People For the American Way released a new video today calling out the Republican National Committee for accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel for several dozen of its members from the American Family Association, an organization with a long record of promoting bigotry against LGBT people and non-Christians.
The trip is being organized by David Lane, an influential Christian nationalist strategist.
Shortly before the RNC trip began, the AFA stripped its spokesman Bryan Fischer of his official title at the organization but retained him as a host on its radio network.
PFAW previously called on the RNC to cancel the trip, but it has moved forward.
Janet Mefferd was, unsurprisingly, not pleased with President Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, and suggested on her radio program last night that Christians should stop attending the interfaith event.
Mefferd wasn’t only perturbed by the president’s comments on Islam, but was also outraged at the presence of the Dalai Lama, all of which she said revealed “the fundamental problem with interfaith prayer breakfasts in general.”
After reading excerpts from Obama’s 2012 prayer breakfast speech in which he pointed out similarities in the teachings of some of the world’s major religions, Mefferd said she didn’t know why Christians in the audience didn't walk out because Obama’s interfaith “garbage” does nothing “to spare me from Hell.”
There you go. That is the fundamental problem, and this seems to me to be the fundamental problem with interfaith prayer breakfasts in general. You know what, God is not the God of civil religion, folks. I know that we have a long tradition in this country that was always assumed to be a Christian gathering. It was one thing when you have people who are maybe, you know, Presbyterians and Baptists and Lutherans coming together, that sort of thing. It’s a new ballgame now. Now it’s the Dalia Lama and the Muslim imam and these sorts of things. I don’t know how many Christians were there and who all made up the audience in this thing, but I don’t know why they’re sitting there. You can’t redeem this sort of stuff. You just can’t.
I don’t know how you can listen to this garbage. ‘Well, you know, all the major religions say love your neighbor.’ What does that do to spare me from Hell? What does that do? You know, I don’t really care about moral teachings of great philosophers from history because I’m concerned about where my soul is going to go when I’m dead.
Earlier in the program, Mefferd took calls from a number of listeners who suggested that President Obama is secretly Muslim, including one caller who cited a right-wing meme about President Obama praising the mosque of the man who beheaded a coworker in Oklahoma.
“This is the same man, Janet, who changed his U.S. name, Barry, to Barack Hussein Obama,” the caller added. “Do you not know, once you become a Muslim, you agree, all Muslims agree that Sharia law should be the law of the land? I am not surprised…this man keeps revealing who he is and whose side he really is.”
“Yeah,” Mefferd agreed, “it’s just so blatant.”
As Rachel Maddow noted last night, the Republican National Committee is not eager to talk about the fact that 60 of its members are currently on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel with Christian nationalist organizer David Lane that was funded by the American Family Association.
Lane and the AFA don’t only promote a Christian nationalist view of the U.S. government and push smears against those of other religions and fellow Christians who do not share their views, but the AFA has a troubling history of bigotry toward secular Jews in the U.S. and Israel.
So it should come as no surprise that Lane and the AFA invited Joel Rosenberg to speak to RNC members, considering that Rosenberg is an End Times alarmist who promotes the apocalyptic narrative that Jews in Israel must convert to Christianity to prepare for the second coming of Christ, and used to exult on his website that “Jews are turning to Jesus in record numbers, and they are getting excited about His Second Coming.”
Rosenberg tweeted on Wednesday that he had spoken with RNC members on the trip about his new book, “The Third Target”:
Rosenberg also tweeted photos of himself with some members of the RNC delegation, including former Puerto Rico Gov. Louis Fortuno and former Mitt Romney advisor Ron Kaufman:
Rosenberg specializes in linking natural disasters and other calamities to God’s displeasure with secularism and reproductive rights. He has said that Hurricane Sandy was part of God’s plan to “get our attention and call us to repent of our sins and turn back to faith in Jesus Christ and back to reading and obeying the Bible”; tied the Newtown school shooting to Jon Stewart and the so-called “War on Christmas”; and even claimed that God let the September 11, 2001, attacks to happen “to shake America, to get our attention, to wake us up.”
Rosenberg is hardly a new friend of the Republican Party. Back in 2011, he led a delegation to Israel that included a number of GOP congressmen, including Rep. Louis Gohmert, who took the opportunity to give a copy of Rosenberg’s latest novel to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott, who also runs the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works as a lobbyist for The Family Leader, told the “View From a Pew” radio program last week that more prayer rallies like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” are needed to prevent God from destroying America .
One of the things for which the country needs to repent in order to get back on God’s good side, Scott said later in the interview, is the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools.
“When the prayer came out in the ‘70s, and that’s one of the things that I prayed for last week in Louisiana with 6,000 people, repentance, because we as a church should never have let that happen, we should never have allowed prayer to be taken out of our schools,” she said.
She cited the claims of Christian-nation activist David Barton, who links the end of state-sponsored school prayer to all manner of social ills. “Since we’ve done that, David Barton has done studies and research that in your schools, the crimes used to be gum, tardiness and talking. Now it is assault, rape, murder. We’re dealing with much more difficult issues,” she said.
Scott suggested that instead of passing a “horrible” anti-bullying bill currently being considered in the state legislature, Iowa should just return Christian prayer to schools:
“The problem is, like prayer, we took out the golden rule in our schools — which is a scripture verse, treat others like you want to be yourself treated — we’ve taken the Bible out and the schools are groping for something to replace it, and in its place with all kinds of bad law on top of bad law that only oppress us and make us all victims to possible crime and punishment for somebody else’s cause.”
Later in the interview, Scott insisted that the separation of church and state is “nowhere” in the Constitution and that if conservative Christians “only had the courage of the pagans or those who disagree with us, if we stood on our convictions as much as they do, we wouldn’t be in this.”
Tamara Scott, an Iowa Religious Right organizer and RNC committeewoman who was involved in organizing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” prayer rally, said last week that a number of other Republican governors have committed to or are seriously considering holding similar rallies, which she hoped would save America from God’s destruction.
In an interview with “The View From a Pew” program, an Iowa-based webcast, Scott said that in addition to Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hosted a “The Response” event in 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has agreed” to host a rally and organizers are trying to convince Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to do the same.
On her own program, “Tamara Scott Live,” earlier in the week, Scott said that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida had sent a staff member to the Jindal event to investigate the possibility of holding a “The Response” rally himself and that Jindal had approached Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ask him to consider holding one as well. Scott also expressed her hope that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas would consider hosting a rally.
Scott told the “View from a Pew” hosts that such events are needed to save American from destruction, paraphrasing the biblical book of Jeremiah: “If I build up your nation and you fall away, I’ll destroy you…If I’m going to destroy you and you repent, I will heal your land and rebuild you.”
“If our federal government is not smart enough to stick to the foundational principles of those who set this country on the great start that it had by calling on the name of Jesus — George Washington to all the men on Mount Rushmore — if they were not smart enough to understand, then our states can do it individually,” she said on the earlier program.
The Jindal rally’s organizers have hinted that other governors may be planning similar events, writing in a recent email, “There is a sense that God may be orchestrating similar days of prayer and fasting called by Governors around the nation over this next year.” Although the event’s main organizer, David Lane, has allied with a number of top Republican figures, he has yet to name names of governors he hopes to convince to host “The Response” replicas.
Jindal was forced multiple times to back away from the extremism of the organizers of his “The Response” rally, David Lane and the American Family Association. A prayer guide posted on the event’s website was removed after we reported that it blamed marriage equality and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Then the organizers tried to scrub the website of evidence of the participation of self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs after Rachel Maddow ran a segment highlighting her extremism. And a few days after the rally, AFA stripped its main spokesman, Bryan Fischer, of his title under apparent pressure from the Republican National Committee, which was about to send 60 of its members on a trip to Israel funded by the AFA and organized by Lane.
On Friday, The National Organization for Marriage joined the growing list of anti-LGBT groups that are coming out in support of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore’s attempt to convince his state to defy a federal court ruling overturning a ban on same-sex marriage.
NOM President Brian Brown, whose international petition site CitizenGo was already on record supporting Moore, wrote to NOM supporters on Friday that the many federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality in the wake of the Windsor decision represent not just “bullying” but “tyranny.”
“[T]his is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too,” he wrote.
We need to stand up to this kind of bullying whenever we encounter it, but especially when it comes dressed up in the robes of the state authority. Indeed, then we shouldn't call it merely bullying at all, but assign it the true name it deserves: tyranny.
Tyranny is precisely the word, for example, to describe the rash of judicial rulings that has swept across the country since the Windsor decision in summer of 2013 that overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act. And that's not just my opinion: it's also the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Honorable Roy Moore.
Justice Moore sent a letter to Alabama's Governor, Robert Bentley, this week urging him to "continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of [the state of Alabama] and for our posterity."
Moore's letter came in the wake of a ruling by a federal judge in Alabama that claimed the state's "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" is supposedly unconstitutional. The amendment was approved by 81% of voters in just 2006, winning every county in the State. The judge's decision is currently stayed pending review by higher courts.
Moore encouraged Governor Bentley: "Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority" [emphasis added].
Marriage Supporter, this is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too.
In the same email, Brown touted his work pushing anti-LGBT laws overseas, lamenting that “the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West” and accusing Obama and LGBT rights activists of attempting “to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world.”
And as we work, let's remember that we're not alone in this fight! Lately, I have had a few opportunities to meet with marriage leaders throughout the globe, such as at the recent Vatican Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman. The experiences of these countries make it clear that we have a global fight to preserve marriage, and that the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West — led by the United States (and the lawless actions of President Obama) but also including some countries in western Europe.
It's nothing short of a new western imperialism for the Obama administration and his allies among gay and lesbian activists to attempt to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world. (Indeed, Pope Francis, on his recent trip to the Philippines, called it a kind of "ideological colonization.") There's something ironic in all this, seeing how President Obama's foreign policy strategy (to the extent he has one) is supposedly predicated on the idea that America must work in concert with the international community. You'd think that advice would apply to Obama's attempt to redefine marriage, as well, since the overwhelming majority of countries around the globe have rejected same-sex ‘marriage'...
And that leads me to a positive bit of news to share in closing this week: if you haven't already heard, the national parliament of Macedonia recently voted overwhelmingly (72-4) to create constitutional provisions limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. And the people of Slovakia are very likely to do the same in a national referendum in little over a week's time!
In an interview Friday with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore defended a letter he sent to Gov. Robert Bentley urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying that he was just like abolitionists and desegregationists standing up against the “rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary.”
Moore told Rios that the case is similar to his famous defiance of a federal court order to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments from a court building because the 10 Commandments spat “symbolized the rejection of God’s law by the federal judiciary” and “now we see the institution of marriage that God ordained under sustained attack from federal judges":
Later in the interview, Rios asked Moore what he would say to Christians who are upset that he’s breaking the law by defying the federal courts.
“This is not against the law, this is for the law,” he said.
Moore, who in 2004 helped lead a campaign to preserve segregationist language in Alabama’s constitution, compared his stand against marriage equality to a defiance of federal courts on slavery or segregation. He added that he also puts abortion rights in that category, because “everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution”:
I think we’ve got to look back. Courts are not always perfect, Sandy. The United States Supreme Court is not always perfect. What would you have done in 1857 when they came out and said slaves were property. If you were a judge, would you have followed that opinion? Or in 1896, I think it is, in Plessy v. Ferguson, when they said that separate but equal was the policy that we had to adhere to, would you have followed it?
We’ve got to realize that courts, whether they’re federal, state, Supreme Court are not always perfect. And sometimes their rulings will contradict the Constitution, as did the United States Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott, as it did in Plessy v. Ferguson, as it did in Roe v. Wade. Everybody recognizes Roe v. Wade is not in accordance with the Constitution, but you know, there it is as law. So I submit to you that we’ve got to look at these things very carefully.
When Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley this week urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage, many in the Religious Right were elated.
One of those rejoicing is Janet Mefferd, who on her radio program today called Judge Moore’s stand against the federal court a “wonderful thing to see” and invited Wisconsin pastor Matt Trewhella on to her program to discuss it.
Trewhella has written a book on what he calls the "doctrine of the lesser magistrates," the idea that lower courts and elected officials can defy civil laws that they think defy divine law, and Mefferd told him that she “cracked up” at progressives calling Moore’s position “lawless” because “who has exhibited more lawlessness on the issue of marriage than the left and the pro-homosexual crowd?”
Trewhella agreed: “Absolutely, they’re the ones who are the anarchists here. What Roy Moore is trying to do, and hopefully Gov. Bentley here, is to restore order.”
“This whole idea of judicial supremecy, this whole idea that everyone has to listen to the federal judiciary is absurd, and they’re the ones who don’t have history or law behind them,” he said.
Later in the program, Mefferd falsely claimed that President Obama had refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, prompting Trewhella to repeat that supporters of LGBT rights “are the anarchists” while “people like Judge Moore and Gov. Bentley, they’re the ones that are doing right, they’re the ones actually trying to restore order from the disorder that lawless men have created.”
He went on to explain that marriage equality is “an attack upon Christ” and the next step in a government plot to destroy the family “by imposing licentiousness through law,” starting with the decriminalization of adultery and no-fault divorce laws.
“This isn’t just happening by chance, this is by design,” he said. “We have a federal government that is giving the most base men amongst us the force of law behind their filthy practices.”
As it happens, just this month, Trewhella was invited to share his views in a sermon to the Montana state legislature, which the Christian News Network reports was well received by many in his audience:
“The cold-blooded murder of the preborn, the imposition of homosexual marriage upon our states, no-fault divorce, the decriminalization of adultery, the phalanx of laws created by the State to invade our domestic affairs, disarm the people, seize our property, and harass our persons—all point to the growing tyranny in America,” he declared.
Trewhella then pointed to numerous biblical examples of interposition where the people of God refused to commit evil and chose to obey God rather than men—from the midwives who refused to kill the firstborn male children in Egypt contrary to Pharaoh’s command to Daniel’s refusal to obey a decree issued by King Darius that prohibited him from praying to God.
“Understand, God is the ultimate authority. The Bible says plainly, ‘The Most High rules over the realm of mankind,'” Trewhella preached to the more than 30 lawmakers gathered. “He created us, and thus knows best how we are to be governed. God is the ultimate Law-Giver and Ruler.”
“As God’s minister’s you are to govern according to His rule,” he continued. “You are—as it says in [Romans 13]—to reward those who do good and punish those who do evil. You are not to make law or policy which contradicts His moral law or His word.”
Trewhella said that the majority of the problems in America today stem from moral relativism out of its abandonment of God.
“God’s moral law as the ‘higher law’ provides an objective standard whereby one is able to discern right from wrong, or good from evil. The ‘higher law’ exists independent of the authority of any government, and all governments of men are accountable to it,” he explained. “It is the tyrant state that abhors an objective standard. It does not want to be accountable. It flourishes in a subjective environment. And that is why you are watching Western Civilization crumble before your eyes.”
“May God help you do right by Him,” the pastor and author exhorted.
“I had many [legislators] come up to me and tell me, ‘This is something we need to look into more and learn more about,'” he explained. “When people are taught for the word of God regarding civil government, they are able to see the purpose, functions and limits of civil government,” he said, adding that when citizens remain ignorant of these matters “it makes it much easier for the state to do things beyond its biblical or constitutional limits or restraints.”
Following the presentation of the sermon on Sunday, Trewhella also taught at meetings throughout the week in various cities, including in Plains, Missoula, Butte and Bozeman. In addition to the attendance of local residents, several government officials were present at the meetings as well.
“It’s been really good what’s happened here,” Trewhella said.
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
According to the right-wing media, Sharia law is gaining a foothold in Michigan, President Obama is blocking the sale of miracle drugs and Satan is commanding the gay rights movement. But Sarah Palin has uncovered the most menacing threat to America of them all: criticism of Sarah Palin.
5) ‘Obama’s Deadly FDA Secret Could Kill You’
Emulating Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, Fox News contributor and RedState founder Erick Erickson sells out his RedState.com email list to questionable sponsors who prey on the conspiracy-minded and science-averse.
According to Media Matters, one email to Erickson’s list claimed that the federal government is suppressing a miracle cancer cure that healed Ronald Reagan. Another warned that President Obama and the FDA could kill “over 45 million Americans…including you” because they are refusing to release a “secret” cure to cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
But 45 million deaths is low compared to the potential toll of another “Obama scandal” that a RedState sponsored email warned could “wipe out 281 million Americans.”
4) Fox News Helping … Hillary?
At least according to Sarah Palin. Upset that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly mocked the prospect of Palin and fellow reality television star Donald Trump running for president as a “reality show,” Palin charged that O’Reilly is trying to undermine the conservative movement just as it prepares to take on Hillary Clinton.
Palin fumed that “quasi-right” media outlets like Fox News should wake up to the fact that “this is a war” against Clinton and should help the GOP unify and “surface the competitor who can take on Hillary or whomever it may be and win for this country.”
Palin made the rambling, self-pitying remarks , of course, on Fox News.
3) Sharia Law In Michigan
The preposterous right-wing conspiracy theory that the city of Dearborn, Michigan, is controlled by Sharia law has long been completely discredited, but that of course hasn’t stopped the Family Research Council’sTony Perkins and Jerry Boykin from promoting it.
Perkins recently spoke with Frank Gaffney, a fellow anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, about the supposed rise of Sharia law in the U.S., and unsurprisingly, Gaffney joined in on the frenzy and referred to the city as “Dearbornistan.” He said the “Muslim-only” city of Dearborn has become a “ghetto” that is “too dangerous” to enter.
This might be news to the city’s residents, including one Army veteran who was able to find no shortage of stores selling haram goods like ham and liquor, along with a gentleman’s club, despite the claims of right-wing activists that the city is now imposing Sharia law.
2) Marriage Equality Turns Kids Into Government Property
A group of Catholic and Protestant leaders signed a statement this week warning that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead “to the coercion and persecution of those who refuse to acknowledge the state’s redefinition of marriage, which is beyond the state’s competence.”
Signatories, including National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher and prominent Proposition 8 supporter Rick Warren, warned that marriage equality for same-sex couples represents an even “graver threat” to society than divorce “because what is now given the name of marriage in law is a parody of marriage.”
By legalizing same-sex marriage, the statement reads, “a kind of alchemy is performed, not merely on the institution, but on human nature itself,” since same-sex marriage apparently “disregards the created order, threatens the common good and distorts the Gospel.” The statement even claims that marriage equality will turn children “in important legal respects, the property of the state.”
1) Gay Demonic Energy
American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer thinks that Satan makes people gay, so of course Fischer believes that Satan is also in command of the gay rights movement.
“I don’t think you will ever find a more directly demonic energy than when you deal with the homosexual agenda,” Fischer said this week. “They’re vicious. They are mean. You literally are staring into virtually the unvarnished energy of Satan himself when you come up against the forces that are pushing the homosexual agenda forward.”
Upset with the coverage of his comments, Fischer said that he feels bad for gay people, since they are “captives, prisoners of war” of Satan.
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).
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.
Last month, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that the city of Dearborn, Michigan, and some areas of Minneapolis have effectively become “no-go zones” where “authorities have allowed Sharia law to be imposed.”
In response, Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is one of two Muslims in Congress, invited Perkins to visit him in Minneapolis and “see firsthand that Minneapolis is an inclusive and thriving city completely under the jurisdiction of local, state, and federal authorities.”
On his “Washington Watch” radio program last night, Perkins defended his “no-go zone” remark, admitting that the term is “not literally accurate” but that it correctly describes “the underlying problem is the lack of assimilation and integration into the broader society” that is seen in Muslim communities in “some of these areas in this country.”
Perkins then said that he would accept Ellison’s invitation to tour Minneapolis as soon as the weather warms up. Or, as he put it, “Let a little more of the president’s forecast of global warming hit and I will be there.”
Last week on “Secure Freedom Radio,” Frank Gaffney asked Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., about Gaffney’s discredited report on the use of Sharia law in the U.S., telling the congressman that the judiciary is bending to the wishes of the Muslim Brotherhood to use Islamic jurisprudence in the court system.
Marino told Gaffney that America needs a president who is “not going to step back and allow this kind of activity to take place in our court rooms.”
“We need conservative judges, we need a conservative president who will appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court and to the appellate court and the district court as well where this issue can be snuffed out immediately when the defendant tries to raise the issue,” Marino said.
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.
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.”
On Wednesday morning, a roomful of school children were herded into a congressional meeting room and required to sit through an hour and a half worth of speeches by conservative Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sens. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry, Education & Workforce Committee Chair John Kline of Minnesota, and a handful of others. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana was the emcee.
The Capitol Hill event was in honor of National School Choice Week, whose organizers describe it as a nonpolitical, nonpartisan “independent public awareness campaign” promoting the idea that every child deserves access to an excellent education. Who would disagree?
In other words, it’s a PR campaign, one that wraps itself in the moral mantle of children. But the bright yellow scarves it wraps around its participants are meant to distract attention from the fact that sponsors of this week’s thousands of events include many anti-public education, anti-union, anti-government ideologues, including the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance for Prosperity and others. The President of National School Choice Week, Andrew Campanella, used to work at the Alliance for School Choice, whose board is chaired by deep-pocketed right-wing activist Betsy DeVos and is funded by a who’s who of right-wing foundations.
As we noted during last year’s NSCW:
Education policy is a vast, complicated, and hotly contested arena. Terms like “education reform” and “school choice” sound good, but they are so broad as to be almost meaningless. They can be applied to genuine efforts to strengthen teaching and educational opportunity as well as cynical schemes to destroy public employee unions and dismantle public education altogether.
In particular, “school choice” encompasses a huge array of education policies, from public charter and magnet schools to taxpayer-funded for-profit cyberschools and homeschooling. Even a seemingly specific term like “charter schools” cloaks a more complex reality that ranges from innovation labs co-located in public schools to for-profit chain operations.
Indeed, this year, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter published “A Smarter Charter: Finding What works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” The book documents that the original vision for charter schools – teachers empowered to be creative in diverse schools that could identify ways to strengthen public education – has been turned on its head. Rather than a teacher-empowering and collaborative paradigm, charter schools are often noted for tightly controlled teachers in highly segregated schools dominated by an ideology of competition with public schools.
There are more collaborative models, just as there are charter schools with strong academic track records as well as those that lag behind the public schools that choice advocates consistently disparage. Important distinctions get lost under the big, vague, banner of school choice. And that’s intentional.
NSCW is about painting in broad strokes and drawing no distinctions, for example, between public magnet schools and for-profit corporations cashing in on the “reform” movement. No distinction is made between giving students choice among their district’s public schools and diverting education dollars into religious academies and online homeschooling via vouchers and other schemes. These do not have the same impact on public schools, or the same levels of public accountability, but in the interest of keeping things simple, and winning public support for across-the-board expansion of these programs, they’re all “choice.”
The problem with this “collective messaging” approach is that it hides the anti-public-education agenda of some “reformers.” Celebrating “school choice” across the board lends credibility to organizations pushing for destructive policies that are not at all popular with the American public. In spite of decades of right-wing-funded attacks on public education, for example, Americans oppose privatization plans like vouchers that transfer public education funds to private schools.
Self-proclaimed reformers often dismiss concerns about privatization as a “red herring.” But you can’t embrace the Milton Friedman Foundation as a partner and then pretend that privatization is only an imaginary threat dreamed up by teachers unions. Friedman has an explicit goal of getting rid of public schools altogether; they see programs like vouchers for poor kids as a tactical stepping stone toward that ultimate goal.
Other supporters of National School Choice Week have included companies that want to tap into the huge flow of public dollars spent every year on education. K12, a member of the “choice”-promoting American Legislative Exchange Council and a company the New York Times has described as “the biggest player in the online-school business,” paid its president more than $5.5. million last year; two other executives each made more than $4 million. A November 2014 investigation by Bloomberg focused on the company’s efforts to turn around “subpar test scores” and declining enrollments.
National School Choice Week promoters say it is nonpolitical and has no legislative agenda, but that’s hard to take seriously given the agendas of its backers. At this week’s event on Capitol Hill, the only Democratic Member of Congress to join the Republican parade was Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who declined to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. (Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford also spoke.)
Members of Congress at Wednesday’s event talked about pushing legislation this year to expand “school choice” programs, meaning that battles over vouchers, charter schools, and other education issues will be on the agenda this year, including February’s Senate markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “There are currently private school voucher and tuition tax credit programs in 23 states and at least 10 states are looking to create new or expanding existing school voucher programs this year.”
Obviously, not everyone who participates in National School Choice Week activities is an anti-public-education ideologue. People from across the political spectrum are eager to strengthen schools and give students an opportunity for a great education. That includes public school teachers, administrators, and school board members – people who are collectively smeared as “the blob” by some “reformers.” People who are seeking to strengthen public education and make schools better for all children should think twice about making common cause with organizations that see public education as something to be dismantled and corporations that see students as the means to a bigger bottom line.
As readers of RWW are well aware, Religious Right leaders have adopted a strategy of portraying just about any policy they disagree with as a dire threat to their religious freedom. And they love to portray President Barack Obama as a sinister enemy of religious liberty. Today’s frantic email from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is a model of both the Obama-is-evil paradigm and frothing-at-the-mouth alarmism about threats to religious freedom in America.
This money beg has it all: President Obama scheming to turn America into a godless, totalitarian wasteland; ridiculous claims that the administration wants to silence the religious expression of its critics; conspiracy theories about Common Core; and flat-out lies that the administration did nothing to secure the release of Meriam Ibrahim from the Sudanese prison where she had been unjustly held.
Coming from Perkins, none of this is terribly surprising. After all, this is the guy who responded to a Colorado baker being required to abide by the state’s anti-discrimination law by wondering, “When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?”
To avoid any accusations that we’ve taken Perkins out of context, here’s today’s fundraising letter in full:
January 27, 2015
As I wrote to you earlier this month, 2015 could very well be the most dangerous year for Christians in American history!
President Obama seems willing to do anything to further his radical agenda—even if it means violating the Constitution to take away your religious freedom.
This President has clearly placed the religious freedom of millions of Christians like you in his sights. Why? You are among the people who are standing in the gap against his radical plans to transform America into a godless, secular country where government reigns supreme.
In these evil days it is more important than ever that you stand your ground for religious freedom!
2015 could very well be a make-or-break year for the future of religious liberty in America. Between now and 2016, President Obama, who knows his time to "leave his mark on history" is growing short, will go all-out. He will use the unlimited resources at his disposal in a drive to attempt to . . .
PUNISH Christians for opposing same-sex "marriage";
FORCE pro-life people to fund abortions through ObamaCare;
INDOCTRINATE your children with the help of Common Core;
BAN religious expression and free speech when it conflicts with federal speech regulations; and
STOP Christian-owned businesses from doing business with the government because they will not embrace the homosexual agenda.
President Obama and his supporters wrongly believe that our rights as Christian citizens are granted by, and can therefore be repealed, by government. They do not believe, as you and I do, or even as our Founding Fathers did, that . . .
Our rights are inalienable because they come from God.
We will never compromise on that truth. And that's why we can win so many of the showdowns. Truth has power when people of faith stand up for it. With God's help and your faithful support, FRC has been able to . . .
FREE persecuted overseas Christians, even when our own government would not—Christians such as Mariam Ibraheem who was imprisoned for her faith;
DEFEND the religious liberty of the brave servicemen and women in the U.S. military who are persecuted and punished because they publicly affirm their Christian values;
PROTECT employers and employees forced to leave their faith at the door when they enter public service;
UPHOLD natural marriage while countering the pro-homosexual agenda which wants to silence Christians and their objections to same-sex "marriage";
PRESSURE Congress to officially protect religious freedom and oppose the President's unconstitutional power grab; and
EXPOSE the relentless assault on religious liberty that has largely been ignored by the mainstream media.
Thanks to champions of freedom like you . . . No organization has done more to preserve religious freedom in Washington, D.C., than FRC!
But there is still much, much more that must be done to stop the assault on religious freedom that threatens the very future of our nation. I won't mince words: All of us must redouble our efforts to meet the incredible challenges ahead of us.
One of my heroes was 18th century conservative, Edmund Burke. In the British Parliament, he fought slavery and actually supported the American Revolution. A man of faith, he is credited with saying, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Today, I urge you to do something. Something great. Something lasting. Something having immediate yet ongoing impact. You achieve that when you financially stand with FRC. Thank you for refusing to sit by and "do nothing."
Standing (Ephesians 6:13),
P.S. Please renew your support to help FRC start 2015 strongly. Thank you. God bless you.
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.
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.
As we have been reporting, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has decided to hitch his apparent presidential hopes to a collection of Christian-nation extremists, teaming with the American Family Association, influential activist David Lane, and a collection of self-proclaimed prophets and apostles to host a prayer rally in Baton Rouge today meant to turn America “back to God.”
On her show last night, Rachel Maddow took a look at the array of “questionable characters” working with Jindal on his supposedly nonpolitical prayer rally:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming prayer rally has been organized by David Lane, a Christian-nation absolutist who believes America was founded by and for Christians and demands that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. The American Family Association, whose chief spokesperson believes the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections do not apply to non-Christians, is paying for the rally.
It’s clear that Jindal, a convert to Christianity, is positioning himself to win the support of conservative evangelicals for a potential presidential bid. (Lane for one has cheered Jindal’s recent remarks about Muslims.) But does Jindal see himself as a potential president for all Americans, or only American Christians?
Jindal’s initial letter inviting “friends and fellow patriots” to the event — on his official letterhead —declared, “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival, 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.’” Jindal’s letter declared, “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” What does that say to non-Christian Americans about how Jindal views them and their contributions to America’s future?
Jindal also recorded a video promoting the event as the spark that would help bring the “spiritual revival” America needs.
This week the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported that Jindal sent a letter to the other 49 governors inviting them to attend. “We need an appeal to heaven for heaven’s intervention over us,” he wrote. “We need to pray to the Lord that He will send spiritual revival to our nation.”
“This gathering will be apolitical in nature,” Jindal writes unconvincingly to his fellow governors, adding, “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”
Is Jindal unaware that not all his fellow governors are Christians, or does he just not care?
Jindal, of course, has the right as an American to participate in a rally like this. But it is wrong for him to use the power of his office to proselytize for his own faith and denigrate the faith of others. The critics of his prayer rally have the right, and good reason, to question what his promotion of this event says about Jindal’s judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and other constitutional principles.