Religious Liberty

Anti-Mormon Activist Warns 'We Cannot Afford a Mormon Experiment' with Romney

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out and Newt Gingrich is merely going through the motions, it is all but inevitable that Mitt Romney is going to secure the Republican presidential nomination.  As such, Religious Right leaders have seen the handwriting on the wall and begun lining up to support him.

But not everyone is willing to do so, partially because of Romney's long history of changing his political principles to win office, but also because of his Mormon faith.  As Bryan Fischer made clear yesterday, there is a not insignificant percentage of the Religious Right base that simply will not vote for a "spiritually compromised candidate" like Romney

Similarly, Steve Deace is an influential right-wing radio host in Iowa who endorsed Newt Gingrich but is now struggling with the prospect of having to support Romney.  And while Deace appears to be willing to at least entertain the idea of voting for Romney out of necessity simply because of the issue of Israel, he is equally willing to give air time to vehement anti-Mormon critics like Tricia Erickson to make the case on his program that being a Mormon in and of itself demonstrates that Romney's judgement cannot be trusted:

I think that the leader of the free world, especially in the times that we're in today, we cannot afford a Mormon experiment. We have to have someone at the head of our country with sound judgment. If this man does not have the judgment to be able to discern fact from fiction on the most basic things like the horrifically false religion that he's in. If he doesn't have the wherewithal to understand that he has lived a lie all of his life and continues the lie, then how do we trust the judgment of this man to put him at the head of our country with everything that's going on? I mean, if he cannot even figure out fact from fiction in the way that he's been raised, how can we trust his judgement at the head of our nation?

Barton: America is Like England in the 1500s Except Christians Aren't Being Burned at the Stake ... Yet

On yesterday's episode of "WallBuilders Live," Rick Green and David Barton were discussing the issue of religious liberty and the role the issue played in the formation of the United States when Barton asserted that, right now, America is "like England back in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds" except that we are not burning people at the stake ... yet:

This is a really important thing, to be able to have the presence of religion there but now we're seeing a hostility that we've not [seen before.] This is like England back in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, quite frankly. Now, we're not burning people at the stake yet, but we are imprisoning people for their faith and to say that in America, that's unbelievable.

Fischer: Electing a 'Spiritually-Compromised Candidate' Like Romney Will Weaken America

As Brian noted in his last post, Religious Right leaders are starting to grudgingly coalesce behind Mitt Romney not that it appears all but certain that he is going to be the Republican presidential nominee.

But Bryan Fischer is not necessarily among them. 

Fischer has made no secret of his anti-Mormon views, saying that the First Amendment does not apply to Mormons and warning that electing a Mormon president is a threat to the "spiritual health" of the nation.

Romney, for his part, actually called out Fischer for his bigotry during last year's Values Voter Summit, which only solidified Fischer's distrust and dislike of him.

So when Rick Santorum announced yesterday that he was finally dropping out of the race, Fischer dedicated much of his program to discussing developments and declaring that many Religious Right voters will not be able to support a "spiritually compromised candidate" like Romney ... and that this "is perfectly understandable" because worshiping false gods will weaken the nation:

The reality is that there are just a number of Evangelicals that just will not vote for Romney because they do not want to put somebody who believes in a different god in the White House, which is perfectly understandable. He's a spiritually compromised candidate; that's the only way to put it. If he goes into the Oval Office, he will be the first polytheist that we've ever had as a president. Mitt Romney would be the first non-Christian president that we've ever had; the first president that we've ever had that did not emerge from a stream of historic Christian orthodoxy.

So this would be unprecedented, and it would be unprecedented spiritually. You remember the prophets, this is one of the things that they were toughest on the kings about is departing the worship of the true and living God for alternative gods. This was something that weakened a nation and so we're looking at that, if Mitt Romney becomes the president, we have a spiritually-compromised president who will be the first polytheist to ever hold the Oval Office, the first president who has ever believed in a multiplicity of gods, the first president who has ever believe that man can become a god, and that God didn't used to be God, he used to be a man who progressed to godhood. So this would be completely uncharted waters for America.

From Beck to Romney, Religious Right Comes to Terms with Mormon Leaders

Last year evangelical writer and WORLD Magazine associate publisher Warren Cole Smith created quite a stir with his column pledging not to vote for Mitt Romney if he wins the Republican nomination because of the boost his presidency would provide to Mormonism. “You can't say that his religious beliefs don't matter, but his ‘values’ do,” Smith explained, “If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually—but inevitably—be warped.” He pointed to the Mormon doctrine of “continuing revelation” to explain Romney’s history of flip-flops and warned that a Romney presidency “would serve to normalize the false teachings of Mormonism the world over,” drawing more people into the LDS church and away from orthodox Christianity.

But it seems that few other prominent faces of the Religious Right are agreeing with Smith’s stance.

Televangelist James Robison on Daystar told a listener that she should favor a non-Christian over a Christian just as people favored Ronald Reagan, a Hollywood actor, over Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, because Reagan better understood biblical principles:

Even Robert Jeffress, the preacher who attacked Mormonism as a “cult” at the Values Voters Summit and said Christians should prefer evangelical Rick Perry over Romney, made a similar case on Janet Parshall’s radio show in January when he said a “non-Christian who embraces biblical principles” is preferable to “a professing Christian who espouses unbiblical principles”:

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer said he will vote for Romney even though he believes a Mormon president would undermine the “spiritual health” of the U.S., and Rick Scarborough of Vision America, repeated his antipathy towards Mormonism in an interview but made clear that “if the choice comes down for me between a Mormon and Barack Obama, I’d vote for the Mormon every time.”

But the acceptance of Romney as the leader of the GOP by the Religious Right’s leadership may not come as a great surprise, as the same people have largely embraced another high profile Mormon, Glenn Beck.

Beck has become a favorite of Religious Right figures, leading his religiously-infused Restoring Honor rally at the Lincoln Memorial and introducing his clerical Black Robe Regiment, promulgating ‘Christian nation’ history with David Barton and keynoting last year’s Values Voters Summit.

The turnaround when it comes to working with Mormons, who many evangelicals see as “cobelligerents” in the culture wars along with conservative Roman Catholics and Jews, can be seen in Kirk Cameron’s own about-face.

Cameron featured Beck at the kickoff event for his movie Monumental, about how America needs to return to its theocratic Pilgrim roots, where Beck told Cameron that God confirmed to him in prayer that what they are doing is right and wants them to warn the country about America’s impending collapse.

Beck’s appearance and discussion of his talks with God in Cameron’s Religious Right “documentary” may raise eyebrows since Cameron in 2006 co-hosted an anti-Mormon film with evangelist Ray Comfort. In the show, Cameron said that it was likely Satan who appeared to Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, as the Angel Moroni and led him to golden plates that became the Book of Mormon, and even said that Mormons are “following a false Jesus” and “will end up in Hell forever.” “If you’ve ever spoken to a Mormon, sometimes you know how frustrating it could when they use the same words you do but they mean something different and you’re not sure how to finish the conversation,” Cameron said.

Watch highlights of Cameron’s anti-Mormon film here:

Despite Cameron’s dogmatic warnings against Mormonism, he is now actively working with one of America’s leading Mormons. Similarly, just as many on the Religious Right once denounced the Mormon faith, they are now prepared to vote for Romney over President Obama.

P.S. Obama is a dictator. Love, Phyllis Schlafly

Here's an addition to our recap of right-wing direct mail, this time from Phyllis Schlafly, the long-time anti-feminist and all-around right wing activist.  Like most of the other recent mail, the letter from Schlafly is about raising money with over-the-top rhetoric about the tyranny being visited upon America by President Obama. "He's taken control of your healthcare and stolen your money. Now he wants to dictate to your church," warns the envelope. "Stop Obama's War on Faith." Inside, more of the same:

The culture of dicatorship is rearing its ugly head. The forcef of imperial government and totalitarian treatment of American citizens are growing stronger every day.

 

Under the guise of "health care" and "tolerance" and "equality," Barack Obama is using all the power he can grasp in order to control how we live and what we believe. He is exploiting eveyr legal and illegal loophole to consolidate governmenet power into his own hands.

He's trying to control our standard of living by restricting our energy use. Hey's trying to control theminds of our children by imposing a national curriculum in the schools. And now, he's using his hated ObamaCare health law to assault religious liberty....

Let there be no doubt about it. Barack Obama is at war with the vast majority of Americans who believe in God and the freedom to worship. Now it the time for you and me to stand up for religious liberty....

If Obama wins this battle and gets his way, religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, colleges, and charities all over America will be forced to pay for abortion drugs, sterilization procedures, and contraceptives.

 

If Obama gets by with thisk you can be sure that the next steps will be ordering priests, ministers and rabbis to perform same-sex marriages. God will be stripped out of the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" will be banished to the dustbin of history."

Cass Exposes Obama's Racist, Marxist, Heretical, Un-Christian Theology

Last year, Gary Cass of the ironically named Christian Anti-Defamation Commission announced that his organization would be releasing monthly videos leading up to the 2012 election laying out ten "irrefutable proofs that Barack Obama is NOT a Christian!"

Today, Cass released the third video in this series, explaining that Obama is not a Christian because he only converted to Christianity because he believed "it supported his radical Marxist values." Obama, Cass asserts, embraces and promotes "heretical, Marxist, black liberation theology"  which teaches that white people are evil despite the fact that "hundreds of thousands of white were causalities in the Civil War that liberated blacks": 

 

Illuminating Rick Santorum and the Religious Right’s Vision for America

Last weekend, People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch captured video of prominent Louisiana pastor Dennis Terry introducing Rick Santorum at an event with an incendiary sermon in which he insists that those who don’t believe that America is a Christian nation “get out” of the country.

The video quickly went viral, and Santorum was forced to distance himself slightly from Terry’s remarks, saying “I didn’t clap when he said that.”

As PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery wrote in a column for the Huffington Post, the incident illuminates the Religious Right worldview that Santorum and supporters like the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins – himself a parishioner of Terry’s – embrace:

While the media may understandably focus on Santorum's garbled economic message, his Sunday evening appearance is worth a longer look -- for what it tells us about Santorum and the Religious Right movement that is propelling his campaign.

The church at which Santorum appeared is Baton Rouge, La.'s Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which Family Research Council President Tony Perkins describes as his home church. Perkins, in fact, was introduced at the event as a "dear friend" of Pastor Terry and as a church elder. Perkins, whose FRC has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for relentlessly promoting false and malicious propaganda about LGBT people, said of Greenwell Springs Baptist, "there is not a better church in the United States of America than right here." So in Perkins's mind, there is no better congregation than the one that applauded wildly at Pastor Terry's "Christian nation" assertions and his seeming suggestion that people who do not worship Jesus Christ should find some other country to live in.

Peter discussed his column and the Religious Right movement behind Santorum’s candidacy in an interview with TruthDig radio in Los Angeles yesterday. You can listen to the interview here.
 

PFAW

Liberty Counsel Will Defend Scott Lively

Last week, a Ugandan gay rights group sued anti-gay activist Scott Lively in US court for allegedly violating international law over his role in Uganda's proposed "Kill The Gays" bill.

So naturally the good folks at Liberty Counsel have stepped up and agreed to defend Lively in this case: 

Liberty Counsel has agreed to represent Rev. Scott Lively, an evangelical pastor who was sued in a Massachusetts federal court by a foreign group called Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG).

...

The suit is a direct attempt to silence Rev. Lively because of his speech about homosexuality and pornography ... Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented: “This lawsuit against Rev. Scott Lively is a gross attempt to use a vague international law to silence, and eventually criminalize, speech by U.S. citizens on homosexuality and moral issues. This suit should cause everyone to be concerned, because it a direct threat against freedom of speech.”

Former Rep. Hostettler Laments Church’s Extraction from Government, Agrees Schools are Hiding Truth about the Constitution

Former Indiana Rep. John Hostettler lamented yesterday that the “church has extracted itself from government,” creating a vacuum filled by “those adversarial to biblical truth.”

Hostettler, talking with Truth in Action Ministries’ Carmen Pate on the organization’s radio program, agreed with Pate that the education system is controlled by “those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say” – namely, as Hostettler, puts it, that “government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.”

Hostettler represented southwest Indiana in Congress from 1995 through 2007, and is now president of the Constitution Institute, which dedicates itself to providing state legislators and others with “a greater understanding of the United States Constitution.”

Pate: You know, it seems to me, Congressman, it’s very clear that the founding fathers intended for the government’s role to be limited, and they based this Constitution on biblical principles and truths. Yet we know that those on the left, the secular humanists, see the importance of a big government, not limited, because then they can wield more power over the people.

Not to sound conspiratorial here, but I wonder if there have been attempts perhaps by those secular humanists, those on the left, to really not allow or to take away some of the opportunities for learning more about what the Constitution has to say. Say in our public schools, you mentioned in school you didn’t learn all these things. I didn’t either. It wasn’t until I got out of school and started working with pro-family organizations that I really dug into the Constitution.

Have we allowed the education of our children to be given over to those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say?

Hostettler: Well, Carmen, you’re exactly right. That is what has happened. Because the church has extracted itself from government and we have fundamentally forgotten, as Dr. Kennedy taught, that government is an institution ordained by God. Just as the family was ordained by God, and just as the church was ordained by God, government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.

So we have extracted ourselves from it – the church, the body of Christ has – we’ve handed it over to others, and we’ve forgotten that just has nature abhors a vacuum, politics and public policy and government likewise abhor a vacuum. Someone is going to occupy that space, some philosophy is going to occupy that space. And it’s either going to be fundamentally a philosophy that is sympathetic and is agreeable to biblical truths, or it is a philosophy that is adversarial to biblical truth. It’s going to be one of the two. And as you pointed out, it has been a philosophy overall that is adversarial to biblical truth.
 

Dennis Terry and Crew Try to Scrub the Web of his 'Get Out' Sermon

As we have noted several times already, Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry is now desperately trying to deny that he told those who disagree with his views that  there is only one God and America was founded as a Christian nation that they should "get out!" of the country during an event at his church on Sunday featuring Rick Santorum.

Terry has been claiming that his words were taken out of context and misreported ... but we have the video that proves otherwise.

Now, you would think that if Terry really believed that we had taken his statements and presented them out of context, he'd be encouraging people to go and watch the original video in an effort to prove that . But that does not seem to be the case, as all of the videos from Sunday's night's event with Rick Santorum have now been removed from the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church's UStream archive:

On top of that, Greenwell Springs' Worship Minister Jeremy Dailey posted a message on his Facebook page yesterday asking that all church members "remove from Facebook and/or any other public site, any video showing footage from the Sunday Evening service of March 18, 2012":

None of this really does much good, considering that we have the orginal video that we recorded live during the event and our video featuring the "highlights" from Terry's introduction is still posted on YouTube for the whole word to see:

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:
 
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