Religious Right 'Freedom And Liberty' Group ACLJ Backed Russian 'Gay Propaganda' And Blasphemy Bans

The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”

But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.

And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.

In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ's overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.

The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.

SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.

The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.

It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.

Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.

In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.

In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”

Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”

In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:

The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.

It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.

A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.

Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”

“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”

That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.

“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.

The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.

After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.

Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”

However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.

Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”

Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”

“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”

The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”

ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”

Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”

In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.

But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”

We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”

Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”

Puppinck reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidate Fears Government Is 'Destroying Our Churches'

Last week, Iowa conservative talk show host and Republican US Senate candidate Sam Clovis appeared on “The Steve Deace Show” to deliver a warning about the government’s encroaching “soft tyranny.”

Clovis, whose campaign has been endorsed by Deace, said the government is “taking away individual liberty, attacking the family and destroying our churches.”

Clovis has also picked up support from Rick Santorum, Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats and the Tea Party Patriots.

Porter: Jason Collins' Homosexuality Is 'Very Dangerous ... To Our Freedoms'

Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter was the guest on Gordon Klingenschmitt's "Pray In Jesus Name" program today where the two spent most of the discussion railing against the gay fascist thought police who are out to destroy any Christian that is willing to stand and proclaim their faith.

Somehow during the conversation, Porter and Klingenschmitt ended up talking about gay NBA player Jason Collins, whom Porter asserted proves that nobody is born gay because Collins has an identical twin brother who is straight and so Collins' "choice" to be gay, she asserted, represents a dire threat to the freedom of Christians in America.

"Quite honestly," Porter said, "he makes the case that you're not born that way. This is a choice he's made and it is a choice that is very dangerous physically and it's very dangerous, as we see, to our freedoms in the nation."

Klingenschmitt readily agreed, declaring that Jason is "demon possessed" which opens him up to being "addicted to all kinds of sin":

Matt Bevin Hails Tea Party Activists As New Abolitionists, Suffragists And Civil Rights Leaders

In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor on Saturday, Mitch McConnell’s GOP primary challenger Matt Bevin said that the Tea Party movement “has always existed” in America but has simply taken different forms, pointing to movements such as the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement as predecessors to today’s right-wing Tea Party.

His views on the future of the tea party movement: “The tea party has always existed. It’s nothing more than people who value the things that this nation was founded on…. And they come out of the woodwork when they feel that their nation is doing them wrong. And maybe it has to do with abolition of slavery…. [Abolitionists] fought for change, and change happened. The same thing happened with women’s suffrage, with the ability of women to vote. They were mocked and ridiculed for having that opinion…. But they didn’t give up because they were right. And the same thing happened when it came to Jim Crow laws…. People rose up then, too…. Throughout history, these are people who are the fabric of America. And they rise up, they serve the purpose that is needed … and then they fade back into the woodwork. They’ve always been there, they’ll always be there. They’re not looking for power, they’re not looking for a party, they’re not looking for fiefdoms. They’re looking to resolve issues…. Today it is the debt of the nation that is causing people to come forward. And then when it’s been addressed to the degree that it can be, they’ll fade right back into the fabric of society whence they came, and where they will always be.”

Bevin also took the opportunity to deny reports that he has ever supported cockfighting. Bevin was caught on tape telling a pro-cockfighting rally that he opposes “criminalizing behavior [that] is part of the heritage of this state” when asked by a cockfighting activist if he will “vote to support the effort to legalize gamecock fighting in the state of Kentucky.”

On speaking at a rally for cockfighting, which is illegal: “I’ve never been to a cock fight. I don’t support cockfighting. It’s illegal … for a reason, because society does not condone this…. At the same time, there are people who apparently would like to see it legalized, just as there are people who want to legalize the use of various drugs…. It’s their first amendment right to gather and talk about it.”

BarbWire Fears The Rise Of A Gay 'False Religion'

With more Religious Right activists maintaining that gay rights advocacy is a new religion, it came as no surprise that a columnist for Matt Barber’s website BarbWire believes that there is a new religion which he calls “Gaydeology.”

“Gaydeology,” Lee Duigon writes today, “has all the earmarks of a new false religion, as fierce and intolerant as Islam.”

Duigon hopes that “this perverse and evil code” will “wither up and blow away as suddenly as it descended on us.”

Nevertheless, this very new notion that all sexual behavior is permitted, and that homosexuality and transgenderism (or whatever you want to call it) are especially worthy of esteem–this perverse and evil code has swept the Western world and carried off its ruling class, its pseudointelligentsia, its culture-shapers, and all those people willing to be shaped by culture.

This has happened with terrifying speed. The world has seen nothing like it since the rise of Islam–and we all know what a great blessing that turned out to be.

Will we be stuck with this for the next 1,500 years? Or will it wither up and blow away as suddenly as it descended on us? God grant the latter.

In the meantime, what I have come to call “Gaydeology” has all the earmarks of a new false religion, as fierce and intolerant as Islam; and we have not yet seen the worst of it.

Larry Klayman Says A Revolution Is Needed To Stop Hillary Clinton From Winning The Presidency And Destroying America

While very few people showed up last year for Larry Klayman’s rally to overthrow President Obama, the conservative activist said Friday that a “Second American Revolution” is needed to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the 2016 presidential election.

If Clinton wins, Klayman writes, she will “usher in the death knell of the United States of America” and “subjugate the American people to political slavery.”

Conservatives – and I am one with a large libertarian streak as well – are prone to see doom around every corner. But the present state of the nation is such that one cannot over-exaggerate the peril America now finds itself in – for on the horizon looms the now odds-on favorite to be our next president, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The possible election of the female partner of the Bonnie and Clyde duo of Bill and Hillary Clinton would usher in the death knell of the United States of America. Having fought the Clintons tooth and nail during the 1990s, and having pursued them for their commission of a host of crimes, ranging from Whitewater, to China-gate, to Travel-gate, and Monica Lewinsky-gate to name just a few of the 40 or so of their misdeeds, I speak from experience.



Coming after the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama, a second “Clinton presidency” would be disastrous, not just because they would resume their practice of selling off anything of value for their political expediency – as they did with the Communist Chinese, with pardons, Commerce Department trade missions seats, overnight stays in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom, judgeships, commissionerships, Cabinet secretary spots and anything else under their control – but because they have no moral compass. For the Clintons, and Bill would undoubtedly be right there at Hillary’s side, anything goes to further their hubris and hungry thirst for power. And, while they are not black Muslim-sympathizers like Obama and his racist comrades, Hillary has a documented certifiable history of taking money from Islamic interests, not just the Communist Chinese. In effect, the entire country would be put up for sale at a Bonnie and Clyde auction to further subjugate the American people to political slavery under their rule.

Yes, by the standards of yesteryear, Richard Nixon is not a crook, and whatever his shortcomings, Tricky Dick at least was not a traitor. Hillary Clinton, following the lead of her corrupt predecessors and her own felonious history and continuing modus operandi (and Benghazi is just one recent example during her tenure as Obama’s secretary of state), would make Nixon look like a saint.

All of this is why We the People must wage our Second American Revolution now, before it is too late, to free the nation and ourselves of the scourge of the likes of the Obamas and Clintons. If we do not do it now, then all is likely to be lost.

Once Again, Glenn Beck Falsely Claims Our Founding Documents Came Out Of The Book Of Deuteronomy

The most infuriating thing about watching Glenn Beck's radio and television programs for four hours every day is listening to him constantly assert that The Blaze "is the only network dedicated to the truth" while he personally spews lies and misinformation over its airwaves day after day.

The worst part is that Beck constantly repeats lies on the air well after his claims have been debunked, as he did on Friday when he falsely asserted once again that  "thirty percent of everything in our founding documents comes from one book, the Book of Deuteronomy":

As Chris Rodda explained back in 2010 when David Barton first made this claim on Beck's program, this false statement is based on a 1984 study by a University of Houston professor who found that, among the documents published during the founding era, the Bible was the most frequently cited source, but that was largely because "most of these citations come from sermons reprinted as pamphlets; hundreds of sermons were reprinted during the era, amounting to at least 10% of all pamphlets published."

As Barton said back in 2010, 34% of the identifiable quotes from the thousands of document that were published during the founding era came from the Bible and Deuteronomy was the most frequently cited book among those quotes.

But Beck utterly misrepresents this time and again in order to claim that a one-third of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence came directly out of the Book of Deuteronomy.

It is entirely untrue, but Beck continues to repeat it over and over again while simultaneously portraying himself as a paragon of truth, honesty, and integrity.

In fact, later in this very same segment, Beck vowed to "always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday."

Apparently, that vow does not apply during the hours when he is broadcasting.

Joseph Farah Warns Gay Athletes Like Michael Sam Will Harm 'Innocent Children'

WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah is upset about “the recent flood of self-outings” by gay athletes. In a column today, Farah suggests that gay athletes stay closeted, while at the same time wondering “why the announcement of a preference and practice of a certain type of sexual activity is considered a heroic act.”

He concludes that since “it is especially cool to be a ‘gay’ athlete,” Americans must be valuing “abhorrent sex” over “innocent children.”

In his first major televised interview on the situation on his friend Arsenio Hall’s show, [Magic] Johnson vehemently and even pridefully denied being homosexual – and was cheered by the studio audience.



Why is this significant 23 years later?

Because today sports stars who say they are “gay” are treated like heroes by sports franchises, the media and the public as well. Back in 1991, that clearly wasn’t the case.



It was always cool to be an athlete. But now it is especially cool to be a “gay” athlete. Consider the recent flood of self-outings:

• Robbie Rogers became the first openly “gay” male athlete to play in a professional American sporting match last year when he took the field for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy during a match against the Seattle Sounders.
• Sheryl Swoopes, a retired WNBA star and coach of the Loyola University Chicago’s women’s basketball team, came out in 2005.
• Brittney Griner, selected No. 1 in the 2013 WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury, is openly “gay.”
• In an exclusive interview with CNN, former San Francisco 49ers player Kwame Harris came out as “gay” after rumors circulated in the media.
• Gareth Thomas of Wales spoke about being gay to a British news channel in 2009.
• Germany’s openly “gay” Judith Arndt won the silver medal in cycling at the 2012 Olympics.

What’s the takeaway? What am I suggesting?

• I believe there it is unhealthy for a society to obsess over sex – especially abhorrent sex. Let me say it loud and clear for all those professional athletes who have been forcibly muzzled by their franchises under cartel control.
• It wasn’t long ago that most Americans would have agreed that homosexual activity is sinful. I don’t know what the polls show today – or even if anyone would dare conduct such a poll. Today, our culture celebrates sin. I’ll let you decide for yourself if that’s a good thing.
• Innocent children are among the most enthusiastic consumers of sports. Has anyone besides Derrick Ward considered the impact this shift in cultural sensitivities has on them?
• And, lastly, can someone please explain to me why the announcement of a preference and practice of a certain type of sexual activity is considered a heroic act? I don’t get it. I’m eager to hear from those who agree or disagree.

Jesse Lee Peterson Calls For NFL Boycott Over Michael Sam's 'Mouth Kissing'

Conservative talk show host Jesse Lee Peterson is urging conservative Christians to boycott the NFL over Michael Sam’s “mouth kissing” and “abnormal behavior,” which he believes is “an attack on masculinity and the traditional family.”

Furious at “the disrespect and lack of judgment Michael Sam showed for families and children when he decided to pull that gross stunt on national TV,” Peterson told readers of his Sunday WorldNetDaily column that “if you’re still spending money on games, souvenirs and supporting the NFL brand and you call yourself a Christian, you’re a liar and the truth is not in you.”

He warned that Sam’s “abnormal,” “flamboyant homosexual lifestyle” will inevitably turn the US into a police state like North Korea.

Millions of American families were caught off-guard by the disturbing televised image of black football player Michael Sam and his “boyfriend,” Vito Cammisano, mouth kissing after the St. Louis Rams drafted Sam. The liberal press is celebrating Sam for being the first openly gay player in the NFL.

The world has become one upside-down place! Christians are being slammed while homosexuals are being lifted up. An example is the treatment of the Benham Brothers. David and Jason Benham were set to launch their new home-renovation show, “Flip It Forward,” on HGTV, but the show was yanked because of their pro-traditional marriage and pro-life views.



GLADD [sic] and other LGBT homosexual groups are using Michael Sam’s race and his sexuality to force black Americans and, by extension, all Americans to accept an abnormal lifestyle. This is not about tolerance or diversity – it’s an attack on masculinity and the traditional family.



Respect? Have the Miami Dolphins and the NFL lost their minds? What about the disrespect and lack of judgment Michael Sam showed for families and children when he decided to pull that gross stunt on national TV?

Michael Sam says he wants to be judged for his performance on the field, yet it’s clear his real passion is promoting his flamboyant homosexual lifestyle. Sam is hawking pro-gay, rainbow-colored “Stand with Sam” T-shirts and paraphernalia on his website.

He secretly inked a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s network to do a documentary about his “life” without notifying his new team. Thank God, as a result of the negative reaction from players, the documentary has now been postponed.

It’s not hateful for Dolphins player Don Jones to point out that Sam’s gay mouth kissing was “horrible”; it was spot on! The team’s overreaction is an attack on free speech, and it will have a chilling effect across the league. We expect this kind of assault on individual freedom in communist North Korea, not in the United States!

They want respect for their way of life, but they don’t want to respect our way of life. If they can kill free speech and silence these guys, they can silence you, too!

I don’t know how Christian men can watch the NFL after the league’s cavalier disregard for decency and after the punishment they’re dishing out to players who exercise their freedom of speech. If you’re still spending money on games, souvenirs and supporting the NFL brand and you call yourself a Christian, you’re a liar and the truth is not in you!

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/16/14

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