oath he took before God to uphold both the federal constitution and the constitution of his own state.

Meanwhile, CitizenGo, a petition hub run in part by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, asked supporters to sign a petition commending Moore for "standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay ‘marriage’ on the state of Alabama":

Chief Justice Roy Moore,

Thank you for standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay "marriage" upon the state of Alabama. Your bold stand against the redefinition of marriage and the erosion of our nation's moral foundations is an inspiration.

I want you to know that I stand with you as you resist the federal government's unconstitutional demands regarding homosexual "marriage."

I encourage you to fulfill your duty as a lesser magistrate to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the great state of Alabama by resisting these unjust demands.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore led before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court and which is now run by his wife, hasn't reacted to Moore's letter. But the group did respond to the judge’s ruling by acknowledging that “Jesus loves” gay people but “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

Brian Brown's CitizenGo Promoting Anti-LGBT Referendum In Slovakia

Next week, Slovakia will hold a referendum against same-sex marriage, and anti-LGBT groups from around the globe are getting into the game to support it.

Although Slovakia has already banned same-sex marriage in its constitution, the referendum would reinforce and expand the prohibition, asking voters, according to the Associated Press, “whether they agree that a marriage can be called only a union between a man and a woman, same-sex partners can't adopt children, and that children wouldn't have to attend school classes on sex education if their parents don't agree with them.”

Last year, a European representative of the U.S. group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the country’s constitutional court in favor of holding the referendum. ADF also supported a provision in that would have banned domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, but the court rejected including that provision in the referendum.

Yesterday, CitizenGo, a Madrid-based group whose board of directors includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, circulated a petition to its American email subscribers supporting Slovakia’s marriage referendum. The email sent to American supporters was signed by Josh Craddock, the head of Personhood USA’s international and United Nations work, on behalf of CitizenGo.

The petition, which has already gathered more than 45,000 signatures, encourages Slovak citizens to vote “yes” on the referendum in the face of what it calls “an aggressive foreign media campaign” against it:

The Slovak referendum is under attack from an aggressive foreign media campaign against the initiative. We cannot leave Slovak citizens alone in the face of these international pressures against marriage and the family.

By signing this petition, you will show your solidarity and support for marriage and family. Your signature will encourage Slovakia to vote in favor of these important values.

The November issue of the newsletter of the World Congress of Families, an Illinois-based group that connects international anti-LGBT and anti-choice activists, featured a plea from Anton Chromik, a leader the group spearheading the referendum effort in Slovakia, for support from international groups.

The Cato Institute’s Dalibor Rohac wrote in the Times last month that Chromik is warning that LGBT people don’t want “rights,” but to “shut the mouths of other people,” which he says could lead to “dictatorships” or “mass murders”:

Anton Chromik, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Family, claims that “homosexuals are not asking just for ‘rights,’ but want to shut the mouths of other people. They will be making decisions over other people’s lives, careers, and that has always in history resulted in dictatorships and sometimes even in mass murders.”

This rhetoric is reminiscent of the warnings peddled American anti-LGBT activists; as Political Research Associates has noted, the frame of LGBT people as the real oppressors is one that U.S. groups have been increasingly pushing in their work overseas.

Rohac also noted that the anti-LGBT referendum is tied up with Slovakia’s economic troubles and with its relationship with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of anti-LGBT sentiment to strengthen support for Russia in Eastern European and Central Asia:

For the government of Prime Minister Fico, the controversy is a welcome — though temporary — distraction from some very real problems facing Slovakia. While its transition from Communism was a success, the country is still plagued by rampant corruption, chronic unemployment — exceeding 30 percent in some regions — and by the intergenerational poverty of the sizeable Roma population.

The country has also seen a geopolitical shift following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mr. Fico becoming one of the Kremlin’s leading apologists. Unsurprisingly, Slovakia’s anti-gay activists have a soft spot for Vladimir Putin, too. Former Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky, a former Catholic dissident and an outspoken supporter of the referendum, noted recently that “in Russia, one would not even have to campaign for this — over there, the protection of traditional Christian values is an integral part of government policy” and warned against the “gender ideology” exported from the United States.

The Real Problems With Bobby Jindal And His Prayer Rally

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal skipped an Iowa stage crowded with Republican presidential wannabes on Saturday so he could host a prayer rally on the campus of Louisiana State University. Jindal and others have mischaracterized objections to the rally, suggesting that its critics were somehow out to silence people of faith. So let’s be clear about the real issue: Bobby Jindal used the power and prestige of his office to promote an event backed by some of the nation’s most religiously divisive and stridently anti-gay activists. And in a bid to boost his own political future, he sent a clear message of support for the Christian-nation views of the event’s extremist organizers.

Christians Only, Please

Let’s start with the invitation, sent on Jindal’s official state letterhead. “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival,” he wrote, “if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Leadership to solve the country’s problems “will not come from a politician or a movement for social change,” he wrote in this time of civil rights movement anniversaries. So how will we solve our problems? “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” In a separate letter he wrote to the other 49 governors inviting them to his rally to pray for “spiritual revival” and “heaven’s intervention” over the country. “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

What does all this suggest to non-Christian Americans (including non-Christian governors) about how Jindal views their contributions? Jindal’s letters reflect the attitudes of rally organizer David Lane, a political strategist who believes America was founded by and for Christians. The event was paid for by the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman, radio host Bryan Fischer, believes the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections apply only to Christians.

The rally was also a showcase for the dominionist views of self-proclaimed “apostles” who promoted and spearheaded the event. One of those “apostles” was the event’s emcee. Doug Stringer has called the 9/11 attacks “a wake-up call” that happened because God was not around to defend America due to abortion, homosexuality, and kicking God out of public schools. While introducing Jindal, Stringer made a brief mention to “Seven Mountains” theology, which states that all the “mountains” in society – arenas like business, entertainment, and government – must be led by the right kind of Christian. A later speaker, Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, spent more time on the “Seven Mountains.” Mills said these spheres of influence belong to God, but are currently occupied by the “enemy.” They therefore need to be evangelized and “occupied by the body of Christ.”

Not Political? Not Credible

Jindal and organizer David Lane declared, unbelievably, that the rally was not political. Lane is a self-described political strategist who works to turn conservative evangelical churches into voter turnout machines for right-wing candidates and causes. Lane is trying to get 1,000 conservative evangelical pastors to run for public office, and he held a recruiting session the day before the prayer rally. Jindal and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma were among the speakers. Another example of the disconnect between rhetoric and reality: Stringer made the claim that the rally was not meant to lift up any politicians while he was standing in front of a huge screen featuring a quote from Bobby Jindal.

The “not political” claim was hard to take seriously given the amount of time devoted to making abortion illegal and declarations that what will tip the scales will be the “the voice of the church in the voting booth.” Jim Garlow, who led church organizing for California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, and who believes the marriage equality movement is demonic, dropped all “nonpolitical” pretense, railing against marriage equality and IRS regulations that restrict the involvement of churches in electoral politics.

Opponents = Enemies

One of the biggest problems with treating politics as spiritual warfare is that you turn your political opponents into spiritual enemies. People who disagree with you on public policy issues are not just wrong, but evil, or even satanic. That makes it pretty hard to work together or find compromise.

In daily prayer calls leading up to the rally, organizers prayed for God to forgive students who were organizing protests, as if disagreeing with Bobby Jindal were a sin – or a form of anti-Christian persecution. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” prayed call leaders, comparing their pleas to Jesus asking God to forgive those who crucified him, and Saint Stephen asking for mercy for those who were stoning him to death. On one call, a prayer leader decreed a “no-go zone for demons” over the sports arena where the event was to be held. At the rally, one speaker talked of storming the gates of Hell. Bishop Harry Jackson finished his remarks by leading the crowd in a chant he has used at anti-gay rallies: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered!”

Jindal Unplugged, Unhinged, and Unapologetic

Jindal seems to have decided that his best chance in a crowded Republican field is to plant himself at the far right of an already far-right group. In the days leading up to the rally, he drew criticism for comments denigrating Muslims and for repeating bogus charges about Muslim “no-go zones” that Fox News had already apologized for spreading. During a radio interview a few days before the rally, Jindal said liberals pretend that jihadist terrorism isn’t happening and pretend “it’s a good thing to kill journalists, to kill teenagers for watching soccer, to kill over 150 schoolchildren, to treat women as second-class citizens…” He decried political incorrectness and multiculturalism and said of immigrants who do not embrace American exceptionalism, “that’s not immigration, that’s invasion.”

On “This Week” on Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that Jindal had declared at his prayer rally that “on the last page, our God wins,” and asked him if that was appropriate in a religiously diverse country. Jindal praised religious liberty but ducked the question.

On the same show, Jindal said he would back a push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow states to discriminate against same-sex couples, all while saying “I am not for discrimination against anybody.” (Jindal describes himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” and his contradictory rhetoric parallels the language of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which says it opposes “unjust discrimination” against gay people, but defines the term “unjust discrimination” in a way that applies only to those people with “same-sex attraction” who remain celibate.)

Jindal has also promoted far-right policies as governor. As Brian has noted:

Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Whose Agenda?

Jindal’s rally was not an original idea. In fact Jindal’s “Response” recycled materials and themes from a similar event that Texas Gov. Rick Perry held in 2011 to launch his presidential bid. Here’s what I wrote about Perry’s event, which applies equally well to Jindal’s – not surprising since both were organized by the same groups of extremists:

Organizers argued (unconvincingly) that "The Response" was about prayer, not politics. But groups like the American Family Association (AFA), which paid for the rally and its webcast…are not designed to win souls but to change American law and culture through grassroots organizing and political power-building. They have a corrosive effect on our political culture by promoting religious bigotry and anti-gay extremism, by claiming that the United States was meant to be a Christian nation, and by fostering resentment among conservative evangelicals with repeated false assertions that liberal elites are out to destroy religious liberty and silence conservative religious voices.

Jindal, of course, has the right to talk about his faith. But it is wrong for him to use his public office to proselytize and denigrate the faith of others. Teaming up with anti-gay extremists and Christian-nation advocates gives them credibility they do not deserve. His actions speak volumes about his judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and equality under the law.

The Nativist Strategy Behind World Congress of Families' Anti-LGBT, Anti-Choice Work In Russia

Last year, a slew of American Religious Right activists traveled to Moscow to take part in an international conference called “Large Families and the Future of Mankind.” The conference was funded by top allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF ended its official role in the event after the U.S. placed sanctions on some of its funders, but was still clearly the main organizing force behind it.)

The fact that the conference was dedicated to “large families” is important. In a new report for Political Research Associates, Cole Parke exposes how WCF has worked with Russia’s government to exploit fears of a European “demographic winter” and push for policies restricting abortion and LGBT rights. Parke illustrates that behind the “demographic winter” warning is a “cynical manipulation of racial resentments” — not the fear that the country’s population is dropping but that Russian identity might be “redefined as something other than White and Orthodox.”

WCF’s influence at the U.N. relies heavily on its longstanding ties with Russia, one of the five permanent members on the U.N. Security Council. Carlson’s work on the ”demographic winter”—the idea that abortion, birth control, homosexuality, feminism and other ”unnatural” deviations have led to dangerous population decline and a crisis for the ”natural family”—has proven to be particularly effective in garnering favor with Russia’s conservative leadership.

Carlson argues that declining birth rates threaten the decline of civilization—Western civilization. As researcher and journalist Kathryn Joyce puts it, “The concern is not a general lack of babies, but the cultural shifts that come when some populations, particularly immigrant communities, are feared to be out-procreating others.” Put another way, the demographic winter thesis cultivates racism and xenophobia in support of exclusionary “natural family” policies. A main objective of the WCF’s demographic scare tactics is to convert nationalism into natalism, and thereby mobilize a larger anti-abortion, “natural family” base. (Natalism prioritizes human procreation, including public policies that reward birthing children.)

This perspective is commonplace among WCF and its affiliates. Following WCF’s 1997 congress in Prague, Cathy Ramey, associate director of the U.S. anti-abortion organization Advocates for Life Ministries, explained what she’d learned: “As native citizens reject marriage and child-bearing, other non-native groups will simply move in and replace the historic population.” Speaking at WCF V, John Mueller, a researcher at the Ethics and Public Policy Center—a neoconservative think tank in Washington, DC, argued that “fertility would rise and remain above the replacement rate, not only in the United States but also most other countries, by ending legal abortion.”

In Russia and other parts of Europe, a combination of population anxiety and growing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment has offered WCF a favorable political context in which to advance its anti-abortion, “natural family” agenda. Carlson and his network have fanned the flames of “demographic winter” anxieties throughout the region.

In June 2011, WCF hosted the Moscow Demographic Summit, describing it as the “world’s first summit to address the international crisis of rapidly declining birthrates.” More than 500 people attended, including Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church; Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva; members of the Russian Duma; and a host of right-wing American scholars and activists.

Within two weeks of the event, President Medvedev—whose wife, Medvedeva, had recently teamed up with the Russian Orthodox Church on a new anti-abortion campaign—signed a law requiring abortion providers to devote 10 percent of any advertising to describing the dangers of abortion to a woman’s health, and making it illegal to describe abortion as a safe medical procedure. This was the first new legislative restriction placed on abortions in the country since the fall of Communism.

Four months later, in October 2011, the Russian Duma passed a law further restricting abortions to within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for cases up to 22 weeks in instances of rape or medical necessity. The new law also tacked on a mandatory waiting period of two to seven days before an abortion can be performed, a common tactic used by anti-abortion activists in the U.S.

Parke explores how WCF exploits nativist and nationalist fears in order to push restrictions on reproductive rights and LGBT equality in its work in Africa and at the United Nations as well. You can read the full report here.

Bobby Jindal's Prayer Warriors Fret About Protests, Declare 'No-Go Zone For Demons'

Is protesting Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally a sin? Organizers seem to think so.

For the past few weeks, organizers of this weekend’s prayer rally with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have been sending out calls to prayer and fasting in support of the event. This week they’ve added daily prayer calls at which they have led participants in prayer for Jindal, for the event’s organizers, for those in charge of logistics like sound and security, and even for those who will be protesting the event. While there is a big rhetorical emphasis on rally leaders having a “posture of humility,” this week’s prayer calls have demonstrated what you might call spiritual arrogance regarding those who have been planning a protest. Protesters being organized by Louisiana State University students and progressive allies have been portrayed as spiritual enemies. During open prayer time, one call participant asked forgiveness for the protesters, saying “they hate us because they hated You first.” One participant prayed that God would “silence the mouths of those who would speak against You.”

On Tuesday, prayers for “those who would stand against us” asked that protesters would experience God’s love from rally participants. On Wednesday’s call, prayer leaders asked God to forgive the protesters,  saying “they know not what they do” — language used by Jesus asking God to forgive those who were crucifying him, according to the account in the Gospel of Luke.  Martyrdom and crucifixion returned on Thursday’s call, with a call leader praying that God “release” the protesters to God, the way Stephen asked forgiveness for those who were stoning him and Jesus did for those who were crucifying him.

Clearly, Response organizers have embraced the tendency of Religious Right leaders to portray disagreeing with them as a form of persecution. One prayer leader cited the biblical story of God appearing to Saul, who had been persecuting Christians but saw the light and become the evangelist Paul. A woman asked to lead prayer for the protesters prayed that God would similarly release “the angels of the harvest” over them.

Organizers are worried that the protesters, who are planning a rally and activist training, might be a threat. They prayed that God would help police and security officers see any “flanking” or “positioning” maneuvers. One prayed that God would “bind any demonic assignment” and one thanked God that He would send angels to guard the arena where the rally is being held, and declare it a “no-go zone for demons in the name of Jesus.” (That’s a clever reference to Jindal’s recent comments about Muslims, which according to call organizers have stirred up more “anger” and “angst” against Jindal.) “There is a confrontation in the heavenlies going on,” declared one prayer leader.

It seems that Response organizers are making a lot of awfully big assumptions about people who simply think it’s a bad idea for a governor and potential presidential candidate to lend the power of his office to an event promoting anti-gay bigotry and religious exclusion: namely, that all such protesters must not be Christians, must not be right with God and may in fact be demonic agents, and are in need of forgiveness for their audacity to “stand against” Jindal and his prayer warriors.

Response organizers might want to pray a little harder for a spirit of humility.

Ellen DeGeneres Reveals Her True 'Gay Agenda' In Response To Right-Wing Columnist

Last week, People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch reported on a Christian Post column by right-wing commentator Larry Tomczak in which he warned that Hollywood is “promoting homosexuality” by “targeting innocent and impressionable children.” In particular, Tomczak attacked Ellen DeGeneres, whom he wrote “celebrates her lesbianism and ‘marriage’ in between appearances of guests like Taylor Swift to attract young girls.”

The column caught the attention of none other than Ellen herself, who responded to Tomczak on her show this week.

She told Tomczak: “First of all, I’m not ‘married.’ I’m married. That’s all,” adding “I don’t even know what it means to ‘celebrate my lesbianism.’”

She then revealed her true “gay agenda”:

PFAW

African American Ministers Call Anti-Immigrant Vote “Offense to Core Values”

In response to the vote by the House GOP to prevent President Obama from using his executive authority to address our broken immigration system, Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action, issued the following statement:

“Today’s vote is another deeply disturbing attack on immigrant families and an offense to our core values. Just as our history reminds us that America is a nation of immigrants, our faith reminds us that we’re called to welcome the stranger among us. This attempt to marginalize and harm immigrant families isn’t just contrary to our beliefs as Christians—it’s contrary to our belief as Americans that this country is, and must always be, a nation where people of all backgrounds can build a better life for future generations. We commend President Obama for standing firmly against this attempt to harm hardworking immigrants and their families who have made themselves a part of our shared community.”

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PFAW: GOP Congress Continues Anti-Immigrant Attacks

Republicans in the House of Representatives today voted to deport DREAMers and prevent President Obama from using his executive authority to temporarily address our broken immigration system, threatening funding for the Department of Homeland Security. In response, PFAW President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:

“After years of bashing Latinos and other immigrant groups to appease their far-right base, GOP leaders are moving quickly to use their political power to put their anti-immigrant agenda into law. Today’s vote is a clear sign that extremists like Steve King and his ilk are still calling the shots in the GOP. Instead of passing legislation that addresses our immigration crisis, House Republicans prefer to attack millions of immigrants and their families who are working hard to build successful, stable communities in our country. President Obama should be applauded for standing up to the GOP’s bullying tactics and promising to veto this legislation.”

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Brian Brown Tells Moscow Conference: Americans Reject 'New And False Vision Of The Family'

As we noted just now, we recently discovered that the website for the international conference of social conservatives hosted at the Kremlin in September has posted a number of English transcripts of speeches given at the event, including those of a handful of American activists.

One of those activists was Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, who had previously testified before a Russian parliamentary committee in favor of tightening the country's laws  preventing the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex couples.

Brown warned the audience in Moscow that “[i]n the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage” but claimed that Americans in general oppose LGBT rights. Lamenting that “there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family,” Brown said that it is “unelected judges” who are “coming and simply throwing away the votes” of Americans who oppose LGBT equality, violating “our civil right to have our vote counted.”

Brown told the conference attendees that he was hopeful for the future of the “international pro-family movement” that would “stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being.”

It is a great blessing to be with all of you here, in Moscow. I must say I am obviously an American, and I have eight children. We do exist, there are Americans with large families, but I never thought, and after talking to so many other Americans that are here today, I don’t think any of us ever thought that we would be here in Moscow, uniting together with all of you and seeing the leadership in defense of the family that we’re seeing in this country, and God bless you for that.

There are three things I want to discuss today. I want to focus primarily on what the future of the international pro-family movement is. Because what is occurring here, and what is occurring around the world, with leaders coming together, and meeting, and thinking, and discussing, and planning, and organizing, is a historic moment. We have an opportunity, we have been placed here to make a change.

Of course we see all of the bad that’s occurring. We see the countries that are embracing a false notion of marriage, we see the depressing and horrible rates of abortion in countries around the world; we see the negatives from what goes on in the media, what we see in movies. But there’s also a great good occurring, and great opportunities, and I think this moment in history is the time in which people from around the globe who understand the truth of the nature of the family, the truth of the nature of human dignity, the truth about what we need to do to protect the unborn, – we have an opportunity to band together, even in places that might seem unlikely, even in new relationships that we haven’t had in the past, to stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being. Because that in fact is what the redefinition of the family is all about.

So I think there are three characteristics of this new movement that we should embrace as we move forward. Number one – I think we need a boldness, a willingness to speak. In the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage; there is an attempt to punish donors who’ve donated to protect marriage in states like California throughout the country, to get their names in public, to try and fire people who are standing up for their beliefs, from their jobs, simply because they are standing for the truth of the union of a man and a woman.

At this point in history, it’s not enough to shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, I’m not going to deal with that.” We have to deal with it, we have to stand for the truth, we have to be bold.

At the same time, I believe we need a humility in our interactions around the world. What I mean is, much of our mass media is telling us things that may or may not be true, and it requires humility to work together with those that you may have differences on other matters, on the key issues of marriage and life. It takes humility to say that there are other countries that have stood up, and there’s something we can learn from them, especially if there’ve been other historic differences. I look at France, and I see one million people in the streets. We need to learn from France standing up for marriage.

It also takes humility that there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family. That is not true. The reality is that when the people of state after state have been able to vote on the definition of marriage, they voted to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Only in a few states has marriage been redefined. In 32 states the people have voted, even in California, to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman. When the people have been able to have their say, they’ve stood up for the truth! The problem is that we are now in a position when judges, unelected judges are coming and simply throwing away the votes of all of these millions of Americans! We have to stand up for civil rights, our civil right to have our vote counted!

So I think that when talking about the United States it’s important to understand that there are many-many people that are working to protect marriage, that are working to protect life and don’t accept the changes that are occurring at the higher levels of government.

Finally, I think we need to be faithful. Our Lord said that we would be persecuted if we stood up for righteousness; we are going to be persecuted, it is going to take a faithfulness for all of us that when we are persecuted and when there are attempts to divide us, that we stand together for the truth! There are many issues on which we may disagree; there are many issues of geopolitics that there may be differences of opinion in this room, but what we are united on is the fundamental truth that is at stake in this century, and that is the truth of the beauty and dignity of marriage and family.

And I believe, instead of fear, or being depressed, or being negative, we need an optimism with our faith, to say that no culture can long stand that neglects or denies the truth, the simple truth that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. No culture can long stand that denies the inherent dignity of each and every human being. We need to proclaim this truth, be faithful, and I believe, it may take five years, ten years, fifteen years, even decades in the future. If we are faithful, we will make a change. But above all that, whether the change occurs or not, we are all called to do this. This is our mission, this is our duty, and it is our honor to be a part of it at this time in history. Thank you, and God bless!

World Congress of Families Spokesman: 'Russia Is The Hope For the World Right Now'

Back in September, a number of American activists, including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown , traveled to Moscow to take part in an international conference on “Large Families and the Future of Humanity” hosted at the Kremlin. The event, funded by a handful of close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had originally been planned as the annual convention of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, but WCF dropped its official sponsorship after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine led the U.S. to place economic sanctions on several of the Russian leaders involved in the conference.

Nonetheless, the conference went right ahead as planned, with two leaders of WCF — communications director Don Feder and managing director Lawrence Jacobs — attending in their personal capacities and speaking at an opening press conference along with two of the event’s top Russian funders, Natalia Yakunina (wife of Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin) and Konstantin Malofeev.

In addition, Feder and Jacobs both had the chance to give speeches at the event. Feder, never one to be shy about his extremism, posted a transcript of his speech decrying the “sexual revolution” on the conservative website BarbWire in October.

Coincidentally, today, just as Glenn Beck was warning his Religious Right allies against siding with Putin in his anti-LGBT crusade and blasting WCF for having “bought Russia's salesmanship that they are the new global champion of Christianity,” we came across the English transcript of Jacobs’ speech, which pretty much reinforces Beck’s point.

After being introduced by Yakunina, who called him “our old friend and ally in pro-family movement,” Jacobs heaped praise upon Russia’s leaders for resisting European trends toward LGBT equality and abortion rights, saying, “I think Russia is the hope for the world right now.”

“Russian Eastern European leadership, I believe, is necessary to counter the secular, post-modern, anti-family agenda and replace want I’m calling the cultural Marxist philosophy that’s destroying human society, in particular destroying the family,” he said.

The “radical population control people” and “the radical LGBT groups” are staging a “Marxist takeover” of the West through developments like legalized abortion, liberalized divorce law, and the abolition of “sodomy” laws, he warned, leaving Russia to lead the “spiritual battle.”

“I believe that now that you’ve emerged from the seventy years of oppression, culturally you are healthier than much of the West,” he said.

In particular, I wanted to just talk about why I think Russia is the hope for the world right now. In particular…really, to the importance of the future of the family and to the future of civilization.

Russian Eastern European leadership, I believe, is necessary to counter the secular, post-modern, anti-family agenda and replace want I’m calling the cultural Marxist philosophy that’s destroying human society, in particular destroying the family. I can’t think of a place that’s experienced the destruction of the Marxism more than Russia after seventy years of destroying the family and the church. So this is something, I think, all of you understand.

What is happening now is a cultural Marxism. You defeated communism here in Russia, but we inherited a cultural communism, a cultural Marxism. Many Western nations may have economic freedom, political freedom or democracy, freedom of speech, but they’ve lost the freedom of education and culture. Our culture has been taken over by the Marxist in America and in the West. Let me explain.

So where does this leave us, what is causing all of these problems that we discussed so eloquently today and yesterday, why is it that the family is under attack? Well, I believe that really the cultural Marxism and socialism has replaced communism as the new attack on society. Really, the socialist revolution in the West has been greatly influenced by an Italian communist that maybe you don’t know of, Antonio Gramsci. Right in the thirties, he said in particular about the culture of the West, “If we can take over the family and the church, we can remove the barrier what stands as robust obstacles to a communist economical and political takeover.” So what he was saying is, “Look, we don’t need violent revolution, we need a cultural revolution.”

He proposed the takeover of the cultural institutions, the destruction of marriage and family, and the church. This would achieve what I’m calling cultural political correctness, which is what we see, where the minority rules the majority. The majority of people believe that the family is the fundamental unit of society, but we’ve been taken over by a minority of people, sometimes less than one percent of the population, that produces their agenda and their values.

So, this means that socialists have been working tirelessly in the West, and this includes, you know, the radical population control people, the radical LGBT groups. They’ve been working on a takeover of universities and various socialist institutions, and taking over the education, the media, the churches, and destroying any structure that stands in their way, which is the family.

How has this happened? Well, they devalued sex, they devalued life, they devalued marriage. And ultimately, the destruction of the family has become the focus of these socialists and their leftist ideology.

This should demonstrate what they’ve been able to do through the sexual revolution. I call it a timeline of a cultural takeover of the family and the church, a Marxist takeover.

Unfortunately, some of this begins in Russia, in 1920, when the communists legalized abortion at all stages of a woman’s pregnancy. And it wasn’t just that particular moment in time. Of course, it was then the development of the technology of abortion and spreading that across Europe and across the world, to the United States as well.

Then, to go further, prior to 1930, all Christian denominations – Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants – all believed the contraception was wrong, that the pill or any form of contraception was against God’s will. That changed in 1930, with the Anglicans.

And as I go forward to more modern times, we look at the promotion of pornography, the legalization of the birth-control pill, no-fault divorce. You can see the gradual loosening of moral values, Christian values, until, in 1973, the US Supreme Court and their famous Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States.

And then we went beyond abortion to same-sex marriage, legalizing that in the Netherlands in 2001. And in 2003, we struck down the sodomy laws in the United States, which opened up same-sex marriage. And now we have to worry about polygamy and all kinds of other forms of marriage.

So why is it that Russia can combat what has really been largely a revolution in the West? Well, because you understand what the Marxists can do to culture and to society. And I believe that now that you’ve emerged from the seventy years of oppression, culturally you are healthier than much of the West. And what you need to do, I think, is really continue to share the values that make Russia strong, that made it strong historically.

There is also a spiritual element to this. This is a spiritual battle, and, I think, members of the church in Russia, members of civil society should think about a way to reverse what happened in 1920. Clearly, if we can’t respect the dignity of human life, how can we do… We can see what happens. All these other things happen. So we need to make sure that we’ve reversed the legalization of abortion, but not just legally. I think, spiritually, there needs to be a repentance. There need to be an asking of forgiveness, not only in Russia but throughout the world, but I think Russia can lead this. Abortion started here, it can end here.

I believe, if Russia apologizes, takes responsibility and changes its abortion laws, and tells the world why it’s doing it, why the focus on the natural family, and life, and the dignity of human at all stages, it will lead in a counter-revolution to what we’ve seen in the sexual revolution that spread so many horrible values throughout the West. In fact, I think only Russia can do this.

One final thought. It’s obviously a spiritual battle, but there is also a philosophical battle. And so when the church, I believe, takes the lead on this issue of abortion, there is one additional area we can’t forget, and that’s the philosophical ideas of what we are doing. The spiritual part is the most important, and then what follows C. S. Lewis spoke about. You know, people as C. S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, Anglican, he was in England, they said… Once he converted to Christianity, they said, “Well, why don’t spend your time evangelizing people, telling people about the good news of Jesus? Why not spend all of your time…” He was, you know, obviously, very intelligent man and excellent orator – why shouldn’t he go into the ministry, for instance? And he said this. He said, “To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground, would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” And I believe, friends, that good philosophy must come from Russia.

Thank you.

Rafael Cruz Joins Religious Right Group In Effort To Repeal Plano Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, spoke at a press conference in Plano, Texas, today on behalf of an effort to repeal that city’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. Soon after Plano’s city council approved the ordinance last month, a new group sprung up to oppose it, apparently coordinated by Houston pastor Dave Welch, who also led the opposition to a similar ordinance in his city.

Welch and his allies are hoping to gather enough signatures to either force the council to repeal the ordinance or to put repeal on the ballot.

The Plano-based Liberty Institute, which said that it will file a lawsuit against the measure, organized today’s press conference with a number of area pastors. Cruz’s participation was not announced in advance, but a reporter who was present posted to Twitter a photo of him speaking:

 

 

The elder Cruz has been active in the effort to repeal a nondiscrimination ordinance in San Antonio, falsely claiming that the law allows pastors to be fined for preaching from the Bible.

We’ll update this post with video of Cruz’s speech when it becomes available.

UPDATE: The Plano group, Plano Citizens United, has posted an excerpt from Cruz’s speech in which he urged his supporters to run for office and oust “wicked” politicians who are violating the country’s “Judeo-Christian heritage.”

If the righteous, if the people of faith are not running for office, all that is left is the wicked ruling the wicked, the wicked electing the wicked. It is about time that our people of faith become involved in the political arena. We need to send a clear message, not just to the city council members, but to every politician that violates our Judeo-Christian heritage: we will primary you, we will get you out of office. Only that way will we see righteousness prevail and make America again that shining city on the hill to the glory of God.

 

 

 

New Report On Religious Right In Europe - And Its U.S. Backers

A new report from the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) examines the organized assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe from the Catholic hierarchy and its conservative allies. CESI was founded in 1997 to respond to violations of human rights, particularly women’s and minority rights, as well as militarization and economic dislocation.

“Neo-Conservative Threats to Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights in the European Union” examines the efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, its “satellite organizations,” and allied politicians to restrict access to abortion and LGBT equality in the European Union.  According to the report, “the Vatican hierarchy and its civil allies have recently re-organized and enhanced their efforts towards influencing public policies regarding family, sexuality and reproductive health.”

The report also references the mentoring role of U.S. groups that provide “inspiration and transfer of experience, tactics and strategies of action” to their European counterparts. As RWW readers know, we have been covering the support given by U.S. Religious Right groups and leaders, such as the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its European arm (ECLJ) and NOM’s Brian Brown, for anti-gay activism around the globe. “What we have here is a small, marginal, but very well organized and financed group of advocates for a fundamentalist religious-political agenda,” says the report.

According to the CESI report,

“Institutions in Brussels are now increasingly used as channels to promote Catholic values and fundamentalist ideology, creating an atmosphere of increased neo-conservative influence on the political institutions…this kind of extreme advocacy in defense of traditional, catholic values simultaneously aims to limit rights and discriminate against ‘the others and different ones’…”

The report documents the global interconnections among conservative groups and activists. For example, Luca Volontè is on board of patrons of U.S.-based C-FAM, and is among the European contributors to C-FAM’s “Turtle Bay and Beyond” blog.

In June of 2014, Luca Volontè, Ignacio Arsuaga – the president of CitizenGO and HazteOir, and Ludovine de La Rochère – the president of La Manif Pour Tous, have publicly supported “The March for Marriage” in Washington, an event organized by The National Organization for Marriage. In a meeting that was held behind closed doors, together with the representatives of some 70 countries, they have begun working on establishing an International Organization for Marriage.

The report notes the movement’s use of online communications and organizing strategies, including the online petition platform called CitizenGO.

CitizenGO presents itself as a global community of active citizens who use online petitions and actions to defend and promote life, family and (religious) freedom. They emphasize promoting active citizen participation in public and political life on local, national and international level, so this platform, based in Spain, operates in eight languages (Italian, German, French, English, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish). Arabic and Chinese version are in the planning stage.

Skillfully using the principles of participatory democracy as a disguise, CitizenGo actually works as a politically intelligent instrument, gathering numerous prominent figures of neoconservative agenda in the EU and centralizing advocacy actions against the right to abortion, marriage equality, assisted reproductive technology and sexual education in schools. In organized advocacy efforts against adopting three reports on SRHR status and gender equality in the EU (Estrela, Lunacek, Zuber), they have managed to gather about 350 000 support signatures in few months, and, while lobbying for each individual report, they have mobilized citizens to send tensof thousands of e-mail messages to the representatives in the European Parliament. That kind of numbers in support, as well as the range of influence should mostly be credited to Ignacio Arsuaga, the president of the CitizenGO platform and the founder of the organization HazteOir, who spent many years adapting online organizing and advocacy techniques used by conservative groups in the USA to the political conditions in Spain and the EU.

NOM’s Brian Brown is on the board of CitizenGo, whose logo describes the group as a “Member of the ACTRight Family.” ACTRight was founded by Brown to raise money for conservative causes and campaigns.

In addition to conservative efforts Europe-wide, the CESI report also includes a focused look on political activities in Croatia, including the role of the Catholic hierarchy in support of a campaign for a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples into the country’s constitution, the use of the U.S.-developed “TeenStar” abstinence-based sex ed program, and travel to the country by U.S. religious conservative activists Judith Reisman and Lila Rose.

Peter LaBarbera’s Terrible, Horrible Anti-LGBT Year

Voice of Christian Youth America’s Jim Schneider invited Americans for Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera onto the “Crosstalk” program yesterday to discuss the events of 2014, which was full of disappointments for the anti-LGBT activist.

LaBarbera’s chief villain of the year appears to be Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out as gay in October, writing, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me." LaBarbera told Schneider that because Cook “implicated our Heavenly Father in his sinful behavior,” he told “the biggest gay lie of 2014.”

“God has nothing to do with his homosexual behavior,” LaBarbera said. “So what he and the homosexual activist lobby are doing is they’re using, they’re trying to steal away Christianity and God to try to affirm their lifestyle because they’re so desperate to legitimize it.”

In a recent email to AFTAH supporters, LaBarbara accused Cook of “awful slander against God,” warning that if the Apple executive doesn’t renounce his homosexuality he “will spend eternity without Him in a place called Hell.”

LaBarbera was also frustrated by advances for LGBT people in sports, including the International Olympic Committee’s decision to require host countries to ensure LGBT nondiscrimination and NFL player Michael Sam’s coming out as gay.

LaBarbera, who traveled last year to Jamaica to urge the country to keep its criminal ban on homosexuality and has defended anti-gay laws inUganda and Russia, lamented that such a move would impede the Olympic hopes of countries that are “not as decadent as the United States.”

He warned that “it’s going to get to the point where you can’t take your son or daughter to a sporting event without risking the promotion of immorality to them at the game.”

LaBarbera illustrated this with a story about someone “sitting at a baseball game” when “a couple of lesbians start[ed] making out or necking, kissing each other, groping each other at the game. Well, we’re all against PDAs, public displays of affection, by anybody, but certainly homosexuality is a special case. Most parents don’t want homosexual behavior promoted to their son or daughter. And this is what’s going to happen to sports because of this.”

LaBarbera went on to lament the Obama administration’s efforts to promote LGBT rights abroad, which he said meant that “instead of being a force for good we became a force for evil.”

He boasted about his own anti-LGBT work in Jamaica, which he said was part of his refusal to “give up the truth” as illustrated by his “sexual sin substitution test.”

“Whenever you hear the word ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ substitute another sexual sin in place of the word ‘gay’ and see if it makes sense,” he told Schneider. “We don’t go around scolding people for ‘incestphobia’ or for being ‘pornography-phobes,’ it’s only the homosexual issue which we try to grant some sort of special, approved status.”

No Justice for Anyone Until All Lives are Valued

This weekend, thousands of Americans from all walks of life took to the streets to protest the unaccountable deaths of unarmed African American men at the hands of police officers.
 
The multiethnic, multi-racial, multi-generation, LGBT and straight crowds filling streets in major cities were reminiscent of demonstrations that we have seen so many times before: marches for civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights.Those marching this weekend recognized that after so many struggles and so many victories, we are still struggling to build a society that treats every human being with dignity under the law.

Something is wrong in America when people of color — particularly African American men and boys — do not feel safe in their own communities. Something is wrong when that sense of unease comes from the very systems we all have been taught to respect, honor, and count on for trust and protection.

This journey has never been easy, and has never moved forward without fearless social movements. Even after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, our laws encoded racial segregation for decades and enabled an explicit system of control over Black lives. Even then, African Americans were subjected to the Tuskegee experiment, witnessed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., mourned the 1985 police shooting of 66-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs. In our history, just as in our present reality, African Americans have faced a dramatically different justice system from the one that white Americans experience.

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun, is shot dead in a park because he is seen as a threat. A father, Eric Garner, allegedly selling cigarettes on a streetcorner dies at the hands of a police officer, and the case never goes to trial. Death without trial is seen as an appropriate punishment for Michael Brown, a teenager who may have stolen a box of cigars. These cannot be trivialized as flukes, or as isolated acts. They are the products of a justice system that still does not value or see all Americans equally.

Those who are involved in any struggle — for the recognition of the humanity of people of color, of immigrants, of women, of LGBT people — must recognize that when a justice system puts one group at risk for rights denied, every group is at risk. No struggle for civil rights will be complete until this injustice is rectified and yes, it can be rectified. But it will require getting to the root causes of racial injustice to forge a democracy that truly represents all of us and build a justice system that protects all Americans.

This past weekend demonstrators, in a unified voice, demanded stronger laws against racial profiling, special prosecutors in cases of police misconduct, and the demilitarizing of police forces. These are reasonable, doable demands. But the solutions must also also go beyond the criminal justice system.

Those of us fighting any civil rights fight must open our eyes and keep them open to the truth that all men are not treated equally in America. Because of this, the voices of four mothers who have lost their sons – Trayvon, Jordan, Michael and Eric – have become a call, a movement for justice like nothing seen in the past decade. There can be no justice for any of us until we consider all lives fully human, fully worth living.

PFAW Foundation

Michigan’s Lame Duck Session Ends Without Passage of “Right to Discriminate” Bill

In a victory for LGBT equality and genuine religious liberty, Michigan’s state legislature ended its 2014 lame duck session last night without passing a bill that would have allowed individuals and businesses to cite religious beliefs to bypass state anti-discrimination laws.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act would have allowed business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers, and was initially introduced as a counter to a proposed state bill that would protect LGBT people from discrimination. But while the anti-discrimination bill never even moved, the discriminatory bill passed in the House.

After the bill was introduced in the state legislature, PFAW members and local activists mobilized to call lawmakers and raise awareness of the bill’s dangerous consequences for LGBT Michiganders. Efforts like this are not unique to Michigan and come in the wake of this year’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. This legislation is part of a nationwide campaign by the Right to hijack freedom of religion and use it as a weapon to deny Americans their fundamental rights.

Fortunately, the bill -- which has been called the “right to discriminate” bill by some – did not even come to the State Senate floor for a vote.

This was the second of two victories in the Michigan state legislature’s lame duck session. Earlier this month, Michigan Republicans introduced a bill that would change the way the state’s electoral votes are counted in presidential elections. This strategy isn’t unique to Michigan, but is part of a larger right-wing effort to use Republican election victories in blue and swing states to consolidate political power by rigging the Electoral College, tilting the playing field to the GOP’s advantage. Last year, PFAW helped beat back similar plans in Pennsylvania and Virginia that would have changed the way those states apportion their electoral votes. In Michigan, we were just as engaged, with our members and staff attending committee hearings and lobbying legislators.

With the passage of a key deadline last week, the Electoral College rigging bill is also effectively dead for the year. But its proponents can (and likely will) bring it up again in the 2015 session – as they may also do with the “right to discriminate” bill. Michigan’s lame duck session has ended without either of these insidious bills becoming law, but the fight is far from over. We expect to see similar state-level legislative attacks from the Right throughout the next year. PFAW is proud to be a leader in the ongoing fight against right-wing extremism, and we’re ready to keep working in defense of progressive values in 2015 and beyond.

PFAW

Jindal Rally Organizers Remove Controversial Prayer Guide, Still Think Gays Are Responsible For Natural Disasters

Last week, we reported that the anti-gay, Christian nationalist organizers of a supposedly nonpolitical prayer rally that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is hosting next month had reused some materials from a similar rally hosted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry back in 2011, including a prayer guide blaming LGBT rights and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Blaming Hurricane Katrina on gay people and abortion, it turns out, didn’t go over so well in the state that was hardest hit by the 2005 storm, and after reporters in Louisiana started asking the organizers and Jindal’s office about the prayer guide, it was scrubbed from the rally’s website.

But disappearing one document can only do so much to hide the fact that Jindal is partnering with some pretty extreme organizations to put on his "The Response" event. In fact, the offending document was replaced on the event’s website by a letter from organizer Doug Stringer which only slightly more vaguely blames “earthquakes, floods, fires, and an escalation of natural disasters across the country and the world” on “the continued moral failures of our leaders.”

And when the New Orleans Times-Picayune approached Bryan Fischer, a spokesman for the event’s main funder the American Family Association, about the controversial prayer guide, he told them that his group stood by the original content. "We do know that natural disasters can be a form of God's judgment on an unrepentant nation,” Fischer told the Times-Picayune, before explaining that it’s “fitting that a part of the country that is obviously at risk for natural disasters would lead the nation in modeling repentance."

Still, the AFA initially issued a prayer guide that has offended many Louisiana residents. It implied legal abortion, same-sex marriage and pornography use contributed to Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. Though the prayer guide has been taken down, Fischer reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday. He said Louisiana should be especially concerned about the morality of the country, given its vulnerability to natural disasters.

"We do know that natural disasters can be a form of God's judgement on an unrepentant nation," Fischer said, "It's fitting that a part of the country that is obviously at risk for natural disasters would lead the nation in modeling repentance."

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