matthew shepard

Bachmann And Gingrich Will Address Anti-Gay Organization That’s "Proud To Be A Hate Group"

Likely presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich are slated to address the Minnesota Family Council’s annual “Reconnecting Faith, Family and Freedom” fundraiser. Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that the event will “be held May 17 at the Minneapolis Hilton. Tickets are $100.” In the invitation, Gingrich lauds the MFC for “vigorously defending our God-given freedom in our communities, schools, at the Capitol and the ballot box” and asks people to “join me and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in rediscovering God and the vital role of faith and family in our American freedoms.”

The MFC is the state’s leading Religious Right group and has increasingly become one of the most strident opponents of anti-bullying bills. Tom Prichard, the MFC’s president, maintained that LGBT youth commit suicide because they live an “unhealthy lifestyle” and that anti-bullying programs are ways to have children “indoctrinated in homosexuality.” Prichard also criticized Gay Straight Alliances, saying “it’s sad and harmful for kids to celebrate homosexuality when in fact it’s not a healthy lifestyle;” he went on to claim that Matthew Shepard’s murder wasn’t a hate crime and that his “death served an important ideological purpose for homosexual activists.”

The MFC’s Barb Anderson told anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera that “the greatest threat to our freedom and to the health and well-being of our children is from this radical homosexual agenda which is just so pervasive” and that she considers it “a badge of honor to be called a hate group.” Anderson also blamed supporters of gay rights for school bullying, saying that they “are the ones that are contributing to an atmosphere that can even increase bullying as more kids get into this kind of a lifestyle” and that “homosexual behavior is one of the most hazardous behaviors that kids could get into and start practicing.”

Anderson also warned of “targeted” students and that “pro-gay training[s]” are coming “like a tsunami.” In January, the organization hosted a legislative summit with pseudo-historian David Barton featuring courses on “Bullying bills: The homosexual agenda in your child’s public school.”

TVC Front Group Frightens Seniors By Claiming The Bible Has Been Outlawed

One of the unintended results of running this blog is that we sometimes get mistaken for the Religious Right groups that we monitor.  If you do a Google search for "Faith 2 Action" or "Generals International," for example, you see that a link to our posts about those groups tend to show up near the top of the search results.  As such, we frequently get emails mistakenly sent to us that are intended for them ... usually, angrily demanding that they stop mailing and/or calling them seeking donations.

And nine times out ten, these emails are intended for the Christian Seniors Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AARP but is really just a front group established by the Traditional Values Coalition to try and trick seniors out of the money. The CSA doesn't even have a website and if you didn't know it was a project of the TVC, you'd never be able to contact them, which is why we seem to get so many angry emails intended for them.

And, as if we needed more evidence that the CSA is a shady group willing to mislead donors in order to raise money, yesterday the Southern Policy Law Center's Hatewatch blog put up a post noting that their latest fundraising letter claims that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act has outlawed the Bible:

The anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) once again is turning to a highly valued traditional device to raise funds: fear and falsehoods.

The Christian Seniors Association (CSA), a front group of the TVC, recently sent out a fundraising letter claiming that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 2009, which added sexual orientation to the classes protected by federal hate crime legislation, “makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature.’” The letter further claims that “under this law, criticism of homosexuality is deemed discrimination — just like racism,” and ultimately, the intent of the law is to “outlaw Christianity.”

The SPLC kindly sent us a digital copy of the letter and that is indeed what the CSA is claiming:

TVC Front Group Frightens Seniors By Claiming The Bible Has Been Outlawed

One of the unintended results of running this blog is that we sometimes get mistaken for the Religious Right groups that we monitor.  If you do a Google search for "Faith 2 Action" or "Generals International," for example, you see that a link to our posts about those groups tend to show up near the top of the search results.  As such, we frequently get emails mistakenly sent to us that are intended for them ... usually, angrily demanding that they stop mailing and/or calling them seeking donations.

And nine times out ten, these emails are intended for the Christian Seniors Association, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AARP but is really just a front group established by the Traditional Values Coalition to try and trick seniors out of the money. The CSA doesn't even have a website and if you didn't know it was a project of the TVC, you'd never be able to contact them, which is why we seem to get so many angry emails intended for them.

And, as if we needed more evidence that the CSA is a shady group willing to mislead donors in order to raise money, yesterday the Southern Policy Law Center's Hatewatch blog put up a post noting that their latest fundraising letter claims that the Hate Crimes Prevention Act has outlawed the Bible:

The anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) once again is turning to a highly valued traditional device to raise funds: fear and falsehoods.

The Christian Seniors Association (CSA), a front group of the TVC, recently sent out a fundraising letter claiming that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) of 2009, which added sexual orientation to the classes protected by federal hate crime legislation, “makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature.’” The letter further claims that “under this law, criticism of homosexuality is deemed discrimination — just like racism,” and ultimately, the intent of the law is to “outlaw Christianity.”

The SPLC kindly sent us a digital copy of the letter and that is indeed what the CSA is claiming:

In Minnesota, Religious Right Fights Anti-Bullying Policies, GSA’s

On Friday we asked whether Focus on the Family would hold its ground in opposing anti-bullying programs that take into account the harassment of LGBT students in light of the five reported suicides in September that resulted from anti-gay bullying. Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that the Minnesota Family Council, like Focus on the Family, is stepping up its fight against anti-bullying programs and support groups like the Gay-Straight Alliance:

The Minnesota Family Council (MFC) is pushing back against efforts to improve the climate for LGBT students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, where community members are mourning suicides by four LGBT students in the last year. The real issue is “homosexual indoctrination,” not anti-gay bullying, says MFC’s Tom Prichard, who says the students are dead because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.” MFC’s campaign against anti-bullying education comes as national religious right groups mount a similar campaign in the aftermath of nearly half a dozen suicides by LGBT students around the country in the last month.

Prichard asserts that the suicide death of 15-year-old Justin Aaberg was not due to anti-LGBT bullying. Aaberg took his life in July, and his mother and friends say anti-LGBT bullying played a factor Prichard claims that “homosexual activists” are “manipulating” his death to get homosexual indoctrination programs into the school district.



“I don’t think parents want their kids indoctrinated in homosexuality,” he said, adding that Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), often the only safe space for LGBT students on campus, should be removed from schools. “It’s sad and harmful for kids to celebrate homosexuality when in fact it’s not a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Prichard went on to float in his blog the discredited claim that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not actually an anti-gay hate crime:

The manipulation of this tragedy is reminiscent of the Matthew Shepard tragedy. Shepard a homosexual was brutally murdered by two men who robbed him. It was asserted that Shepard was murdered, because he was homosexual. It turns out that wasn't the case. No matter. Shepard's tragic death served an important ideological purpose for homosexual activists.

Focus on the Family, unsurprisingly, had words of praise for the group’s efforts:

“Once schools are forced to include special categories for things like sexual orientation or gender identity in their policies, that has been used as leverage to get in homosexual-themed curriculum for kids as young as kindergarten [and to introduce] so-called ‘diversity training’ for high school students and teachers,” said Candi Cushman, education analyst with Focus on the Family. “So this just becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in the school.”

Update: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) tells The Advocate: "After all the tragedy that Anoka-Hennepin school district students have endured this year, I find it unbelievable that anyone would suggest that bullying is not a problem."

Prichard, however, stands firm: "People say [gays] have a higher incidence of [mental health problems] because they’re not embraced, or because they’re ostracized. I don’t think so,” Prichard said. “It’s unhealthy behavior."

Targeting Gays, Oklahoma Senate Mistakenly Strips Hate Crimes Protections For Race and Religion

Remember a few weeks ago when the Oklahoma Senate passed an amendment declaring that the state would not cooperate with any federal hate crimes investigation and even mandating that files of potential hate crimes be withheld or destroyed so that they cannot be used to assist in any such investigation? 

The purpose of the amendment was to ensure that the state did not have to abide by the expansion of the federal hate crimes laws to cover things like sexual orientation ... only it turns out that there was a problem with the text of the amendment in that it actually stripped protections for race and religion:

A bill intended to remove hate crime protections from gays and lesbians actually takes away rights from everyone else because of a “legislative error,” according to one lawmaker.

Oklahoma State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said when the Senate passed Senate Bill 1965 on March 10, it eliminated hate crime protections for race and religion.

The bill states local law enforcement agencies should not enforce any sections of federal law under hate crimes statutes listed under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245 unless they are in correlation with Oklahoma’s hate crimes laws.

But the protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes, which passed Congress last year, are not listed under Section 245, but Section 249

“The bill in its current form doesn’t take away rights from gays and lesbians,” Rice said. “It takes away rights for religion and race.”

Hate Crimes: Get Ready For Pointless Grandstanding

President Obama hasn't even signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act yet, but right-wing activists are already "challenging" it ... or at least their warped version of it.

Here is the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission vowing to defy the legislation:

"The fact the hate bill had to be passed in such an unscrupulous and cynical manner (attaching it to the Defense Authorization Act) reveals the depth of President Obama's commitment to a radical, anti-Christian agenda. He will stop at nothing to undermine the will of the majority of Americans to pay back militant homosexual activists who raised millions of dollars for his campaign and worked to get him elected."

"To sign the bill in the Rose Garden is another slap in the face and shows the level of contempt President Obama has for the majority of Americans who oppose the "homosexualization" of marriage and public education."

"The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission will soon be announcing its plans, along with other leading pro-family groups, to defy, counter and challenge this unconstitutional attack on our religious liberty."

And here is Gordon Klingenschmitt daring Obama to prosecute him:

In other words, A) pastors may quote the Bible publicly if their "intention" is the free exercise of religion or speech, but B) pastors may not quote the Bible publicly if their "intention" is to conspire with listeners to commit an act of violence. This begs the question, if the pastor never announces whether the unspoken "intention" of his heart is A or B, how can any prosecutor, judge, or jury know whether the pastor's secret thoughts intended A) free exercise or B) conspiracy? Without revealing the secret intention of my own heart, whether A or B, I hereby publicly quote both Romans 1:32 and Leviticus 20:13:

Romans 1:32 -- "Men with men working that which is unseemly...who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death."

Leviticus 20:13 -- "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

I further invite President Barack Obama, as the chief law enforcement official of America, to discern the secret thoughts and intentions of my heart, and to prosecute me for conspiracy or inciting the violent crimes of others who might read my words and act upon them, if he dares to think he knows or can prove my motives were not pursuant to the free exercise of religion or speech.

Of course, neither CADC or Klingenschmitt nor anybody else is going to be prosecuted for speaking out or "defying" this and they know it.  After all, the legislation expressly protects free speech and religious freedom:

(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this division 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.

(5) FIRST AMENDMENT- Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed to diminish any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(6) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution of the United States does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

But just because the legislation poses no threat to their religious freedom or right to free speech, amazingly that is not going to stop some on the Right from trying to use the legislation to turn paint themselves as martyrs.

Respecting the Troops By Voting Against the Defense Appropriation

Back when George W. Bush was president, any Democrat in Congress who voted against any defense appropriation bill was immediately accused of hating our troops and endangering their lives.

But times have changed apparently:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are voting against the House/Senate fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill — because it contains hate crimes provisions designed to protect gays and lesbians.

Boehner, speaking at his weekly press conference Thursday, said the inclusion of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill was "an abuse of power" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sought to punish offenders for what they thought — and not what they did.

He accused the speaker of pursuing her social agenda "on the backs" of the troops.

GOP Whip Eric Cantor is also a no, saying that the legislation constitutes classifying a new group of "thought crimes."

Not surprisingly, the Right has seized upon the idea that voting against this appropriations bill is a way to show support for the troops:

As FRC has said countless times, this provision would be devastating to free speech and religious freedom. Other laws that have passed under the guise of "hate crimes" have been the first step toward silencing pastors and Christians who speak out against homosexuality. Please join with us in asking Congress to respect our servicemen and women and vote no on "hate crimes" as part of the defense authorization bill!

Concerned Women for America makes a similar claim:

"The Defense Authorization bill should fund our national defense. Period. This 'hate crimes' provision grants special rights to certain political groups and could give cover to criminal behavior. This exploitation of a bill to fund our national defense shamelessly places homosexual groups' demands equal to or more important than our military," stated Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.

"'Hate crime' laws unduly expand the federal government. These crimes are already fully prosecuted by the states. 'Hate crime' laws allow prosecution for the same act twice, violating the Constitutional protection against Double Jeopardy. It creates a class of 'special' preferred victims, denying equal protection to other victims. It could cover every kind of sexual behavior, granting protected status even for pedophiles. And homosexual activists admit the whole effort is a scam to raise money and political power," Wright noted.

Hate Crimes Deja Vu

With hate crimes legislation scheduled to be voted on in the Senate next week, the Religious Right seems somewhat resigned to the fact that they do not have to votes to stop it or even slow it down, but that doesn't mean that they aren't trying.

Yesterday was apparently "National 'Stop S. 909' Day" during which "the American Family Association, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and other conservative activist groups [urged] their supporters to call, e-mail, fax, or visit their senators today to express their disapproval of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Senate Bill 909)."

James Dobson and Tony Perkins discussed it on Dobson's radio program yesterday, with Dobson proclaiming that its passage would be used to silence pastors and Focus on the Family is calling on its activists to contact their senators and ""ask them to oppose S.909 or 'hate-crimes' legislation in any form."

Of course, as we've pointed out before, the Religious Right doesn't really oppose "hate crimes legislation in any form," they just oppose protection for gays.

But since it looks like they'll be unable to stop the legislation's passage, they appear to be turning their attention toward stopping efforts to amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to include bullying and harassment prevention program because it also provides protection based on sexual orientation ... and so they are trotting out the exact same bogus claims they used in opposing hate crimes legislation:

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a so-called bullying bill that would require public schools to spell out special categories in their discipline policies, including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

Family advocates say it will pave the way for a pro-homosexual, adult-driven agenda in public schools.

The name of the bill is Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Focus on the Family's Education Analyst Candi Cushman explained that there is a way to deal with the issue in a fair and objective way, without sexualizing and politicizing the school environment.

"We recognize that bullying and the harm it causes in the lives of kids is tragic and shouldn't be allowed to happen," Cushman said. "We agree schools should be encouraged to have strong policies prohibiting bullying—applied equally and across the board, against any child for any reason."

She said parents need to keep a close watch on the progress of the bill, because if it passes, it could be used to undermine parental rights and local control.

"People need to realize that gay activists will use this federal mandate as the leverage they need to get promotion of homosexuality into public schools," Cushman cautioned.

Jeremiah Dys, president of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said the bill's language is taking the focus off of the real problem.

"A bully is a bully because he's a bully, not because of who he bullies," Dys said. "The rules ought to be enforced against the bullies regardless of who they're bullying or what actions he takes."

The Traditional Values Coalition has also come out against it by tying it into the Religious Right's crusade against Kevin Jennings, claiming it turn the nation's public schools into bastions of homosexuality:

If this legislation is passed, it will permit Jennings to spend millions of our tax dollars to push the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender agenda in schools under the guise of fighting “bullying” and allegedly promoting “school safety.”

...

Jennings will use millions of our tax dollars to push the promotion of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender behaviors upon hundreds of thousands of school districts throughout our nation.

Make no mistake: The Safe Schools Improvement Act is an ATM machine for the LGBT agenda. Issues about school safety and bullying are simply smokescreens to hide the real agenda.

Note the definitions of bullying and harassment. Under this bill, any gay or cross-dressing teen who is “bullied” or “harassed,” can claim protection. It includes a teen’s “actual or perceived” sexual orientation or gender identity (code for cross-dressers or transsexuals).

If a straight teen criticizes the sexual behavior of a gay or cross-dressing teen, he is guilty of bullying or harassment. This is a direct attack upon free speech.

Let's take a look at the definitions of bullying and harrassment, as TVC suggests, shall we:

(12) BULLYING- The term `bullying' means conduct that--

`(A) adversely affects the ability of one or more students to participate in or benefit from the school's educational programs or activities by placing the student (or students) in reasonable fear of physical harm; and

`(B) includes conduct that is based on--

`(i) a student's actual or perceived--

`(I) race;

`(II) color;

`(III) national origin;

`(IV) sex;

`(V) disability;

`(VI) sexual orientation;

`(VII) gender identity; or

`(VIII) religion;

`(ii) any other distinguishing characteristics that may be defined by a State or local educational agency; or

`(iii) association with a person or group with one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics listed in clause (i) or (ii).

`(13) HARASSMENT- The term `harassment' means conduct that--

`(A) adversely affects the ability of one or more students to participate in or benefit from the school's educational programs or activities because the conduct, as reasonably perceived by the student (or students), is so severe, persistent, or pervasive; and

`(B) includes conduct that is based on--

`(i) a student's actual or perceived--

`(I) race;

`(II) color;

`(III) national origin;

`(IV) sex;

`(V) disability;

`(VI) sexual orientation;

`(VII) gender identity; or

`(VIII) religion;

`(ii) any other distinguishing characteristics that may be defined by a State or local educational agency; or

`(iii) association with a person or group with one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics listed in clause (i) or (ii).

Bullying entails "reasonable fear of physical harm" and harassment must be "severe, persistent, or pervasive" but, just as they did with hate crimes, the Right is completely misrepresenting this legislation.

And notice also that they are not complaining about the protections included for religion or race - they are simply opposed to protections for gays.

It's becoming pretty clear that even after the hate crimes legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law, we can look forward to having the same exact fight over anti-bullying legislation, complete with the same exact right-wing scare-tactics and false claims.

The Right's Hate Crimes Conundrum

One of the main points I have tried to make in my various posts on hate crimes legislation is the obvious hypocrisy of the Religious Right as they decry the so-called "special protections" that such legislation would grant to gays while simultaneously ignoring the same "special protections" they already have as Christians under existing hate crimes legislation. As I wrote a few weeks ago, "It seems that, for the Religious Right, the predominant theme of late has been 'special rights for me, but not for thee.'"

The Right basically has two options in opposing protections for sexual orientation: explain why gays don't deserve the same protection offered to religion and race or call for the elimination of hate crimes laws entirely.

The latter, according to Tiffany Stanley of Religion News Service, seems to be the tactic of choice for at least some Religious Right groups:

With a Democrat-controlled Congress and a president who has indicated his support for the Matthew Shepard Act, time may be running out for its opponents. To stop the legislation, a few Christian leaders have suggested repealing all hate-crimes law, which would undo historic protections for race and even religion.

"The entire notion of hate-crimes legislation is extraneous and obsolete," said Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs with the conservative nonprofit Liberty Counsel, adding that he believes hate-crimes laws are unconstitutional.

...

"All violent crime is hate crime," said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at Family Research Council here in the capital. "What drives an individual to commit a violent crime but hate for their victim?"

Frankly, if they really believe that all hate crimes laws should be repealed, then these groups need to explain why the existing enhanced penalties for a racist who burns a cross on someone's lawn or a neo-Nazi who burns down a synagogue are "extraneous and obsolete."   Good luck making that case.

But there are others, like Focus on the Family, who say they don't support doing away with existing hate crimes laws, but just don't think gays should be protected:

If, as opponents of the bill say, gays and lesbians do not deserve hate crime protections, then who does?

Focus on the Family does not favor repealing hate-crime laws, but sees sexual orientation and gender identity as changeable, unlike race, for instance, said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for the Colorado-based group.

While Horne acknowledges individuals can change their religion, that category is the exception to the rule because "the government has historically protected religion since the founding of this country."

So it is perfectly fine that hate crimes laws protect people on the basis of religion because the government has always protected religion, but gays don't deserve similar protection despite the fact that there are nearly 2.5 times as many violent hate crimes targeting individuals because of their sexual orientation as there are violent crimes targeting individuals because of religion?

This is basically the Right's view in a nutshell:  gays don't deserve hate crimes protection while religion does because religion is special ... and if the government is going to try and grant similar protections to gays, they'd rather lessen penalties for racists and anti-Semites than let that happen. 

The Right Plots Hate Crimes Strategy

GOProud, a new organization claiming to represent gay conservatives, formed a few months ago for the purpose of selling the conservative agenda to the gay community. 

As GOProud explains:

While hate crimes and employment protections may be worthy goals, there are many other important priorities that receive little attention from the gay community. GOProud's agenda emphasizes conservative and libertarian principles that will improve the daily lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans.

At the time, executive director Jimmy LaSalvia said that "if you pulled the lever for John McCain in 2008, then passing hate-crimes legislation ... is probably not your priority" and so the organization's mission was instead to focus on painting traditional conservative policies as gay-friendly policies. 

If you are confused about just what the means, this ought to clarify:

One month after successfully tucking an amendment into the credit card reform bill that expanded gun rights, a small number of Senate Republicans are looking at the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as another chance to score a victory for the Second Amendment. The possible plan — to add an amendment that would allow gun owners to carry their weapons from one state to another in accordance with concealed carry laws. The possible rationale — to defend gay rights.

“It makes sense for a group of people who would be protected by hate crime legislation to support something that would let them defend themselves before or after the crime,” said one Republican Senate aid familiar with the discussions. “It’s relevant, and we want to work together with gay groups to get the message out.”

While the aide described the discussions over a gun rights amendment to the hate crimes bill as “very fluid,” conservative and pro-gun rights gay groups outside of the Senate are ready to make a real push for it. GOProud, a new gay rights group that broke away from the Log Cabin Republicans in April, has talked with top staffers for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) about how to make the civil rights case for conceal and carry reciprocity.

“We support this because we think it’s advantageous to make it legal and relatively easy for gay people to arm themselves so they can protect themselves,” said Jimmy LaSilva, who became the executive director of GOProud after three years working on policy for the Log Cabin Republicans. “In the next few weeks we want to start highlighting some of those stories. There are people who have averted gay bashings because of their ability to use guns.”

GOProud doesn't see the need for hate crimes legislation or even necessarily support its passage, but that doesn't mean that they won't try to use it in order to advance the gun-rights agenda under the guise of a gay-friendly policy.

In related hate crimes news, Janet Porter reports that, starting this weekend, the Religious Right is going to start making a coordinated push to defeat the legislation:

This Sunday, June 14, Flag Day, pastors across America will be standing for freedom by exposing this dangerous bill that could land them in jail for the "crime" of reading from Romans.

And this Monday, June 15, leaders like Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Dr. Don Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Association, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council will be calling on their members and listeners to call their senators to stop S. 909: The anti-freedom Pedophile Protection Act. If you care about freedom, get ready to shut down the Capitol Switchboard to stop this dangerous bill that will criminalize Christianity and protect pedophiles. It's already passed the House and Obama has promised to sign it. Our last chance to stop it is in the Senate.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Pam reports that Rep. Virginia Foxx is now trying to walk back from her claim that the murder to Matthew Shepard was a "hoax."
  • The Box Turtle Bulletin has a good analysis of Carrie Prejean, her views, and her role as a martyr for the Religious Right.
  • Good as You has the audio of Prejean's appearance on Matt Barber and Mat Staver's radio program (also, Jeremy has always had a fondness for puns and plays on words, and this post was exceptionally clever.)
  • Publius predicts that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's stock will rise as the GOP's fortunes grow dimmer and they eventually need to recover from the descent into crazy base land.
  • Steve Benen notes that, in the latest effort to re-brand the GOP, there is no mention of culture war issues and says it looks like the Republican Party is trying to throw social conservatives under the bus and asks them if they are "going to take this lying down?"

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters looks back at the media's coverage of the Obama administration's first 100 days.
  • Think Progress offers its own look back at the period during which "the conservative movement has undergone a period of radicalization."
  • Media Matters catches Rep. Virginia Foxx falsely claiming that Matthew Shepard's murder had nothing to do with the fact that he was gay, calling it a "hoax," while Think Progress provides a collection of other right-wing hysterics in the House during the hate crimes debate.
  • Glenn Greenwald also weighs in on Foxx, noting that she approvingly quoted him in voicing her opposition to the legislation.  But, as Greenwald points out, he was writing about hate speech laws, not hate crimes legislation.
  • Steve Benen notes that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has been disinvited to address a gathering of GOP activists in Michigan because of his support for civil unions.
  • Good as You takes on Focus on the Family and sets the record straight on Focus's claim that the San Francisco Unified School District "now has an entire division dedicated to promoting homosexuality."

Surprise! New Right-Wing Video Campaign Long on Propaganda, Short on Truth

Since closing its Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in April, Coral Ridge Ministries has adopted an audacious five-year media outreach strategy to increase its current audience from three to thirty million by 2012. CRM set out to achieve this goal with the release of two “documentaries”: Hate Crimes Laws: Censoring the Church and Silencing Christians, in which CRM joins Tony Perkin’s Family Research Council to portray hate crimes prevention legislation as anti-Christian, and Global Warming: The Science and the Solutions, in which CRM seeks to downplay the serious warnings of scientists and trivialize global climate change.

The propaganda in “Censoring the Church and Silencing Christians” is both factually inaccurate and offensive, as demonstrated by the insistence of Dr. Frank Wright of the National Religious Broadcasters that the hate crimes law would silent churches by outlawing anti-gay sermons. The truth is that speech is explicitly protected in the proposed law. Not only does the video try to scare people through its false claims about “thought police,” it also resorts to personal attacks by, for example, suggesting that Matthew Shepard, the young college student whose brutal murder in 1998 brought hate crimes to the political forefront, was beaten and left to die for making unwanted sexual advances toward his murderers during an illegal drug deal.

"Censoring the Church and Silencing Christians" - Matthew Shepard

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who appears in both Coral Ridge documentaries, refers to the hate crimes prevention legislation as a “bad idea on steroids” and attacks the proposed legislation for supposedly allowing the government to limit free speech and promote “acceptable” speech. But when it comes to the Federal Communications Commission regulating speech he considers “filth and indecency,” Land is all for it, judging by this press release issued by his office on July 10th.

"Censoring the Church and Silencing Christians" - Richard Land

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

For its part, Coral Ridge’s anti-global warming documentary claims that human activity is not the cause of an overstated global warming problem. Once again, Richard Land weighs in to lash out at Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, calling it a “crocumentary” and insisting that God has given humans ‘dominion’ over the Earth to use as they wish. Dr. Calvin Beisner, Associate Professor of Historical Theology at the conservative Knox Theological Seminary, disputes claims by many experts in the scientific community by asserting that taking steps to reduce green house gases will fail to significantly reverse climate trends.

Interestingly, many of the conservative leaders that helped produce the anti-global warming documentary are closely associated with the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA), which played a leading role in trying to derail efforts within the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to take a public stand against global warming. This documentary is a direct challenge to the growing popularity of “Creation Care,” the environmental movement within the evangelical church, and the release of this documentary reveals the growing chasm between evangelical leaders.

The release of these documentaries suggests that CRM, following the closure of its Center for Reclaiming America, is moving full-speed ahead with its efforts to build influence through a strategy of straight-to-video activism. Based on these two productions, though, CRM may need to change its motto from “Proclaiming Truths that Transform” to “Transforming the ‘Truth.’”