The Persecution Myth: New Report Takes On The Right's Deceptive Rallying Cry

Every day we hear figures on the Religious Right declaring that conservative Christians in America are being persecuted by a government that has embraced, in the words of Samuel Rodriguez, “secular totalitarianism.”

This narrative has helped to feed the opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights, and has even been used to advocate against the rights of religious minorities. And it continues even as Christians and members of other minority faiths face real persecution throughout the world.

The Right has managed to gain traction with this narrative by providing a never-ending supply of martyrdom myths. These stories of children banned from praying and of Christmas celebrations curtailed are carried to a wide audience by people like Fox News’ Todd Starnes — and are often quickly proved to be completely apocryphal.

In a new report, "The Persecution Complex: The Religious Right’s Deceptive Rallying Cry," we look at the machine that produces those myths and how they are then used to influence public policy:

The tales of horror keep pouring in: Two middle school girls are forced into a lesbian kiss as part of an anti-bullying program; an Air Force sergeant isfired because he opposes same-sex marriage; a high school track team is disqualified from a meet after an athlete thanks God for the team’s victory; a Veterans Affairs hospital bans Christmas cards with religious messages ; a man fixing the lights in a Christmas tree falls victim to a wave of War-on-Christmas violence; an elementary school student is punished for praying over his school lunch; a little boy is forced to take a psychological evaluation after drawing a picture of Jesus.

None of these stories is true. But each has become a stock tale for Religious Right broadcasters, activists, and in some cases elected officials. These myths – which are becoming ever more pervasive in the right-wing media – serve to bolster a larger story, that of a majority religious group in American society becoming a persecuted minority, driven underground in its own country.

This narrative has become an important rallying cry for a movement that has found itself on the losing side of many of the so-called “culture wars.” By reframing political losses as religious oppression, the Right has attempted to build a justification for turning back advances in gay rights, reproductive rights and religious liberty for minority faiths.

Read the rest here .

Peter and I also discussed the report in a conference call with PFAW members a couple of weeks ago. You can listen to that here:

Glenn Beck Warns Obama Is About To Snap, Will Start Putting Conservatives Into Internment Camps

On his radio broadcast today, Glenn Beck warned that too many crises are piling up all at the same time which will cause the press to finally turn on President Obama. That, in turn, will cause Obama to finally snap and start rounding up conservatives and putting them into camps.

Just as German society demonized Jews for years before the Nazis took power, Beck warned that this nation "has been watering some seeds" for nearly ten years to condition Americans to accept that "there are those enemies of the president that need to be punished."

Once the press turns on Obama, Beck warned, he "is not going to react well" because he has been coddled his entire life and was always treated like a god who was never to be criticized or questioned. 

Saying that Obama is like a spoiled child who is about to be told that he doesn't get a trophy just for participating, Beck predicted that Obama would respond by lashing out furiously at conservatives and putting them into internment camps.

"If you couple that [sense of entitlement] with power," he stated, "you're in trouble":

Rick Santorum Defends Rick Perry's Gay-Alcoholism Comparison, Says Hillary Clinton Isn't 'Bling' Enough

In an interview with USA Today’s Capital Download today, Rick Santorum defended his one-time — and possibly future — presidential rival Rick Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, arguing that homosexuality is indeed a choice.

Santorum, who has notoriously attempted to explain his opposition to marriage equality by speaking about beer and paper towels, told USA Today that while politicians should avoid making comparisons, Perry’s larger point was “accurate.”

Back in 2011, the former Pennsylvania senator back in 2011 insisted that homosexuality is a choice because he knows of “people who were gay and lived a gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore.”

Santorum also claimed in the USA Today interview that Hillary Clinton may not win the Democratic nomination for president if she decides to run because she is “old” and not “young and bling” enough for Democratic voters.

Regnerus Study Backer Acknowledges That Marriage Equality Creates Family Stability


Buried in a National Catholic Register report on the biannual meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops this week is the surprising revelation that Brad Wilcox, one of the researchers behind Mark Regnerus’ infamously flawed study of same-sex parenting, admitted to attendees that most social scientists have found “no difference” between “a stable same-sex family and a stable heterosexual family.”

And when a Washington state bishop compared same-sex marriage to cohabitation, Wilcox responded that data suggests “when same-sex marriage is legalized and it is given cultural support, it will be as stable as heterosexual marriage" and that married same-sex couples “are more likely to have stable relationships when the legal regime is more supportive of their relationships.” 

Following his talk, Wilcox took a number of questions from bishops on the floor of the meeting. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput asked why, if marriage is so valuable for economic success, same-sex marriage is being legalized in so many states.

"Most of the scientists would say that there's no difference ... between a stable same-sex family and a stable heterosexual family," replied Wilcox, noting that those scientists might consider stability the "key factor, not other issues that might relate to a child's well-being."

Yakima, Wash., Bishop Joseph Tyson asked why same-sex marriage is not considered by the studies Wilcox cited to be as dangerous as cohabitation.

"I think that the assumption ... is that when same-sex marriage is legalized and it is given cultural support, it will be as stable as heterosexual marriage," Wilcox replied.

"Is there data to back that?" Tyson asked.

"The data suggest that same-sex couples -- and this is really preliminary -- are more likely to have stable relationships when the legal regime is more supportive of their relationships," Wilcox replied.

This acknowledgment of mainstream social science’s assessment of gay and lesbian parenting is important coming from someone who helped to shape the Regnerus study, the discredited attack on same-sex parenting that is still cited widely by marriage equality opponents. We wrote last year:

Documents obtained by the American Independent this year revealed that the Witherspoon Institute was closely involved in Regnerus’ work through the go-between of W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor at the University of Virginia who at the time ran Witherspoon’s program on family, marriage and democracy, which had recruited Regnerus to conduct the study on LGBT parents. Regnerus in turn hired Wilcox on contract to assist him with data analysis on the study. Along with working with Regnerus on his skewed interpretation of the data, Wilcox urged Regnerus to release the study in time to influence the U.S. Supreme Court in its upcoming marriage equality cases. (Regnerus later signed onto an amicus brief seeking to influence both cases, which extensively cited his own research).

Wilcox’s remark echo the Proposition 8 trial testimony of David Blankenhorn, in which he acknowledged the stability provided by marriage for same-sex couples. Blankenhorn later became a full-fledged marriage equality advocate.

UPDATE: The bishops’ group has posted video of the conference. It’s clear from the video that Wilcox isn’t completely on board with the social science on same-sex marriage, but  does acknowledge the consensus among his colleagues.

Interestingly, Wilcox did not mention same-sex marriage at all until it was brought up in the question-and-answer session.

Paranoia-Rama: Straights Forced Into The Closet, Las Vegas 'False Flag,' Agenda 21 Destroying Iowa

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

Religious Right activists claimed this week that they are losing their “right” to not see gay people, even going so far as to compare their situation to the Holocaust.

5) It Ain’t Easy Being Straight

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon thinks straight people have it rough in America. In an email to the AFA’s members this week, Wildmon complained that heterosexuals are being pushed into the closet and forced to watch gay people kiss “mouth to mouth” on TV.

“Straight America is scared to death of offending or potentially offending gay, lesbian and transgender people and their powerful movement. It’s really embarrassing to watch,” he wrote, objecting especially to “Michael Sam’s mouth to mouth kiss of his lover on EPSN [sic].” Wildmon insisted that while he was grossed out by the kiss, he felt pressured by the media to enjoy it:

Sam and his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, decided to go "in your face," both to themselves (literally) and to those watching the draft on television including millions of young boys no doubt. After first kissing without debris, Sam then decided to put some cake in his mouth and go back after Vito for some more affection.

It was gross. But then I'm an old-school prude who doesn't believe men should be having sex with other men, so that is the reaction you would expect from people like me. I believe that kind of behavior is immoral, unhealthy and unnatural. If people want to live this lifestyle, that is their choice, but this idea of forcing people who disagree with it to applaud or else be shouted down, fined by the government or lose your job has gotten way out of hand.

“Now it is clear the sports world is also bowing the knee to GLBTQ,” he added. “We must get more Christians to wake up and fight back or we will lose our country” to public displays of “man-to-man mouth kissing.”

4) Gays Taking Away Freedom By Celebrating Pride Month

On a similar note, Linda Harvey of Mission America said this week that LGBT Pride Month celebrations have violated her freedom. She didn’t say which freedoms she lost exactly, but she definitely felt oppressed!

“Such conduct is nothing to be proud of,” she wrote in WorldNetDaily. “Their alleged freedom means loss of liberty for you and me.”

Harvey, who wants the government to ban such celebrations from taking place, warns that “this movement is causing collateral damage in America. Are we willing to open our eyes and see where this is going? More pride means less freedom for Christians. That means loss of virtue and a farewell to America’s soul. Isn’t it time for America to stop the parade?”

3) Holocaust Against American Christians Approaching

In case you thought the outpourings from Wildmon and Harvey were enough, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said this week that he’s pretty sure gay rights advocates will “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians” to concentration camps any day now.

In keeping with the theme, Southern Baptist Convention official Russell Moore worried about the prospect of pastors soon “going to jail” and Liberty Counsel attorneys Mat Staver and Matt Barber offered their own Nazi Germany analogy.

2) Blame Obama (And Facebook) For Las Vegas Shooting

No one should be surprised that Alex Jones claimed that the murder of three people in Las Vegas by two far-right activists hoping to launch an anti-government revolution was actually a false flag operation by Obama.

What is slightly surprising is that the InfoWars host claimed Facebook was in on the maneuver too:

1) Agenda 21 In Iowa

Right-wing conspiracy theories and absurd allegations about how the United Nations’ Agenda 21 will take away private property rights and force people into cities have truly gone mainstream in the GOP, with the latest musings about the non-binding environmental plan coming from the Iowa lawmaker who just won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.

Joni Ernst, a Republican state senator, suggested in a 2013 speech that the United Nations will use Agenda 21 to have Iowans thrown off “their agricultural land” and “consolidated into city centers.”

Larry Pratt And Alex Jones Warn Obama Is Training Military To Turn On The Tea Party

Last week, after a couple motivated by far-right ideology killed three people in Las Vegas, we wrote about the Right’s efforts in 2009 to quash a Department of Homeland Security report on violent right-wing extremism .

Right-wing groups pounced on the report because it dared to note that violent right-wing extremists — people like Timothy McVeigh and the Hutaree militia and abortion clinic bombers — are motivated by right-wing issues. The Right eventually made such a fuss that the DHS pulled the report utterly infuriating the conservative Republican analyst who had written it, who noted that his small team studying “non-Islamic domestic extremism” was later cut down to just one person.

But the myth that the Obama administration declared all Christian conservatives and Tea Partiers to be potential terrorists has lived on in the right-wing myth machine.

The story came up again earlier this month when Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Infowars.

Jones asked Pratt about a Washington Times report about a 2010 Pentagon directive — an update to a series of similar directives crafted under previous administrations — outlining how and when the military can use force to quell domestic unrest “in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible.”

Jones, of course, read this to mean that it is “official and has been confirmed” that the military is “training with tanks, armored vehicles, drones” to “take on the American people, mainly the Tea Party.”

“Well, he’s certainly not thinking that Muslims are a threat,” responded Pratt, “so he’s turning to his political opponents, declaring that they’re the enemy and ignoring the fact that Muslims from time to time have a tendency to go ‘boom.’”

Pratt then cited the 2009 DHS report to claim that the Obama administration has “fingered veterans as potential terrorists, people who believe in the Second Amendment, who are pro-life, who want to work for limited government.”

“I guess the idea of limited government really would terrorize a socialist,” he said, adding, “The enemy is freedom and they really are doing what they can to extinguish it.”

Jim Inhofe Says Obama Is 'Supporting The Enemy'

In an appearance on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” yesterday, Sen. Jim Inhofe deliberated whether President Obama is a terrorist supporter or a buffoon, and decided that he president is intentionally “supporting the enemy.”

“Never in my political career in my memory did it ever occur to me that we would have a president of the United States who would be doing things supporting the enemy,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “Our system isn’t set up for Congress to deal with this kind of a situation.”

Inhofe told FRC president Tony Perkins that he is even comfortable leaking information from classified briefings: “All of these hearings, these classified briefings like the one we had this morning, I almost don’t mind talking about what they said because they are all so orchestrated, they always have five or six people from the administration, all of them agreeing with the president.”

“People now are calling in on a regular basis and saying, you know what I knew this administration was incompetent but I believe this goes beyond incompetence, I believe some of it’s intentional, either they are working intentionally to undermine America or they simply have no clue whatsoever,” Perkins said.

Inhofe suggested that he agrees with Perkins that Obama is deliberately harming America.

“If I were to agree with that, I’d lose all credibility in going on because that is the first thing they’d accuse me of,” Inhofe responded. “But I’d have to tell you, those people have every reason to believe what they are believing now. This couldn’t just keep happening over and over again.”

Tony Perkins Warns Obama Turned America Into Sodom, Wonders If He Threatened John Boehner

The Family Research Council is not happy about the decision by the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to fly the LGBT pride flag this month.

Yesterday on his radio program, “Washington Watch,” FRC president Tony Perkins denounced the embassy’s decision.

“The rainbow flag over Israel — the last time they were flying that over Sodom and Gomorrah it didn’t work out so well,” Perkins said. “This administration is not just ignoring or indifferent to traditional values, it is hostile to them, it is hostile to the very things that made America great.”

Perkinbs also spoke to a caller who said President Obama is “Satan personified” and a “terrorist” who “threatened” House Speaker John Boehner “and his family” to keep him in check.

Perkins kept the allegation alive, telling the caller that “there could be something to that, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s come to that” while noting that “this president and his policies” have “dismantled the country morally and culturally.”

BarbWire Pundit Says Rick Perry's Anti-Gay Remarks Made Him Presidential Material

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism this week was widely regarded as a major political misstep … except, of course, by the fervently anti-gay pundits on MattBarber’s website BarbWire.

BarbWire senior editor Jeff Allen writes today that Perry’s comments defending the Texas GOP’s support for ex-gay therapy “demonstrate his resolute refusal to back down to the bullies of Big Gay” and should “inspire a few other Republicans to grow a spine.”

“That’s what presidential poise under pressure looks like,” Allen writes, also hailing the gay-baiting TV ad that Perry ran during the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

Of course, Perry finished in fifth place in the caucuses and later dropped out of the race.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Perry’s comments resulted in a “smattering of groans and hisses” from the crowd. Perhaps his fearless fortitude, displayed while speaking in the hostile territory of the “gay” Mecca of San Francisco, will inspire a few other Republicans to grow a spine — but don’t hold your breath.

During his last presidential bid in 2012, Perry also emphasized his Christian faith in a campaign advertisement entitled “Strong” that debuted late 2011 in Iowa. The spot condemned the military’s perilous repeal of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy which prevented open homosexuals from serving in the military.

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when ‘gays’ can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry declared in the advertisement. And he also pledged to stand against the “liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

Fortunately, Gov. Perry’s latest remarks demonstrate his resolute refusal to back down to the bullies of Big Gay. That’s what presidential poise under pressure looks like.

Pat Boone's Bad Dream Of A 'Black/White' Communist Becoming President

Maybe it was all a dream! How else, Pat Boone wonders in his WorldNetDaily column today, could America not see that “a secret cabal of Communist manipulators” had trained a “young black/white college student, originally school in Indonesia” to be a cunning politician after getting him "admitted to Columbia and then Harvard”?

Boone writes that following a stint as a community organizer, this “young anti-American man” in “an astonishing coup, was ‘elected’ president of the United States” despite the “absence of a valid birth certificate.”

The “audacious charlatan” governed with the help of his “fellow Marxists, socialists and Muslim activists,” Boone writes. 

I don’t dream much, but when I do, it’s usually dramatic – and memorable. Did you ever have a dream so vivid, so stark, that it seemed real, even after you woke up?

That’s what happened to me last night. I had just finished reading Tom Fitton’s electrifying book “The Corruption Chronicles,” a factual, documented masterpiece. My dream was actually a nightmare, a horrifying, surreal vision of contemporary life in America that was so sickening and unbelievable that I woke up in a cold sweat. And the worst part is that I still, to this minute, can’t decide if it was a dream – or real!

I dreamed that a spell was cast over the whole United States, affecting almost all of its people, especially those of voting age.

A secretive cabal of Communist manipulators, trained in the malevolent disciplines and Machiavellian methods of Saul Alinsky, had taken an interest in a young black/white college student, originally schooled in Indonesia, who’d sought out Marxist professors (as he revealed later in his own autobiographical book) at Occidental College.

In this young Marxist they felt they had a potential candidate for high elective office, first at the state and then possibly on the national level. He had a good mind, was glib and articulate and, according to a fellow Marxist at Occidental, was surprisingly angry. He was ready to foment a total overthrow of what he called “the colonial oppressor of Third World countries”!

This cabal had lots of money, so they got the young man admitted to Columbia and then Harvard, where he somehow was maneuvered briefly into the president’s chair at the Harvard Law Review. He never wrote anything of record (except calling the Constitution “a flawed document”) or distinguished himself in any way, but it looked good on a future resume.

Then, in my dream, this young anti-American man had brief jobs as a “community organizer” in Chicago, utilizing the disruptive, divisive and deceptive tactics he’d learned from Alinsky, and then went in a blinding scramble from state senator in Illinois to the U.S. Senate for a couple of low-profile, near invisible years … and then, in an astonishing coup, was “elected” president of the United States!

I say “elected” because the electoral process was so corrupted by another Marxist organization named ACORN that the outcome would always be questioned.

Four years went by, he was re-elected, and systematically went about wrecking the constitutional structure of the nation, piling up trillions of unpayable debt on the hapless taxpayers, bamboozling and intimidating both houses of Congress, shredding American influence all over the world, appointing fellow Marxists, socialists and Muslim activists to 33 “czarships” (unconstitutional regulators answerable only to him and not to Congress), and in countless ways overturning and abandoning the rule of law in the country.

At this point, I woke up trembling, in a cold sweat, furious but weeping for my country. Surely it couldn’t be true; America could never let this happen! Our Congress would surely have acted long before an audacious charlatan could have literally taken over the government and bankrupted a nation, economically and morally! Surely they … surely the courts … surely the Constitution … surely the press … surely the millions of people on every level of American life would have risen up and … and … the smoking guns were everywhere, in plain sight, right out on the table. Any one of them would disqualify a man from the presidency! How many would it take?
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