Civil Liberties

Boykin: The Church Is Called To Occupy

Jerry Boykin last week sat down with Paul Crouch Jr. of the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s show First To Know to discuss a new movie based on his autobiography “Never Surrender.” Boykin, who earlier this month demanded that mosques be banned in America, told Crouch that the Church needs to become more politically active because of threats to religious freedom from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and MoveOn. He called on viewers to work “so that the Church emerges as the dominant influence in America,” adding, “I refuse to believe that we can’t, because God told us to occupy.”

Watch:

Boykin: The Church had the dominant influence in America. Today we have ceded that to other organizations like the ACLU and MoveOn.org and Code Pink and ACORN. It is time for the Church, for Bible-believing Christians regardless of denomination, to unify and understand that we truly serve the same God, Jesus Christ, and we need to come before Him and ask for His forgiveness for where this nation has gone and how we’ve turned our backs on God, and ask God to lead us to do our part, individually, to do our part to make a difference in America so that the Church emerges as the dominant influence in America in what we were called to be, again, the salt and light for this nation.

Crouch: And that in your opinion, that is possible? We can take this nation back, in your opinion?

Boykin: We absolutely can take this nation back and I refuse to believe that we can’t, because God told us to occupy.

Peter King Witness Called Groups Defending Gitmo Detainees "Anti-American," "Al Qaeda's Useful Idiots"

Rep. Peter King (R-NY recently announced the third in his series of hearings on the “radicalization of the Muslim-American community”—the GOP’s premier venue for demonstrating the kinds of attacks highlighted in PFAW’s latest Right Wing Watch: In Focus report “The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.” As part of his hearings, King plans to call Thomas Joscelyn of the staunchly neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a witness. Joscelyn, from his platform as a writer for the neoconservative Weekly Standard, has questioned the patriotism of organizations and individuals who spoke out against the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, calling the ACLU “Al Qaeda’s useful idiots” and claiming that lawyers who represented accused terrorists “openly opposed the American government.”

In a 2009 column, Joscelyn called the American Civil Liberties Union “Al Qaeda’s Civil Liberties Union” and “al Qaeda’s useful idiots” because the group produced the video “Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo,” which featured five Muslims who were imprisoned and abused in Guantanamo Bay and never faced charges. “The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the ‘war on terror,’” he wrote, “and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.” He went on to criticize the ACLU and the Obama administration for opposing the use of military commissions and supporting the right of due process under the law for accused terrorists: “The ACLU cannot tell the difference between us and our enemies--as its own propaganda shows. Therefore, it does not bode well for America's counterterrorism efforts that the Obama administration is in agreement with al Qaeda's useful idiots.”

Joscelyn also jumped on the right-wing smear campaign against Justice Department lawyers who once represented accused terrorists, writing: “Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.”

Joscelyn also charged the Center for Constitutional Rights with “crude anti-Americanism” because the group condemned bias against Muslim Americans. He also questioned whether accused terrorists should receive any legal representation at all:

CCR’s statement calls to mind the debate some months ago about the role of lawyers in the war on terror. Some have argued that by representing “unpopular” clients they are merely adhering to a noble legal tradition in the same manner as John Adams, who defended British soldiers years prior to the Revolutionary War. Granted, some lawyers probably are compelled by their own notions of legal principle. But not all of them are.

John Adams sought to create a free society in which all faiths can be practiced and none are enforced by the state. He succeeded.

This nation’s second president probably would not appreciate CCR’s smear of the nation he helped found. And CCR is not just standing up for the “right” of a terrorist to receive a fair trial. The organization doubts whether John Adam’s America can be fair to Muslims at all.

Who's Who in Today's DOMA Hearing

Cross-posted on PFAW blog

Senate Republicans have called Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, David Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund and Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as witnesses in today’s hearing on the “Defense of Marriage Act.” The groups these witnesses represent have a long record of extreme rhetoric opposing gay rights:

CitizenLink, Focus on the Family’s political arm, is a stalwart opponent of gay rights in every arena:

• Focus on the Family has consistently railed against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, demanding the discriminatory policy’s reinstatement.

• The group claims anti-bullying programs that protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth in schools amount to “homosexual indoctrination” and “promote homosexuality in kids.”

• The group insists that House Republicans investigate the Justice Department over its refusal to defend the unconstitutional Section 3 of DOMA.

The Ethics and Public Policy Center is backed by the far-right Sarah Scaife Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Koch- backed Castle Rock Foundation, all well-known right-wing funders.

• George Weigel of EPPC wrote in June that “legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause.”

• Ed Whelan spearheaded the unsuccessful and widely panned effort to throw out Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision finding California’s Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional on the grounds that Walker was in a committed same-sex relationship at the time of the decision.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which bills itself as a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, is dedicated to pushing a far-right legal agenda:

• The ADF has been active on issues including pushing "marriage protection," exposing the "homosexual agenda" and fighting the supposed "war on Christmas."

• The ADF claims 38 “victories” before the Supreme Court, including: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money on elections in the name of “free speech” and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000), which allowed the Boy Scouts to fire a Scout Leader because he was gay.


Is Marriage Equality Scarier Than War?

Writing in the right-wing Charisma magazine’s “Prophetic Insights” feature, David Aaron Richey of the Gulf Coast Christian Center suggests that the prospect of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples terrifies him more than wars, natural disasters, and potential nuclear accidents. While comparing homosexuality to bestiality, Richey says that religious leaders need to be more active in stopping legislators from “legalizing perversion,” just like Jesus would:

I'm not afraid of the many disasters that are happening simultaneously in our world. I'm not afraid of all the wars that are currently raging on almost every continent on the globe. The potential for nuclear accidents globally doesn't frighten me.

What terrifies me are good men and women saying and doing nothing when politicians we voted into office are making moral laws that contradict everything a Holy God stands for.

If someone wants to commit a perverted act such as having sex with a person of the same sex, then he or she is a free moral agent, and we cannot stop it. Conversely, when the governments of our land create laws that state perversion is legal, I am legally placed in a position to defend or explain perversion—or break the law (to pervert is to use a thing for some purpose other than what it was created for; God created male for female and female for male). As an ordained minister, will I now have to go against the law and subject myself to punishment for refusing to marry two people of the same sex?

Civil liberties—which is how proponents of legalizing perversion are categorizing same-sex marriage—ought not to infringe on the civil liberties of other citizens. I have a right to live in a community that does not force me to agree with and defend perverted sexual acts between two people.

If someone desires to indulge in bestiality, anal sex, homosexuality or any other perverted sexual act, why does it have to be made a law? More important, why have more than 50 percent of Americans bought into the lie that it has to be legalized?



I can imagine what Jesus would do if He were walking the corridors of our cities and states of our nation today. I can see Him going into the Sunday morning worship services of some of our churches and knocking the pulpit down and commanding the leaders to get out!

I have to speak out against sin! What about you?

Right Wing Round-Up

Newcombe: Taking Prayer Out Of Schools Will Make America Akin To Nazi Germany

Jerry Newcombe of Coral Ridge Ministries appeared on WallBuilders Live, the radio program of right-wing pseudo historian David Barton, to promote his new book about how the Constitution was supposedly shaped by the Bible. Speaking to Barton’s co-host Rick Green, Newcombe claimed that the goal of organizations such as People For the American Way, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation is to arrest and imprison people who pray in public. He points to D. James Kennedy, the founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, to argue that without prayer in schools, America will go down the road of Nazi Germany.

Newcombe: I think about that statement from George Washington, clearly in the context when he’s talking about Christianity when he uses the word ‘religion,’ and he says, what, of all that habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. He goes, in vain would that person be able to call himself a patriot who in anyway would subvert those great pillars of human happiness. So in other words, Washington was saying that it’s unpatriotic to undue these pillars.

Well that is exactly what these groups like the ACLU and People For the American Way, and so forth, with all their lawsuits, Freedom From Religion Foundation, whatever, with all their lawsuits. ‘Oh my goodness, this person said a prayer, a principal, oh heavens!’ Not only fire them but send them to prison, there have actually been attempts where they actually try to put people in prison for saying a prayer because they’re a public official.

Green: And it’s just as dangerous I think, especially in this environment with the Tea Party and everything and everybody’s getting involved and studying the constitution and whatnot, but there’s a strong libertarian bent that also leaves out religion and morality and doesn’t want God to come back into the equation, and I’m somewhat libertarian in many ways, but look, Washington said you cannot be a patriot and leave those things out so don’t leave that out. Don’t go to this, this kind of conservative version of the ACLU where we don’t want God in the equation at all, we just don’t want the government spending money, because that’s just as dangerous, isn’t it?

Newcombe: Well I don’t know if it’s just as dangerous, yeah, in the long run, yes, it is, in the long run it is. In fact, as D. James Kennedy once pointed out, in 1935, what was the most educated nation on earth? The answer was Germany. But that didn’t prevent Auschwitz from taking place. So there is such a thing as education, where if it’s devoid of God, it is dangerous.

CWA: Democrats Imposing “Homosexual Quotas” for Judiciary

After accusing President Obama of acting like a “despot” over his support of gay-rights, Mario Diaz of Concerned Women for America now claims that Democratic Senators are introducing “homosexual quotas” for judicial nominations. Currently there are two openly gay federal judges, both are women nominated by President Clinton.

Diaz says that Democrats care more about judges’ “sexual preferences” than their judicial philosophies, but at the same time maintains that Democrats only want judges who have a “radically liberal philosophy.” Since Obama has nominated J. Paul Oetken, who would be the first openly gay male federal judge, Diaz thinks the Democrats’ end-game is to “force men dressed as women down your throat.” Diaz writes:

Liberal Democrats have formed a strong allegiance with the lesbian, "gay," bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. President Obama is doing everything in his power to promote their agenda throughout all areas of government, and the judiciary is no exception.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said recently he "was shocked to learn there were no openly gay male judges on the entire federal bench," so liberals have set out on a crusade to rectify that, effectively implementing homosexual quotas.

I say "homosexual quotas," because that is the extent of their "commitment" for now. Although they talk about the LGBT community, they are not quite prepared to force men dressed as women down your throat ... yet.



Meanwhile, undeterred by his embarrassing episode with Alter, Schumer continued his search for a new "openly homosexual" candidate of his own. In this instance, otherwise qualified candidates need not apply. If you were not "gay," you did not meet his criteria. So he searched until he finally found someone. He recommended, and the president nominated, Paul Oetken (an even more in-your-face homosexual activist) to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Oetken's resumé includes a brief for the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association that helped bring about the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy decision at the Supreme Court. Schumer noted that Oetken is "a strong advocate" for the LGBT community and felt he needed to mention his work for the radically liberal Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. He has also written in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

Apparently, those are all great qualifications for a judgeship in the minds of Sen. Schumer and President Obama. Oetken's hearing was on March 16. Seeing the way liberal Democrats treat judicial nominations, one can understand why they are pushing for a process that would exclude a nominee's judicial philosophy from consideration. Apparently, the issue of judicial philosophy pales against the far weightier consideration of the nominee's sexual preferences.

Religious Right Group Says Anti-Bullying Programs Will "Homosexualize" Children

Rick Green of WallBuilders hosted Elizabeth Swanson of the Protect Kids Foundation, a virulently anti-gay group that opposes programs to protect children from bullying and harassment in schools. Like other groups such as Focus on the Family, the California Family Council, Mission America, and the Family Research Council, the so-called Protect Kids Foundation claims that gay-rights proponents “indoctrinating kids to accept and adopt LGBT lifestyles, starting in kindergarten.” David Barton, the head of WallBuilders, himself said that public school students “are getting homosexual indoctrination” and manufacturing the bullying problem.

According to the Protect Kids Foundation, gay-rights advocates are “obsessed with power” and “are determined to transform schools, kids, and culture into their hedonistic vision of a new utopian America…radically transforming society by using our children as pawns for social change.” The organization believes that the immense bullying faced by students who are gay or perceived as gay in schools is not a significant issue, accusing supporters of anti-bullying policies of “fabricating an issue and claiming victim status to gain power” and “indoctrinating impressionable school children.” In their words, the establishment of anti-bullying programs “stigmatizes the normal and normalizes what has for centuries been deemed deviant” and somehow takes away the rights of heterosexuals who don’t support attempts to “homosexualize their children”:

The civil rights issue actually runs in favor of the estimated 96% of the population who are not homosexual. Having LGBT activists homosexualize their children will trample upon their civil rights. For the first time in our history, America is faced with a powerful movement that defines its alleged “rights” in terms of the deprivation of the fundamental rights of others. As a result, the homosexual movement is depriving other Americans of civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

Swanson told Green on WallBuilders Live that people should “reclaim” the word 'homophobic,' which she believes, has unfairly become a “pejorative” and a “racial epithet.”

Rick, you said a very key word, 'tolerance,' that we're going to teach tolerance. But the redefinitions of the words go even further. So when you look at the definitions that GLSEN has put forward, there’s a document called Tackling LGBT Issues in the Schools, and it’s a document prepared jointly by GLSEN and Planned Parenthood. And interestingly, the definition that they use of the word “homophobe,” “homophobia” or a “homophobic level of attitude,” which is a word I do not normally use because that word in itself was created by an activist who wanted to get back at people that were disagreeing with homosexuality as a moral good. So to me the term is a pejorative term, a racial epithet if you would, that should not be used because you’re basically name calling people right there if you say ‘Oh, they’re homophobic,’ so that’s a word that needs to be reclaimed and not used in our every day vernacular when talking about this issue.

ADF Tried to Blame ACLU, AU for Its Unpopular Proposal

A few weeks back we took note of the on-going the controversy in King, North Carolina over the presence of a Christian flag that had been flying at a veteran's memorial in the city's Central Park.

City officials removed the flag as they tried to work out a constitutionally acceptable policy with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund.  The proposed solution that they hit upon is to create a lottery through which residents can request to fly any flag approved by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at one week intervals. 

But, of course, the idea of allowing a non-Christian flag to fly at the memorial is simply unacceptable to some: 

Carlton McKinney, a Vietnam veteran who lives just outside of King, asked whether people who bought tiles to help pay for the Veteran’s Memorial can pull up those tiles if a religious flag is flown at the memorial that they object to.

“I don’t feel right having a brick there representing me and having another flag that’s not a Christian flag,” McKinney said.

Local residents clearly are not happy wtih the proposal and Joe Infranco, the ADF attorney assisting the town, responded by blaming the entire thing on the ACLU and Americans United:

“It is certain that not everyone will be happy about this,” Infranco said. “But the policy complies with the legal guidelines and will not assist your enemies if they filed a lawsuit.”

...

“I understand how angry you are,” Infranco said last night. “I think it is important that your anger be focused in the right direction.”

He repeatedly said that if city officials allowed the Christian flag to remain at the monument, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State would sue the city and could probably win the lawsuit.

Then those groups would collect attorney fees from the city taxpayers, Infranco said.

Of course, those groups would win the lawsuit and collect fees because they are right and the current policy is unconstitutional. 

But instead of simply informing the residents of King of that, Infranco tried to place the blame for the situation entirely on the ACLU and AU. 

Christ The King: No Compromise Over Christian Flag In North Carolina

For months now, controversy has been raging in the town of King, North Carolina ever since a local veteran objected to the fact that a Christian flag was being flown at a veteran's memorial in the city's Central Park.

City officials eventually received letters from both the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and decided to remove the flag until they could work out a policy that was constitutional with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund.

And the decision to remove the flag in the interim set off protests

Many of the marchers’ T-shirts simply read, “Put our flag back.” Waving U.S. and Christian flags, and singing “Amazing Grace,” more than 5,000 people marched and rallied in the city of King yesterday morning to tell its city council to return the Christian flag to the Veteran’s Memorial in Central Park.

“The council didn’t get the opinions of the town of King and Stokes County,” said Pamela Swain Deszern, of Rural Hall, formerly of King. “This community stands together to support the Christian flag. It stands for God, peace, love, purity and the blood of Jesus.”

Working with the ADF, city officials finally came up with a policy last week that they felt was a fair and constitutional compromise: 

An attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund said that the city’s plan for returning the Christian flag to the Veteran’s Memorial is a fair compromise.

...

The King City Council approved a policy Monday night that eventually would allow a Christian flag to fly again at a memorial at the city’s Central Park as a part of a limited public display of religious flags recognized by the U.S. military.

Members of the Army Chaplain Corps wear four symbols on their uniforms — the Christian cross, the Jewish tablets and Star of David, the Buddhist dharma-chakra and the Muslim crescent, said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a spokesman for the U.S. Army.

There are also 41 religious symbols that can be placed on grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The city’s new policy will lay out which flags and symbols would be displayed at the memorial.

But, of course, the idea of allowing any non-Christian flag to fly is simply unacceptable:

A group formed to return the Christian flag to the King Veteran’s Memorial may file a complaint against the city to protest a policy that would allow additional flags to be displayed at the site.

...

Many of the foundation’s members are concerned that the city may allow religious flags such as the Muslim Crescent and Star flag, the satanic flag and Wiccan flag, all of which are recognized by the U.S. military, to be flown at the memorial, James said.

“There is room for expansion for this memorial,” [said Stephen James of King, an organizer of King Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Foundation.] “No one has asked for another flag to be put up there. But someone asked for our flag to be taken down.”

Under the compromise proposal, flags would fly one at a time on a rotating basis ... and so, as Americans United reports, Christian activists are working on a plan to completely monopolize the process for years to come:

This plan was revealed on the Facebook page, Christian Flag-King. The page serves to “educate, inform and update the King community and supporters to restore and keep the Christian flag flying at the Veteran’s Memorial in Central Park.” It has more than 4,000 members.

On Nov. 4, Christian Flag-King reposted a comment from Pastor Kevin Broyhill, who explained how the city can keep its sectarian bias in place. He wrote:

“The city will set the stipulations of who can fly a flag in honor of their loved one who has served in the Armed Forces. That is where the word ‘limited’ comes in. It restricts who can participate which will eliminate outsiders from taking over the pole. The idea is for Christians to fill up the reservation list and tie up the pole for years to come. This will ensure that the Christian Flag keeps flying. Calvary [Baptist Church] will buy several Christian Flags for people to use so that everyone doesn’t have to buy their own flag. We’ll even put it up for you!”

ACLJ, Spiritual Warfare, and Zimbabwe's Constitution

For a while now, we've been covering the fact that Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice has set up offices in Kenya and Zimbabwe for the purpose of shaping the draft constitutions that are being prepared in both nations.

Today, Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches has an important new report on the intersection between the ACLJ, "Word of Faith" spiritual warfare, and the future of Zimbabwe's government as demonstrated by a recent "Women, Weapons of Warfare conference" that took place in Kentucky:

At the heart of this women’s conference is the concept of “spiritual warfare,” the idea that God has anointed his “generals” to defeat Satan and bring the world to Christ. During this pre-conference prayer session, the group prays for a “mega-breakthrough” and for God to “take down the enemy.” It’s not a war of flesh and blood, conference speakers are quick to point out, but against the evil evident everywhere around us: in the “total moral decay” of America; in the nearby “liberal” Indiana University; in the unexpected frog in the throat of a speaker from Georgia; in the angry outburst of a woman whose husband had left her; and in the fear of failure recounted by speaker after speaker—until they found Jesus, that is. It becomes evident, as the speakers give testimony about their relationship with Jesus, that for many he is not only their savior, but someone they converse with to obtain instructions for most details of their lives. Many call him “Daddy.”

Bourland introduces special guest from Zimbabwe, Pastor Vicky Mpofu, her “spiritual mother” whom she likens to Moses, a figure “God has anointed” to “deal with an affliction on her people.” Mpofu is, says Bourland, “an oracle of God to bring a warning to our country.” She predicts that people, “will wake up and listen”; then she prays for there to be “more than enough to take care of all the children of Zimbabwe.”

...

Mpofu, who co-founded the WWW conference with Bourland, is the executive director of the African Centre for Law and Justice, a branch of the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by Pat Robertson in 1990 as a “Christian” answer to the American Civil Liberties Union ... The African Centre for Law and Justice is injecting itself into the political process of drafting a new constitution that will supposedly pave the way for new elections. The African Centre for Law and Justice is aiming to do in Zimbabwe precisely what the religious right seeks to accomplish in the United States: declare the country a “Christian nation” guided by biblical principles, outlaw abortion, and ostracize and criminalize LGBT people ... Together with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the African Centre for Law and Justice is working to garner the support of religious leaders and activists for constitutional provisions that would “affirm that Zimbabwe is a predominantly Christian nation founded on Biblical principles,” and require application of “the Laws of God in order to prosper and avoid chaos and destruction,” according to a pamphlet prepared by the EFZ and supported by the ALCJ.

Backed by the ACLJ, Mpofu has been traveling Zimbabwe to rally religious support for the EFZ’s constitutional proposals. “We’ve had a lot of support from ACLJ in America because for me to be able to go around the country to visit the ten provinces we’ve received some help financially and also we’ve received some help from the teams from America visiting and working with us,” Mpofu said. “The support has been tremendous.”

...

The EFZ/ACLJ pamphlet also calls for constitutional prohibitions on both abortion, by defining life as “beginning at conception,” and on attempts to reform the country’s laws criminalizing homosexuality. It calls for defining marriage “as being between a man and a woman” and for “any and all definitions of a family or marriages or relationships or legal unions that seek to include or permit same sex unions to be prohibited,” as well as for “sexual relations between partners of the same sex, bestiality, and other perversions to remain a criminal activity.”

Posner also posted video highlights of the conference, which has a Lou Engle/Cindy Jacobs sort of familiarity to it:

Be sure to read the whole thing.

The Catholic League Strikes Back At NYT, Blames Sex Abuse On Gays

Last week we noted that Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was outraged by the New York Times continuing coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, declaring that the recent article reporting that "top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys" was "the last straw."

Today, Donohue struck back ... with an ad in the New York Times:

As indicated in our New York Times op-ed page ad today, the pope is innocent. Indeed, he is being framed. No one has any evidence that he even knew of the case of Father Lawrence Murphy. Indeed, his office didn't find out until 1996 and then it did the right thing by summoning an investigation (it could have simply dropped an inquiry given that the statute of limitations had run out). No matter, the pope's harshest critics are blaming him for not defrocking a man whom he may never have heard of, and in any event was entitled to a presumption of innocence. Or was he? There are not just a few who would deny civil liberties protections to priests.

It is a sad day when al-Qaeda suspects are afforded more rights than priests. That this kind of intellectual thuggery should emanate from those who fancy themselves tolerant and fair-minded makes the sham all the more despicable.

You can see the ad itself here [PDF] in which Donohue tries to blame the entire thing on gays:

The Times continues to editorialize about the "pedophilia crisis," when all along it's been a
homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of
them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most
gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

Here's what's really going on. The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer who has made millions suing the Church (and greasing professional victims' groups like SNAP), so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage and women's ordination. That's what's really driving them mad, and that's why they are on the hunt. Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.

Religious Right Sues Over Hate Crimes Law

I am actually surprised that it took the Religious Right this long to file suit:

A conservative civil liberties group is challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 ... The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center says it elevates people engaged in deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law.

The lawsuit naming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of three pastors and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

All of the plaintiffs “take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching,” the Law Center said in a news release.

“There is no legitimate law enforcement need for this federal law,’ said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.

“This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election,” Thompson continued. “The sole purpose of this law is 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. It 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.”

...

The four plaintiffs are Michiagn Pastors Levon Yuille, Rene Ouellette, James Combs, and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

...

Robert Muise, who is handling the case, said the new law promotes two Orwellian concepts: “It creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior. And it creates ‘thought crimes’ by criminalizing certain ideas, beliefs, and opinions, and the involvement of such ideas, beliefs, and opinions in a crime will make it deserving of federal prosecution."

 

A Useful Explanation of Current Church-State Law

Today, the Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs released a document entitled "Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law."

The document's drafting committee included everyone from former staff members of the ACLU and People for the American Way to Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and representatives from Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice.  The document seeks to explain church-state law as it stands today:

The drafters’ purpose in crafting this statement is to help foster an accurate understanding of current law and improve our national dialogue on these issues. While there is disagreement among the drafters about the merits of some of the court decisions and laws mentioned in the document, the drafters agree that current law protects the rights of people to express their religious convictions and practice their faiths on government property and in public life as described in the statement. In other words, while this diverse group often disagrees about how the law should address issues regarding the intersection of religion and government, it agrees in many cases on what the law is today. More broadly, the drafters also agree that religious liberty, or freedom of conscience, is a fundamental, inalienable right for all people, religious and nonreligious, and that there is a need to correct misunderstandings about this right. The joint statement, which is formatted in a Q and A style, seeks to provide accessible and useful information for Americans about this area of law.

The document itself can be found here [PDF].  And here is the press release announcing the statement:

As the role of religion in public life continues to spark intense political debate and high-profile court cases, a group of diverse leaders from religious and secular organizations has issued the most comprehensive joint statement of current law to date on legal issues dividing church and state. Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Christian leaders from the evangelical, mainline and Catholic traditions joined with civil liberties leaders to draft Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law, released Tuesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

Are persons elected or nominated to serve as government officials required to place their hands on the Bible when making oaths or affirmations? May elected officials reference religious ideas and discuss their personal religious beliefs while operating in their official capacities? Are individuals and groups permitted to use government property for religious activities and events? Must secular nongovernmental employers accommodate employees’ religious practices? These are just a few of the questions that the diverse group of leaders sought to answer in the 32-page document.

“The role of religion in public life has long been a source of controversy and litigation,” said Melissa Rogers, director of Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, which produced the document. “We have brought together a diverse group of experts on law and religion to clarify what current law has to say about some of these matters.”

...

The 35 questions and answers that comprise the joint statement address religion and politics; religious gatherings on governmental property; religious expression in the workplace; and chaplains in legislative bodies, prisons and the military; and other issues.

Liberty Counsel Remains Silent on Lisa Miller's Disappearance

It has now been nearly a week since Lisa Miller disappeared with her daughter Isabella rather than abide by a court-order transferring custody to her former partner and still her lawyers at the Liberty Counsel remain silent.

You'd think that if your star client went AWOL with her child in violation of the law, you might have some comment to make about it.  But apparently that is not the case with Liberty Counsel, though they do have plenty to say about health care reform, judging by two press releases they have issued so far this week.  

Since Mat Staver and everyone else at Liberty Counsel are obviously back from vacation and presumably available for comment, maybe some reporter ought to call them up and find out what they have to say about Lisa Miller's disappearance ... especially since the longer she is missing, the more trouble she will find herself in:

A court order filed Monday in Bedford County requires that a 7-year-old girl at the center of a custody battle involving a Forest woman be surrendered to the woman’s former lesbian partner in Vermont.

Rebecca Glenburg, the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union attorney for Janet Jenkins, confirmed that the Bedford Juvenile and Domestic Relations court filed the order. She said it ensures that the Vermont court order requiring Lisa Miller to surrender the couple’s daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, is enforceable in Virginia.

“We expect Virginia law enforcement to take whatever actions they can to locate the child and make sure the custody order is complied with,” Glenberg said Wednesday.

Miller’s whereabouts are unknown and her lawyer, Mathew Staver, of Lynchburg-based Liberty Counsel, has been unavailable for comment on the case.

I'm pretty sure that if the roles were reversed and it was Jenkins who had disappeared with Isabella, Staver and everyone else at Liberty Counsel would have something to say about it.

The ACLJ's Growing Worldwide Reach

Back in 1990, Pat Robertson created the American Center for Law and Justice as a right-wing alternative to the American Civil Liberties Union here in the United States.  But over the last two decades, and especially in recent years, the organization has begun focusing on work overseas and opening offices in different countries, creating that European Center for Law and Justice, based in Strasbourg, France, and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, based in Moscow, Russia.

And now it looks like they are branching out into Africa as well, where the organization intends to play a role in helping draft constitutions in both Zimbabwe and Kenya:

The ACLJ does not take international expansion lightly. In fact, we do not expand unless we are called to. Each of our international offices - France, Russia, Israel, and Pakistan - was formed because the ACLJ was asked to come and help form organizations modeled on the ACLJ-USA. While each country expansion is unique, I wanted to tell you about why we're expanding into Africa, specifically Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Earlier this year, we were asked to accompany a women's ministry to Zimbabwe because the leaders of the ministry felt that our sophisticated legal assistance was needed. If you don't know much about Zimbabwe, know it is sanctioned by the United States, battling AIDS, and in the midst of an economic crisis. When we arrived in Zimbabwe in March, we were greeted warmly by citizens and government leaders. Now, just months after our first trip, we're opening a full-time office in the country's capital.

While our work in Zimbabwe focuses primarily on the country's constitution drafting process, we'll also be providing legal training and legal research facilities to attorneys throughout the country. Of course, one can never forget the hardships faced by the good people of Zimbabwe. We have taken proactive steps to assist orphanages and single mother's centers. In Zimbabwe, our mission is threefold: (1) help train attorneys while working on the draft constitution, (2) promote economic empowerment, and (3) provide humanitarian assistance when we are able. Part of the African Center for Law & Justice's launch in Harare is a neighborhood cleanup project in partnership with the City of Harare.

Our work in Kenya began a very different way. A good friend and pastor from a church in Iowa, who I met during the Iowa caucuses, introduced me to a well-known Bishop from Kenya who was interested in opening an operation similar to ACLJ-USA. Kenya, like Zimbabwe, is also going through a constitution drafting process and this Bishop wanted to make sure that he and the thousands of pastors that are part of his denomination knew how to properly comment on the draft constitution when speaking to their parishioners and the media. Because of Kenya's sizable Muslim population, estimated at about 10 million (roughly 1/4 of Kenya's population), this predominately Christian country is prepared to constitutionalize Kadhis' Courts (Kadhi is Arabic for judge) to handle matters such as family law, inheritance, marriage, and divorce. These would be official, binding courts in Kenya's judiciary.

The Bishop and his fellow pastors have decided to speak out against the constitutionalization of the Sharia Courts and have called on the ACLJ to travel to Kenya to setup a full-time legal and government affairs operation in Nairobi where we'll work with church leaders on this crucial issue.

The Next Raymond Raines?

I recall reading an Ann Coulter column several years ago which she dedicated to praising David Limbaugh's then-new book, "Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity." Among the stories of "persecution" that Limbaugh highlighted, and which Coulter also highlighted in her column, was the story of Raymond Raines:

In a public school in St. Louis, a teacher spotted the suspect, fourth-grader Raymond Raines, bowing his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to Raymond's table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal's office. The principal informed the young malefactor that praying was not allowed in school. When Raymond was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week's detention.

In turns out that back in 1994, Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders had made Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign of Christian victimization, despite the fact that it was entirely untrue:

"These are not isolated examples," said Gary Bauer, a former Ronald Reagan Administration adviser who heads the Family Research Council. The American Civil Liberties Union "has convinced educators that they cannot allow any religious expression at school," he said.

These complaints of hostility toward religion have circulated widely in conservative and Christian evangelical groups in recent years. Now they are fueling a drive among some activists to draft a broad amendment to the Constitution that would go beyond voluntary school prayer.

...

"These school incidents are fueling the fire," said Jay Sekulow, counsel for Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice.

Three weeks ago, Gingrich, in a television appearance, cited the St. Louis case as evidence that "it's illegal to pray," even privately, in schools today.

...

The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.

"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.

On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, because I have started seeing this story popping up on right-wing websites:

An 8-year-old boy has been suspended from school and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation after he drew a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross, his father claims.

A teacher at Lowell Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, Mass., allegedly said the second-grade student created a violent drawing, the Taunton Daily Gazette reported.

The boy's picture portrayed a crucified Jesus with Xs over his eyes to indicate that he had died on the cross.

The child's father, outraged at the school's action, asked to remain anonymous to protect his son. He said his boy drew the picture after returning from a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat.

He said when the teacher asked students to draw something that reminded them of Christmas on Dec. 2, the boy recalled his trip and created a portrait of Christ on the cross.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're violating his religion," he told the newspaper.

Of course, the full story gives an entirely different perspective:

City officials sharply disputed yesterday widely distributed reports that a local elementary school suspended a second-grader and required the boy to undergo a psychological evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.

The story, initially reported by the local newspaper, raised questions of religious bias days before Christmas and was broadcast by local television stations and other news media. Making the story more compelling, the boy’s father held court for much of the day at his girlfriend’s apartment, granting interviews to reporters from Providence to Boston, demanding that the school district compensate him for his family’s pain and suffering.

“It hurts me that they did this to my kid,’’ Chester Johnson, the boy’s father, said in an interview with the Globe. “They can’t mess with our religion. They owe us a small lump sum for this.’’

But school officials say that the account in yesterday’s Taunton Daily Gazette was rife with errors and that the father’s description of what happened is untrue.

“The report is totally inaccurate,’’ Julie Hackett, superintendent of the Taunton public schools, said in an interview in her office yesterday. “The inaccuracies in the original media story have resulted in a great deal of criticism and scrutiny of the system that is unwarranted.’’

Hackett said the student, age 9, was never suspended and that neither he nor other students at the Maxham Elementary School were asked by the teacher to sketch something that reminded them of Christmas or any religious holiday, as the Gazette and other media reported and the father suggested, although his story changed as he explained it.

She said it was unclear whether the boy, who put his name above a stick figure portrait of Christ on the cross, had drawn the picture in school, which his teacher discovered Dec. 2.

“Religion had nothing to do with this at all, 100 percent nothing to do with it,’’ Hackett said, adding that Taunton is known as “The Christmas City.’’

She said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s principal and staff psychologist. As a result, the boy underwent a psychological evaluation.

The right-wing myth regarding Raymond Raines was debunked back in 1994, but it was still being repeated by people like Coulter and Limbaugh nearly a decade later, and I suspect that we'll be hearing this story about a young student who suspended from school for drawing a picture of Jesus at Christmas for years to come.

Another Loss In The Right’s Anti-Gay Legal Crusade

Over the last several months, we've been chronicling episodes in which Religious Right legal groups have stepped in to represent former lesbians who have decided that their former partners ought to have no access to the children they had raised together. Liberty Counsel has been active in several cases, as has the Alliance Defense Fund.

Today, the Montana Supreme Court decided another case in which the ADF was involved, regarding another custody battle involving two women who could not get married, as Montana does not grant marriage equality, and were unable to adopt children together, as state law apparently does not allow that either. One of the women, Barbara Maniaci, adopted two children and the two women raised them together for ten years until they split and Maniaci married a man and then decided that her former partner should not have access to the children.

The state Supreme Court diagreed:

The Montana Supreme Court Tuesday upheld parental rights for a Missoula woman who'd been part of a same-sex couple that cared for two adopted children, saying she's entitled to joint custody of the kids.

Supporters of the 6-1 decision hailed it as a victory for all parents, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.

"This is a victory for families in all shapes, sizes and colors," said Betsy Griffing, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana.

Justice James Nelson also issued a special concurrence, in which he wrote a blistering denunciation of discrimination against homosexuals.

"Naming it for the evil it is, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is an expression of bigotry," he wrote. "Lesbian and gay Montanans must not be forced to fight to marry, to raise their children and to live with the same dignity that is accorded heterosexuals."

And, predictably, professional anti-gay activists are outraged:

Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, called the court's decision "egregious."

"Basically, what the court did in this decision is said that no longer does a parent have to be declared unfit for a third party non-parent to be able to abridge the natural parents' rights and authorities over that child," Laszloffy told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). "Now you just have to prove that that child has a psychological connection to you. And you can apply for, fight for, sue for parental rights and it's a crapshoot, you might get them, you might not."

While Laszloffy said he believed the issue of homosexual "rights" was not the original impetus behind the case, he noted, "I'm sure that the Montana Supreme Court is always looking for cases to push the homosexual agenda."

Attorney Matt McReynolds with the Pacific Justice Institute, which filed an amicus brief in the case, agreed.

"It actually seems like the plaintiff was favored in this case just because she was a lesbian," Reynolds told LSN. "It's fairly shocking how the Court wouldn't allow this person who had left the lesbian lifestyle to be freed from it - her and her children.

"It's very disturbing that someone who wants to get out of this lifestyle can still be trapped in it for years to come ... by someone who has no legal or adoptive relationship with the children."

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated

Catholic San Francisco reviews Bill Donohue's latest book, "Secular Sabotage: How Liberals Are Destroying Religion and Culture in America" and I have to say there is a sense of pride in finding out that we rank among the groups and people that he hates:

About saboteurs, for whom he uses “extremists,” “radicals” and “nihilists” as synonyms, Donohue writes, “The goal is not reform: it is an attempt to gut core beliefs and practices. And to a disturbing extent, the secularists have succeeded in turning things upside down and inside out.”

Among those he views as “the radical secular activists out to disable America” are the American Civil Liberties Union, Anti-Defamation League, People for the American Way, National Abortion Rights Defense League, Catholics for Choice and the Democratic Party. Lawyers and Hollywood are named, too. Regarding the latter, he uses films such as “Priest,” “Dogma,” “The Golden Compass” and “The Da Vinci Code,” and refers to the short-lived 1997 TV show “Nothing Sacred.” That chapter also includes an examination of the controversy that surrounded “The Passion of the Christ.”

Meet the Religious Right's Newest Target

Earlier this week, President Obama nominated Chai R. Feldblum to be Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It took the Traditional Values Commission all of three days to begin its smear campaign, starting with this piece entitled "If You Hate America You Have a Lawyer":

President Obama has picked Chai R. Feldblum to become a member of the Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency which enforces workplace civil rights laws. If confirmed, she would serve 5 years on the EEOC and issue edicts that will impact all areas of employment.

Feldblum isn’t known by most Americans but her career experience and employers make her a sort of general counsel to the Forces of Darkness. She has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign Fund and she founded something called the Moral Values Project, a "gender equity" group meant to sound like something conservative.

She is a lesbian and has played a major role in pushing the LGBT agenda in American culture for the past 20 years.

...

In short, she wants the gay agenda to trump the First Amendment and religious freedom to impose the gay agenda on all Americans – including those with strongly held religious beliefs about homosexuality.

“Once again, President Obama has demonstrated there is no one too radical to serve in his administration,” said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

“By picking Feldblum, he has signaled to his many fringe group fans on the Left that he will help them accomplish all of their goals to undermine the Constitution and overturn biblical morality and decency in America.

"Liberals hate America and so does a President who insists on appointing them to positions of power and responsibility within his already tottering administration."