Anti-immigrant activists William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC and James Neighbors of Overpasses for America warned yesterday that if President Obama takes executive action to prevent the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants, they will respond with “60s era sit-ins” and chain themselves to the doors of government offices charged with distributing identification documents.
“We’re going to need some very brave people who are willing to face arrest by peaceably conducting ‘60s era sit-ins to actually go in and block those offices that will be set up all over the place to start giving ID to these illegal immigrants,” Gheen said. “We’re going to have to march into those offices and try to physically stop them from doing what they’re doing, hoping that that will awake this nation.”
Neighbors one-upped him, promising to “chain myself to the front door” of offices issuing documents to immigrants so “they’re going to have to arrest me.”
“I’ll chain my arm to yours, brother, and we’ll put a big piece of PVC around them so they can’t cut the chain and we’ll chain ourselves to the door and do what we need to do,” Gheen responded.
Today a group of Michigan pastors held a rally to declare that they are getting “ready to go to jail” if a non-discrimination bill passes the state legislature. Stacy Swimp warned that the “anti-freedom” gay rights movement is bent on putting pastors behind bars, while another pastor claimed that his “rights are being threatened.”
The group came out to protest a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state’s nondiscrimination law, the 1976 Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which already covers categories including “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.”
Pastors and Christian leaders gathered on the steps of the state capitol Wednesday morning to demand the state legislature refuse to amend Michigan's civil rights act to include the LGBT community.
"The homosexual movement is an anti-freedom movement," declared Stacy Swimp, a right wing advocate and minister in Flint and Jackson. Swimp is also a convicted felon. He spent time in Michigan's prison system after being convicted in 1994 of assault with intent to murder.
Pastor Tim Berlin of Warren told the crowd, inclusion of the LGBT community in the civil rights act was "a dangerous slippery slope to an unknown destination."
Bridgeport minister R.B. Ouellette said the group did not seek "to deny anyone their rights," adding, "Our rights are being threatened."
… Swimp said if the amendment is passed, Christians will disobey the law.
"We must be ready to go to jail if we resist," he told those gathered.
As Brian has written about quite a bit, there is some strifein the ranksof birthers over the potential presidential candidacy of Texas senator and Tea Party hero Ted Cruz.
Birthers believe (falsely) that President Obama was born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and one who was not, and so, they claim, is not a “natural born citizen” eligible for the presidency. But many prominent birthers have made clear that they would be absolutely fine with the presidential candidacy of Cruz, who was actually born overseas to one parent who was an American citizen and one who was not.
Most mainstream legal observers hold that Cruz is still eligible to be president — just as Obama would have been even if he had concocted an elaborate scheme to lie about his place of birth — but the case highlights the hypocricy of the anti-Obama birther movement.
One prominent birther has at least decided to stay consistent. Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who now heads the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association — a guild of officers who believe the county sheriff has the authority to defy and arrest federal officials — said in a recent Blog Talk Radio interview that he believes Cruz is ineligible for the presidency.
In response to a caller who argued that the Constitution bars the Canadian-born Cruz from being president, Mack said, “That is correct, I try to say that to a lot of people. Ted Cruz cannot run for president of the United States.”
“I like Ted, I’ve met him several times and he’s kind of a friend of mine, but he can’t run for president,” he continued.
Earlier in the program, Mack discussed the president’s birth certificate, saying that it was “real easy to determine that that was a fake and a fraud,” and alleged that the people “who helped fabricate all of these things and people who know about” aren’t coming forward because they’re “all fearing for their lives.”
“I know the person who has done this, they’re all fearing for their lives, obviously, but it’s time to come forward,” he pleaded. “The more light you shed on this, the less likely you are to be killed or hurt or put away.”
Yesterday, the organization FCKH8.com released a video featuring a bunch of young girls railing against inequality and sexism while dropping lots of F-bombs in the process and Glenn Beck is predictably outraged, calling the video "despicable" and saying that the parents who allowed their daughters to appear in the video have scarred them for life.
"No parent says to a six year-old girl, 'Hey, hey, hey, you can say this,'" Beck declared. "Go ahead. It's cool. Use the F-word. Drop the F-bomb a few times. Nobody says that. Nobody! Nobody who is a decent parent ever would say that."
"It's despicable," he continued. "This is going to scar them. This is setting their feet on a path, they have shaped these girls and taught these girls something that you will never be able to unteach them":
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.
As if we needed more proof that Rep. Paul Broun’s likely GOP replacement in the House, Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, will be just as enthusiastic a Christian-nation advocate as his predecessor, we stumbled across this clip from a 2011 broadcast of Hice’s radio show in which he laments that the separation of church and state is turning government into God and thereby destroying America:
“The more we remove God individually from our lives or culturally, the more secular we will become, which means that in place of God we’re going to set ourselves up or we will set up the state, the government, to fulfill the role of God,” Hice opined.
“That’s the only option is that’s what happens, and that precisely is why secularism is not, cannot, be neutral,” he continued. “Secularism, the belief system in itself, by doing away with God in turn sets itself up as God, either as an individual or as a government. That’s where we’re moving. And we are experiencing what we are experiencing in this country simply because of our continual drifting away from our Judeo-Christian principles, drifting away from our awareness and understanding and belief in God for so long that now we are reaping the consequences.”
In an interviewwith Newsmax today, Rep. Steve King warned that an executive action by President Obama providing deportation relief for some undocumented immigrants living in the United States would perhaps irrevocably destroy “our constitutional republic” by turning the United States into a “lawless third-world nation” and Obama into a “king.”
“If the American people take that sitting down or lying down, then our constitutional republic has been destroyed to the point where putting it back together again in our lifetime looks to me like it’s a very difficult task,” he warned, adding that anti-immigrant demonstrators should “surround the White House” and “protest outside the gates of the president’s residence until he lets go of this unconstitutional action.”
The Iowa Republican added that if Obama were to take executive action, he would force a government shutdown and move to impeach the president.
“We know there is the ‘I-word’ in the Constitution that none of us want to say or act on but I would have never had said there will be no boots on the ground, so in this context, everything is on the table because our republic is on the table, our constitutional republic is on the table,” he said.
Texas, MacKinnon explained, was not included in his secessionist blueprint because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”
He added that the South had “seceded legally” and “peacefully” during the Civil War, but greedy Northerners like President Lincoln “waged an illegal war that was in fact not declared against the South after the South basically did what we’re talking about in this book now in terms of peacefully, legally and constitutionally leaving the union.”
After lamenting that “for whatever reason the leaders that we’re picking are deciding not to stand firmly for traditional values,” MacKinnon repeated his view that a new country should be formed, and even proposed an “interim name” for the ultraconservative breakaway nation: “Reagan.”
MacKinnon specifically cited advances in gay rights as a reason for Southern states to leave the U.S. and create a new country.
MacKinnon strongly defended the South for its role in what he called “The War Between The States,” saying that Religious Right activists should endorse the secessionist movement as a way to “protect our faith.”
On his "Pray In Jesus Name" program today, Colorado pastor and GOP state house candidate Gordon Klingenschmitt railed against a situation in Kentucky in which a t-shirt printing business was found to have violated the city's nondiscrimination ordinance when it refused to print up shirts for a local gay organization, which he cited to declare that it is the goal of gay activists to force Christians to violate God's law and end up in Hell.
Insisting that measures which bar discrimination against gay customers are a violation of the First Amendment, Klingenschmitt proclaimed that gay rights activists are driven by a demonic spirit that seeks to force Christians to "disobey God" so that they will wind up in Hell.
"They want your soul," Klingenschmitt said. "They won't be satisfied with your money. They don't really want the t-shirts. They want your soul. They want you to disobey God so that you go to Hell with them. It's not enough that they go to Hell for disobeying God, they want you to disobey God so that we all go to Hell. That's the Devil's goal in the end":
In a diatribe today about the legal dispute in Houston involving a group of pastors and right-wing activists who sued the city in an effort to repeal its nondiscrimination ordinance, Pat Robertson said that gay rights advocates are hell-bent on forcing Christians to officiate same-sex marriages and are essentially acting like terrorists.
It’s one thing to want to persuade somebody to believe like you do, that’s what Christianity is about, to bring the Gospel message and say this is good news and we’d like you to accept it. It’s something else to take the arm of the government to force somebody to do something that is against, contrary to their religion, and that’s what these homosexuals are trying to do. They are trying to force people who are Christians to marry them or else face jail, to make cakes honoring them or else go to jail and give their sermons over and divulge their innermost thoughts or go to jail, that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with.
These people are terrorists, they’re radicals and they’re extremists. No Christian in his right mind would ever try to enforce somebody against their belief or else suffer jail. They did that during the Inquisition, it was horrible, it was a black mark on our history, but it isn’t being done now. There’s no Christian group I know of anywhere in the world that would force somebody to do something contrary to their deep-held religious beliefs or else face criminal penalties, but that’s what the homosexuals are trying to do here in America and I think it’s time pastors stand up and fight this monstrous thing.
If the gays want to go out and do their gay sex, that’s one thing, but if they want you to force you to accept it and solemnify it by marriage then that’s a different matter and it’s an infringement on people’s religious belief. What’s being done in Houston is a gay—the woman they elected is a homosexual, she’s a lesbian, and she’s trying to force pastors to conform to her beliefs. It’s wrong.