Religious Liberty

Dennis Terry Continues to Play the Victim

Earlier today we noted that Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry is now trying to claim that he is being misquoted and his views misrepresented over the heated rhetoric he used on Sunday evening at an event with Rick Santorum when he told those who "don’t like the way we do things" that they can "get out" of the country.

Terry has now turned to CBN's David Brody to present his side of the story because Brody is the one Religious Right journalist that they can reliably count on to take whatever they say at face value and report it.

So here is the statement Terry released exclusively to Brody:

Sunday night our church was privileged to host Sen. Rick Santorum, a candidate in the Republican Presidential contest. As stated Sunday night, Greenwell Springs Baptist church has invited all of the candidates, including President Barack Obama to visit our congregation.

Prior to Senator Santorum speaking on Sunday night I gave a short exhortation to our congregation on why we as Christians should be involved in the political and public policy process. My message was based in 1 Peter 2:11-17. In my remarks I said the following:

“This nation was founded as a Christian Nation. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, there is only one God. There is only one God! And his name is Jesus!

I’m tired of people telling me I can’t say those words, I’m tired of people telling us as Christians that we can’t voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me if you don’t love America or you don’t like the way we do things I‘ve got one thing to say get out!”

These comments have been misreported saying that I suggested those who do not believe like me should leave the country. I said no such thing. I said those who do not love America and what she stands for should leave. Chief among the principles that America is founded upon is that of religious freedom, and that includes Christianity. I will not be made to feel as if we as Christians should apologize for our faith or that we should take the backseat as America is morally and spiritually being driven in the wrong direction.

Muslims, Hindus, people of different religions or no religions have the right to be here in America, but they do not have the right to force me to be silent while they work to transform our nation.

My comments on Sunday night were my comments as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The validation of my comments is found in the response by those who are screaming separation of church and state.

You will notice that Terry conveniently left off the intro sentence of his statement where he declared "I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation  ..." 

That is kind of a key element to understanding what Terry was saying since he was not simply saying that those who don't love America should leave but was specifically talking about liberals, claiming that liberals are the ones who are telling him he can't pray in public and that if they don't love America and don't share his views, they ought to "get out" of the country.

The video speaks for itself, as anyone who watches it can see.  But Brody, of course, simply accepts Terry's claims wholesale and reports that the controversy Terry has created is "a good example of how the mainstream media just doesn’t understand the evangelical worldview."

Dennis Terry Responds to Controversy: 'I Love America'

On Sunday evening, Rick Santorum joined Family Research Council President for an event at Perkins' home church, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, in Louisiana where Santorum and Perkins were seated on stage as Pastor Dennis Terry declared that America "was founded as a Christian nation" and those that disagree with him should "get out!":

I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob, there's only one God. There's only one God and his name is Jesus.

I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words. I'm tired of people telling us, as Christians, that we can't voice our beliefs or we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me, if you don't love America and you don't like the way we do things, I got one thing to say: Get Out!

This outburst has, not surprisingly, generated a good bit of news and forced Santorum to try to distance himself from Terry. 

Yesterday, WBRZ news in Baton Rouge interviewed Terry about the controversy he has created and, of course, he responded by claiming that "people are misquoting" what he said and "twisted and edited" his words because all he meant was that "I love America":  

You will notice that Terry never explains how he had been misquoted or had his words twisted .... and that is probably because the original video of Terry telling liberals and all others who don't share his right-wing views that they should "get out" of the country clearly speaks for itself.

Pastor Dennis Terry Introduces Rick Santorum, Tells Liberals and Non-Christians to 'Get Out' of America

Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry introduced presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins tonight in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a rousing speech railing against liberals and non-Christians and condemning abortion rights, "sexual perversion," same-sex marriage and secular government. Terry said that America "was founded as a Christian nation" and those that disagree with him should "get out! We don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammad, we don't worship Allah!" Terry, who has a long history of attacks against the gay community, went on to criticize marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and said that the economy can only recover when we "put God back" in government.

Watch:

Update: At the end of the event, Terry prayed over Santorum and asked God to "have favor upon Rick Santorum" and to "do a mighty work" in President Obama's life:

PFAW Report: The Mythical Martyrdom of Jerry Boykin

A new People For the American Way Right Wing Watch: In Focus report identifies the techniques used by Religious Right leaders to portray themselves as victims of an assault on religious liberty. The report, The Mythical Martyrdom of Jerry Boykin, examines the anti-Muslim extremism of Retired Lt. Gen. Boykin that derailed an offer to speak at West Point Military Academy, as well as the tactics he employs to legitimize his own religious and political agenda.

“Lt. Gen. Boykin’s claim that Muslims have no First Amendment rights and that the United States is at war with Islam are contrary to basic American values,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “His attacks against Muslims are so extreme he was even publicly rebuked by President George W. Bush. It is ironic that a man who so fundamentally misunderstands our Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of worship to all Americans is playing the victim of religious oppression. In reality, Boykin is just a part of the far-right effort to use the banner of religious freedom as cover for spreading fear and intolerance.”

The report, available here, explores five propaganda techniques employed by the religious right to obfuscate issues and recast their objection to specific policies as an attack on the religious liberty of Christians, including:

  •  Distorting and reframing issues as a question of religious freedom and free speech;
  •  Mischaracterizing one’s opponents to marginalize their concerns;
  •  Whitewashing history by diverting attention from one’s past incendiary statements;
  •  Perpetuating lies in order to portray President Obama as hostile to Christianity; and
  •  Propagating myths and spreading fear about Sharia law.

“Right-wing activists and even some elected officials are using religious liberty as an excuse to denigrate others’ beliefs and hijack the policymaking process,” continued Keegan. “Calling out those who spread intolerance to further their own political agenda will help us all live up to the ideals enshrined in the First Amendment.”

###

The Mythical Martyrdom of Jerry Boykin

A new Right Wing Watch In Focus report from People For the American Way about Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.) provides a case study in the Religious Right's propaganda techniques.

PFAW's Peter Montgomery: Republicans Using 'Religious Liberty' to Attack Obama, Women's Health

Attacking President Obama for his supposed “hostility” to religious liberty is the tactic du jour for congressional Republicans, according to a new piece in the Huffington Post by PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery.

After a widely-mocked hearing before the House Oversight Committee on contraceptive coverage, conservatives testifying before the Judiciary Committee continued to claim that the Obama Administration’s compromise on contraceptive coverage is not sufficient – and even if were, the Administration couldn’t be trusted to actually carry it out.

But many of their arguments relied on narrow definitions of the beginning of life that are at odds with medical standards and even with the rest of the religious community:

The arguments from Republican members and their witnesses boiled down to three main claims: the regulations requiring contraception coverage are unconstitutional burdens on religious organizations; the compromise to prevent religious organizations from having to pay for contraceptive coverage is only "an accounting gimmick" that does not resolve any of the moral or religious liberty issues; and the Obama administration has proven itself hostile to religious liberty and cannot be trusted to follow through on its promised accommodation.

...

Several Democratic members pointedly noted that Lori was not speaking for all Catholic leaders, placing into the record positive statements about the proposed compromise from the Catholic Health Association, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and other Catholic groups. Meanwhile, outside the hearing, other Catholic voices challenged the credibility of the bishops' religious liberty alarmism.

Others cited fallacious examples to attempt to bolster their claim of lacking religious accomodation.

Also on hand: more nonsensical analogies to join Bishop Lori's previous testimony that the regulations were akin to forcing a Jewish deli to serve pork. Committee Chair Lamar Smith asked whether the government could force people to drink red wine for its health benefits. (As Rep. Zoe Lofgren noted, no one is being forced to use birth control.) Religious Right favorite Rep. Steve King lamented that in the past Christians had "submitted" to Supreme Court decision on prayer in schools and the Griswold decision and the right to privacy "manufactured" by the Supreme Court.

The piece goes on to discuss how religious liberty does require some accommodation of religious beliefs, and striking an appropriate balance is a delicate task. But whatever the outcome, Montgomery notes, the courts will evaluate the regulation of competing interests, and “religious liberty in America will survive.” You can read the entire article here.

PFAW

The Right's Rules for Politicizing Prayer

Remember how right-wing leaders were outraged – OUTRAGED! - when President Obama supposedly politicized the National Prayer breakfast by talking about how his Christian faith influenced his approach to issues like progressive taxation? Such complaints from the likes of Ralph Reed – whose career has been devoted to politicizing faith – were clearly pushing the hypocrisy meter to its limits. As Kyle noted yesterday, Religious Right folks have been celebrating the prayer breakfast speech by Eric Metaxas, a biographer of the Hitler-resisting pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer, because Mataxas made a comparison between the Holocaust and legal abortion, suggesting that supporters of reproductive choice were modern-day Nazis – and certainly not Christians.
 
This morning a “special bulletin” from the dominionist Oak Initiative republished a National Review column from a few weeks ago that we hadn’t noticed at the time. The column by conservative author and producer Mark Joseph is one long extended gloat about just how political – and how anti-Obama – Metaxas’s keynote was. Joseph delights in Metaxas using the prayer breakfast to send “a series of heat-seeking missiles” in the president’s direction:
If the organizers of the national prayer breakfast ever want a sitting president to attend their event again, they need to expect that any leader in his right mind is going to ask — no, demand — that he be allowed to see a copy of the keynote address that is traditionally given immediately before the president’s.
 
That’s how devastating was the speech given by a little known historical biographer named Eric Metaxas, whose clever wit and punchy humor barely disguised a series of heat-seeking missiles that were sent, intentionally or not, in the commander-in-chief’s direction….
Joseph belittles Obama’s speaking of his faith, and giddily cites Metaxas, suggesting that Obama’s references to scripture were actually demonic.
Standing no more than five feet from Obama whose binder had a speech chock full of quotes from the Good Book, Metaxas said of Jesus:
 
“When he was tempted in the desert, who was the one throwing Bible verses at him? Satan. That is a perfect picture of dead religion. Using the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic.”
 
“Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing,” Metaxas added for good measure, in case anybody missed his point. 
Joseph also mocks Obama for discussing how other religions share with Christians the values contained in the Golden Rule: "Translation: Christianity is great and so are the other major religions, which essentially teach the same stuff."  In contrast, Joseph celebrates Metaxas for insisting on the uniqueness and centrality of Jesus and suggesting that those who support women’s access to abortion live apart from God and Jesus.
 
So, to recap the ground rules for the National Prayer Breakfast: President Obama talking about the values he as a Christian shares with those of other faiths, and how he understands Christian teaching about the responsibilities of those who have had good fortune = bad. Religious Right speaker insisting on the superiority of Christianity, and calling those who disagree with him demonic Nazis = good. 
 
Something to keep in mind next year.

 

Senate to Vote This Week on Extremist Health Care Amendment

The Senate will reportedly vote this week on the Blunt amendment, an addition to the transportation bill from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt that would, if it became law, throw the American health care system into chaos.

Blunt’s amendment, part of the right-wing overreaction to President Obama’s mandate that health insurance policies cover contraception, would allow any employer to refuse any employee insurance for any treatment on religious grounds. So not only could any boss refuse his female employees access to birth control, but any employer could refuse coverage for any procedure or medication he or she found morally offensive – including things like blood transfusions, vaccinations, or even treatment from a doctor of the opposite sex.

Not only would the Blunt amendment mean that comprehensive health insurance wouldn’t necessarily provide comprehensive health insurance – it would throw the country’s health care system into chaos, as each employer and each insurer carved out their own sets of rules.

The plan is bad public policy and antithetical to religious freedom, but it will probably get the votes of most Republican senators. In fact, the basic idea behind the plan is something that’s already been embraced by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

A large majority of Americans think that insurance policies should be required to cover basic reproductive care – including contraception – for women. The Blunt amendment would not only deny that care to women, it would go even further in denying health care to all American workers for any number of reasons totally beyond their control.

This is straight-up extremism: and American voters know that.
 

UPDATE: The Democratic Policy and Communications Center estimates that the Blunt amendment could put preventative care for 20 million women at risk.

PFAW

Gaffney Likens his Critics to the Ku Klux Klan

Frank Gaffney today in the Washington Times had strong words for his detractors, claiming that anyone who points out his malicious anti-Muslim bigotry is just like a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Progressives and Muslim-Americans aren’t the only ones who have documented Gaffney’s consistent attacks on Muslims, as even the American Conservative Union passed a resolution denouncing Gaffney and prominent conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell found in an investigation that not only does Gaffney routinely make completely baseless allegations about two of his rivals in the ACU, Suhail Kahn and Grover Norquist, but also that his “hatred” of Norquist is “fueled by the fact that Grover is married to a Muslim-American woman.”

Today Gaffney writes that the supposed encroachment of Sharia law in US courts has placed us in “the civil rights struggle of our time,” and says that anyone who opposes him are similar to the “Ku Klux Klan’s members” who “reviled an earlier generation of civil rights activists”:

In short, we find ourselves in what is, properly understood, the civil rights struggle of our time. Those who stand up for freedom against Shariah are quite literally protecting the rights of women, children, people of faith and other minorities sure to be abused by its misogynistic, intolerant and domineering doctrine. That means protecting, as well, Muslim-Americans who have come to this country to escape the long arm of Shariah law. In due course, though, Shariah’s repressive strictures would not simply be a threat to these communities. They would be a toxic blight upon all of us.

Ironically, today, it is defenders of our freedoms who are being denounced as “racists,” “bigots” and “Islamophobes.” Such terms are, in truth, being used in much the same way and for precisely the same purpose as the Ku Klux Klan’s members reviled an earlier generation of civil rights activists for loving blacks: to defame, threaten and isolate their opponents. We cannot, and certainly must not, tolerate the Islamists’ intolerance.

Muslims are, of course, free to practice their faith in America like anyone else - provided they do so in a tolerant, peaceable and law-abiding way. What they are not entitled to do, in the name of religious practice, is subvert our Constitution, deny us our rights or engage in sedition without facing concerted opposition - if not prosecution.

Today, every bit as much as in the civil rights struggles of the past, there are those who are prepared to go along with what they know is wrong in order to get along. Now, as then, the few who recognize that any such accommodation makes more certain the ultimate triumph of evil, may be vilified and even harmed. But now, as then, more and more Americans are emerging who see the danger posed by our time’s totalitarian threat - Shariah - and will do their part to secure freedom against it, both here and, as necessary for that purpose, elsewhere.

FRC’s Religious Freedom Expert would Force Raped Woman to Give Birth to Rapist’s Child

The Family Research Council bragged earlier this week that Jeanne Monahan, the head of its Center for Human Dignity, would be testifying today before Congress on how mandatory contraceptive coverage is an affront to Americans’ religious freedom.

However, FRC and allies like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have an odd of understanding of freedom. It’s really just the freedom for everyone to live according to their religion, and only a very narrow interpretation at that. Monahan, who holds a master’s degree in theology of marriage and family from the Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, is no exception.
 
In a blog post from January entitled “A Pro-Life Hero: Minka Disbrow,” Monahan wrote the following (emphasis mine): 
In 1928, as a young and innocent teenager, Minka Disbrow lived in South Dakota and worked on a dairy farm. One day while enjoying a picnic, Minka and a friend were jumped by three men and raped. Innocent to the degree that she didn’t comprehend how babies were created, months later the 17-year-old Minka was confused and surprised to find her body changing and growing. Her parents soon found an adoption agency. […]
 
In a similar story, Ryan Bomberger, of the Radiance Foundation was conceived in an act rape. Like Minka, Ryan’s mother chose to carry her child to term. Ryan now dedicates his life to promoting and protecting the dignity of every person. For a recent lecture by Ryan on the hope and joy of adoption click here.
 
All can agree that rape is a horrific act of violence that no one should ever undergo. But abortion after a rape robs an innocent victim of a very beautiful life.
While it’s incredible that Monahan would suggest that Minka Disbrow “chose to carry her child to term,” given the description she provided, the bigger issue is that she would force a woman to give birth to her rapist’s child.
 
In a column from last November, Monahan spoke out against providing the full range of medical care to female victims of human trafficking. Her overriding concern was that women who had become pregnant after being raped might choose abortion (emphasis mine):
Evidence exists that shows women who seek an abortion after rape add to their suffering: they now struggle with the coupled pain of the rape and the abortion; the abortion can become what some have termed “a second rape.”
 
Additionally, a recent peer-reviewed meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that women who choose abortion have a significant increase in mental health problems including depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviors. A situation where a woman is trafficked and becomes pregnant is extremely difficult, but such women deserve loving and honest care and attention, and abortion is not part of that.
Monahan’s writing makes it plainly clear that she is far less concerned about helping women and defending human dignity than she is with forcing all of us – women in particular – to live by the narrow religious views of herself and her employer. That’s what they really mean when they talk about religious freedom.
 
UPDATE: Here's a recent video of Monahan, who is testifying now, on her views on reproductive rights:
 

Franks: Obama Assaults Catholics While Apologizing to Muslims

Last week, President Obama issued an apology after NATO mistakenly burned copies of the Quran, which not only set off riots in Afghanistan while the apology predictably outraged Republicans here at home.

Today, Rep. Trent Franks joined Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon on the "Today's Issues" radio program, where all three voiced their disgust with President Obama, whom they accused of undermining the troops while appeasing the enemy.

Franks was so incensed that he even managed to compare Obama's apology for this incident to his push for contraception coverage in health insurance, saying Obama has no problem about blatantly insulting and assaulting Catholics while groveling before Muslim.  Franks then went on to warn Catholics that if Obama is willing to "crush under foot their religious freedom in an election year, God help us when he gets re-elected ... because you ain't seen nothing yet":

AFA: Vote to end ‘Evil’ Obama’s ‘all-out war on Christians’

It’s not exactly a surprise when the American Family Association, home of the consistently unhinged Bryan Fischer, uses over-the-top rhetoric in its attacks on President Obama.  Still, the latest fundraising letter from AFA President Tim Wildmon is memorably apocalyptic in tone:

In a very real way the year 2012 is as important to our nation as was the year 1776.

Just as then, this year Americans must choose between freedom and tyranny.

Wildmon goes on to call the administration’s recent regulations on insurance coverage of contraception “but the latest instance of the Obama Administration’s all-out war on Christians.”

Wildmon cites "the choice God put before the Israelites before He would allow them to enter into the Promised Land" and says

I believe God is asking America to make that same choice now:

              Life and good … or death and evil.

Wildmon suggests Obama’s re-election would bring God’s wrath on America:

 …everyone here at AFA is convinced that the elections this November will determine whether or not America will survive as a nation. After all, God has been long-suffering with us for decades now. How long will his patience last?

But, he says, if tens of millions of Christians register and vote for men and women who “respect our Christian heritage, will fight to protect religious freedom, and will work to build America’s crumbing moral foundation,” then

We can literally save America! As a nation we can stand before Almighty God and tell Him:

We love You, Lord! As a people, we will walk in Your ways and keep Your commandments!

The response card accompanying the letter seeks donation to “help elect godly leaders and to restore America to a nation that honors the one, true God.”

Santorum Says He Doesn’t Want to Impose His Values on the Rest of Us

On Meet the Press yesterday, David Gregory questioned GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum about the social issues – opposition to reproductive choice and gay rights – on which he has built his career. Stunningly, Santorum denied that he has focused on social issues and claimed, “There’s no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.”

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FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time. Why are you talking so much about these social issues, as they, as, as people ask about me about the social issues.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the...
MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk...
MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.


This is, of course, a bunch of baloney. While Santorum has spent a lot of time in his presidential campaign talking up regressive tax policies, irresponsible deregulation and anti-environmentalism, the core of his brand has always been social conservatism. His campaign has consistently and explicitly distinguished his anti-choice, anti-gay record with Mitt Romney’s in order to successfully appeal to culture-warring voters.

Santorum has also never shied away from wanting to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of the country. In a 2005 interview with NPR, for instance, he railed against the libertarian wing of the Republican party, saying, “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”

And here he is at a Republican debate in November discussing how our civil laws must “comport with God’s law”:

The former senator has said that states should be allowed to outlaw birth control and gay relationships, but supports the federal law banning recognition of legal same-sex marriages. He supports so-called “personhood” laws, which would not only outlaw all abortions regardless of circumstances, but would jeopardize legal access to contraception. He says that as president, he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, putting the careers of openly gay members of the military at risk. Yet he says he doesn’t want to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of us.

Santorum’s interview on Meet the Press is far from the first time he’s claimed that he’s not overly interested in social issues. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch found a speech he gave in 2008 in which he claimed that it’s liberals who have made sex an issue on the campaign trail. For liberals, he said, politics “comes down to sex” and that the Democratic Party has become “the party of Woodstock.”:

And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.
It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.
...
Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.
All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.
 

 

PFAW

Santorum Embraces the Religious Right's Latest Lie

We are getting really, really tired of hearing this now standard allegation from the Religious Right that President Obama is intentionally undermining religious freedom by refusing to use the phrase "freedom of religion" and replacing it with the phrase "freedom of worship."

As we have pointed out time and time again, this complaint it totally bogus, but that is obviously not going to stop the Religious Right from repeating it.

And it is certainly not going to stop Rick Santorum from adopting it and starting to work it into his presidential campaign:

Rick Santorum continued to talk about the separation of church and state one day before Michigan voters go to the polls on Tuesday, but insisted that this was not a distraction from discussing the economy and jobs but rather a core part of the argument he is making about economic and religious freedom.

Santorum also came close to calling Secretary of State HiIlary Clinton the "first lady," and then said that she and President Barack Obama are not for religious freedom but rather talk about "freedom of worship." Santorum said this term is an indication that Obama and Clinton want to tell churches and people of faith how they can live their lives when they are not in their place of worship.

Can we point out that just last week, both the State Department and the White House issued public statements roundly condemning Iran for handing down a death sentence for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, declared "freedom of religion" to be a fundamental human right (emphasis added):

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani's immediate release.

Jeffress: 'Neutrality is really Hostility toward Religion'

After stopping by Family Talk with James Dobson, Robert Jeffress appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show where he expounded on his claim that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Engel v. Vitale, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas is leading to the ultimate “implosion” of America. He said the first Supreme Court ruling which he argued set off “explosives” to the country’s “spiritual and social structure” is Engel, the Supreme Court decision which deemed public school-organized prayers unconstitutional.

Jeffress said the decision is wrong not because it barred the practice of government-sponsored prayers but because it doesn’t allow the government to endorse one religion over another. He acknowledged that many evangelical Christians rightfully do not want to pray non-sectarian, generic, government-composed prayers at school. Jeffress argued that his problem with Engel is that it doesn’t allow the government to endorse Christianity, maintaining that “neutrality is really hostility toward religion.”

Jeffress’ claim contradicts the stated argument of many Religious Right activists who advocate for school-organized prayer and a constitutional amendment overturning Engel and say that their stance has nothing to do with government endorsement of Christianity but simply about the need for children to pray.

Jeffress: I use the analogy of when we imploded about a million square feet of our facility at First Baptist Dallas and I learned a lot about how implosions work, what you do is you attach explosives to some key structural supports, you explode those supporting structures, there’s a delay and then the structure falls in on itself, it collapses. I said in this book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” there have been three explosive decisions by the Supreme Court in the last fifty years that have so destroyed the spiritual and social structure of our country that I believe our collapse is inevitable. We are living right now in that delay period between the explosions and the ultimate implosion. As you mentioned, that first decision was 1962, Engel v. Vitale, I know Christians say, ‘well that’s no big deal to remove a non-sectarian prayer,’ but it’s all the decisions that cascaded from that and it’s the basis on which that decision was made. It is impossible for the government to be neutral toward religion, neutrality is really hostility toward religion and especially the Christian religion.

Santorum: 'You’re a Liberal Something, but You’re not a Christian'

Over the weekend, Rick Santorum made news when he attacked President Obama's "phony theology." Santorum clarified that he was talking about the president's environmental record and not his faith, insisting that he was not claiming that Obama was not a Christian.

But back in 2008, Santorum had a slightly different view, which he related during remarks he delivered at an Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life event on "The Press & People of Faith in Politics." 

During the Q&A following his speech, Santorum was repeatedly asked about Barack Obama's Christian faith, which he asserted was simply "an avenue for power" for Obama while claiming there was a "conscious disconnection" between Obama's proclamations of faith and his stances on public policy issues.

In fact, said Santorum, there really is no such thing as a "liberal Christian" at all and anyone who doesn't share his right-wing views doesn't really have any right to claim to be a Christian:

[I]s there such thing as a sincere liberal Christian, which says that we basically take this document and re-write it ourselves? Is that really Christian? That’s a bigger question for me. And the answer is, no, it’s not. I don’t think there is such a thing. To take what is plainly written and say that I don’t agree with that, therefore, I don’t have to pay attention to it, means you’re not what you say you are. You’re a liberal something, but you’re not a Christian. That’s sort of how I look at it.

When you go so far afield of that and take what is a salvation story and turn it into a liberation theology story, which is done in the Catholic world as well as in the evangelical world, you have abandoned Christendom, in my opinion. And you don’t have a right to claim it.

During the same Q&A, Santorum also complained about his treatment at the hands of the press when he was in office, claiming that he was constantly referred to as an "extremist" or "fundamentalist" or "zealot" simply because he stood in opposition to "sexual freedom":

And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.

It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.

...

Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.

All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.

PFAWF Launches New Leadership Program For Young African American Ministers

PFAWF Launches New Leadership Program For Young African American Ministers

Petition Drop at Lowe's HQ -- 42,000 PFAW Members Call on Company to Reject Bigotry

People For the American Way joined with a multifaith coalition to deliver petitions containing over 200,000 signatures to Lowe's Home Improvement's corporate headquarters. 42,000 members of People For the American Way joined together to call on CEO Robert Niblock to reject the bigotry of right-wing extremists and reinstate its ads on TLC's "All-American Muslim."

Media Advisory: Detroit-Area Faith Leaders to Hold Demonstration Against Lowe's

DEARBORN, MI -- On Saturday, December 17 at 11:00 a.m., Christian and Muslim faith leaders, elected officials and community activists will hold an interfaith protest at a Lowe’s store near Dearborn, Michigan Saturday to protest the company’s decision to cave to anti-Muslim extremists and pull advertising from the TLC show “All-American Muslim.”

Lowe's pulled its advertising from the show after the Florida Family Association, a small right-wing fringe group, complained that it showed American Muslims "as ordinary folks just like you and me."

PFAWF to Lowe's: Catering to Hate Is Bad for Business, Bad for America

Lowe's Home Improvement's decision to pull advertising from TLC's "All-American Muslim" in the wake of an email campaign by a Florida-based right-wing hate group sets a dangerous precedent and emboldens bigots.
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