Sen. Ted Cruz has, unsurprisingly, positioned himself right in the center of the Religious Right’s latest cause celebre, a lawsuit in Houston in which attorneys working for the city subpoenaed materials from local pastors, including copies of their sermons.
City officials have distanced themselves from the subpoenas, issued by pro-bono lawyers defending the city in a dispute over petitions for a referendum to repeal the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance, with Mayor Annise Parker calling their scope “overly broad.” But that hasn’t stopped activists and politicians like Cruz from jumping on the case to claim that all their dire warnings about gay rights leading pastors being thrown in jail are coming true. (An extra element of the case is the fact that Parker is openly gay, which groups like the American Family Association have been quick to note.)
Cruz joined pastors and Religious Right activists at a press conference in Houston yesterday, and in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today said that all his warnings about the persecution of Christians in America have come to fruition.
When Brody asked Cruz if “we very well soon go through a period where pastors are hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage,” Cruz agreed, saying, “I think that is a real risk and you and I have both pointed to that risk in the past.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America — specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right’s primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week’s controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.
Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that there is a “real risk” that preachers will be hauled off to jail for preaching against homosexuality, recycling an old and equally ludicrous charge that hate crimes laws would result in pastors being dragged from the pulpit.
Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response.” But he adds: “The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.Cruz is lying. And he has lots of company promoting the Houston hype. Todd Starnes of Fox News charged, ”There is a war over religious liberty in Houston, Texas.” The Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell said it smacked of totalitarianism and said it suggested that it was “a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country” who think “America is evil.” Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared, “This is how religious liberty dies.”
As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It’s not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.
So what is the real story?
The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city’s new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.
Here’s the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.
On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it’s entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right’s lawsuit. That’s how our legal system works.
It’s terribly inconvenient to the Religious Right’s narrative that progressive religious leaders are among those who have criticized the Houston attorneys’ subpoena. Among those who criticized the city’s subpoena as troubling and overly intrusive were supporters of LGBT equality and church-state separation. Baptists of all stripes weighed in. Both progressive religious leaders and atheists publicly agreed. Even the ACLU! So much for the supposed enemies of religious freedom.
Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston’s, and America’s, LGBT citizens.
Pat Robertson is not pleased by the Air Force’s recent decision to make the words “So help me God” optional in the oath of enlistment, a result of the controversy over an airman in Nevada who was not allowed to re-enlist after he omitted the line.
The “700 Club” host reacted to the news today by criticizing the Air Force as cowards for “caving” to the “little Jewish radical” Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, whom he said is “terrorizing” the military:There is a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has gotten a group about ‘people against religion’ or whatever he calls it and he has just terrorized the Armed Forces. You think you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to defend us, and you’ve got one little Jewish radical who is scaring the pants off of you. You want these guys flying airplanes to defend us when you’ve got one little guy terrorizing them? That’s what it amounts to. We swear oaths, ‘So help me God,’ what does it mean? It mean’s with God’s help. You don’t have to say you believe in God, you just have to say you want some help beside myself with the oath I’m taking. It’s just crazy. What is wrong with the Air Force? How can they fly the bombers to defend us if they cave to one little guy?
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Is Bob McDonnell the latest Religious Right “victim” of President Obama’s purported persecution of conservatives?
Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow did their best to paint the former Republican governor of Virginia as the victim of a “political prosecution,” decrying his corruption trial as a “political witch hunt” spearheaded by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Robertson alleged, without any evidence, that Holder wanted to stop Mitt Romney from tapping McDonnell as his running mate in 2012 and is “behind all of this stuff.”
“It is just one more reason why this administration is just destroying this nation and destroying its own credibility.”
Both Robertson and Sekulow are close to McDonnell, who attended the televangelist’s CBN University (now Regent University), where he wrote his controversial thesis. McDonnell was a member of Regent University’s board of trustees and Robertson donated to his campaign.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Fair, impartial, hard-hitting journalists like David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network know how to ask the tough questions…and by that we mean feed politicians the answers.
When Brody — who we have recently seen lavishing praise on GOP politicians including Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul — sat down with Sen. Ron Johnson at this weekend’s Road to Majority conference, he effectively gave the Wisconsin Republican talking points to respond to the controversy surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s alleged illegal campaign coordination during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections.
“Do you feel like this is somewhat of a witch hunt?” Brody asked Johnson. “It seems to be interesting that this is a very complicated issue and I’m wondering, because you’re from Wisconsin, I thought I’d get your take on this.”
The senator — surprise! — responded that the embattled governor is indeed a victim of a “scurrilous,” “unconstitutional,” “political witch hunt” by prosecutors who are “abridging the right of free speech.”
“It absolutely is a witch hunt,” Johnson said. “They’ve dumped these documents — now I know it’s under court order — but you know they are calling it a potential criminal scheme. What it really is, it’s an unconstitutional scheme on the part of the prosecutors. I think the prosecutors are probably facing greater legal liability than anything.”
“We have basically criminalized political activity, we began to criminalize the exercising of free speech rights,” he added.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Flip on Daystar television at any hour of the day and you’ll likely see the elements of modern televangelism: a stylish set, an emotional spiritual message and a phone number on the screen soliciting donations.
Based in a studio complex between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and broadcasting to a potential audience of 2 billion people around the globe, Daystar calls itself the fastest growing Christian television network in the world.
The Internal Revenue Service considers Daystar something else: a church.
Televangelists have a choice when they deal with the IRS. Some, like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham, register as religious organizations. They’re exempt from most taxes but still must file disclosure reports showing how they make and spend their money.
Daystar and dozens of others call themselves churches, which enjoy the greatest protection and privacy of all nonprofit organizations in America.
Churches avoid not only taxes, but any requirement to disclose their finances. And, as NPR has learned, for the past five years churches have avoided virtually any scrutiny whatsoever from the federal government’s tax authority.
Today, television evangelists are larger, more numerous, more complex, richer, with bigger audiences than ever before and yet they are the least transparent of all nonprofits.
The top three religious broadcasters — Christian Broadcast Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar Television — are worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars combined, according to available records.
With $233 million in assets1, Daystar is the largest religious TV network in America that calls itself a church. As such, there’s no objective way for viewers — who annually give an average of $35 million to Daystar — to be certain how their money is spent.
But NPR found hundreds of pages of court records filed as part of a 2011 employee lawsuit in Texas that has since been dismissed. In them were six years of audited financial statements from Daystar, including balance sheets, income and expense records and detailed accounting of donations.
Those records offer a deep and unprecedented look at the inner workings of a modern religious empire, and they raise issues as basic as the definition of “church” and as grand as the role of government in religion.
They show generous donations and loans that Daystar made to friends, and records of charitable giving that looked different from what Daystar describes on the air.
The founder and CEO of Daystar is a dapper, often-tearful, 56-year-old Pentecostal minister from Georgia named Marcus Lamb. He’s a spirited preacher and a tireless fundraiser. He declined numerous requests to speak to NPR. But in a four-page letter from Daniel Woodward, Daystar’s director of marketing, the network defends its business practices and notes that all of them comply with IRS rules. As a nonprofit broadcaster, it is little different from NPR, Woodward says, but for its classification as a church under IRS guidelines.2
"Both networks are nonprofit entities that are tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3)," Woodward writes. "They both enjoy all of the same benefits and obligations, other than the fact that Daystar does not have to file a form 990, due to its church status, for which it is fully compliant under the law."
Daystar produces its own lineup of popular Christian talk shows and sells airtime to well-known evangelists such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. “It just speaks to me, and I feel like I’m being ministered to,” says Jordan Riley, a Christian pop singer in Seattle who supports Daystar.
Despite its self-description as a church, Daystar does not resemble a church in any traditional sense.
"Church to me is when I’m gathered with other believers," Riley says. "I don’t consider it an electronic church."
Several former employees also don’t call Daystar a church.
"When the lights are on and the cameras are on, we’re a ministry. When those lights are off, cameras are off, it doesn’t feel like a ministry," says Lisa Anderson, former executiveassistant to Marcus Lamb and his wife, Joni. "It is a business making money."
Daystar’s former IT manager Bill Hornback agrees. “I mean, there’s no Sunday sermon, no Wednesday night meeting. It’s all business. It’s not a church. It’s a television broadcasting company, that’s what they are,” says Hornback.
In his letter, Daystar’s marketing director points out that the IRS has recognized Daystar as a church from the network’s inception. And he adds that Daystar regularly conducts marriages, funerals, baptisms and communions just like any other church. Yet former employees interviewed by NPR said they could not recall a single instance of this happening.
The IRS has a definition of a church, called the “14-point test.” Among the criteria: regular services, Sunday school, ordained ministers and a regular congregation. But it rarely enforces the 14-point test anymore and, in fact, has never challenged Daystar’s claim to be a church.
In a deposition filed with court records, Marcus Lamb defended Daystar’s standing as a church, saying the network’s viewers “are our congregation.” 3
NPR asked Washington tax lawyer Marcus Owens, former director of the Exempt Organizations section at the IRS, if a television audience can constitute a congregation. Owens referred to acase when he was at the IRS in which that same issue came up.
"That argument did not fly," he says, "because of the absence of a congregation, a group in the room with the religious leader when the services occurred."
As part of America’s commitment to religious freedom, anyone can start a church, start preaching and passing the collection plate. They are presumed to be a church by the IRS — no questions asked.
"For the most part, a church is a church if they say it’s a church. And if it’s a church, then it’s tax-exempt," says Ron Wright, tax assessor-collector in Tarrant County, Texas, where Daystar is located.
Daystar’s broadcast complex and corporate jet — together valued at $9.5 million — would be subject to property taxes in Texas if the ministry were a for-profit business. But it’s exempt because of its status as a church.4
According to court records, Daystar’s primary revenue comes from selling airtime to other religious programmers. Its secondary income is donations. The documents show that between 2005 and 2011, Daystar took in $208 million in tax-deductible contributions from viewers through on-air pitches.5
Daystar has built a public image as a generous giver to charitable causes. Indeed, the network has contributed millions of dollars to a trauma center and a home for Holocaust survivors in Israel, a hospital in Calcutta, and to ministries that support women in Moldova and children in Uganda.
Lamb trumpeted those donations in a 2009 sermon in Australia: “In the last five years, Daystar has written checks of donations to others, to ministries, to churches, to missions, to hurricane relief, to tsunami relief, to hospitals, etc., to the tune of $30 million cash!”
NPR analyzed six years of Daystar balance sheets. They show the network gave away $9.7 million dollars in direct grants to outside recipients. Not $30 million. That works out to charitable giving of about 5 percent of donor revenue.
"My concern is the disconnect between what Daystar asks that the money be used for and how they actually use it," says Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch.org, a nonprofit charity evaluator based in Chicago. Borochoff estimates he’s examined more than 100,000 nonprofits in his 25 years doing this kind of work. NPR sent him Daystar documents and asked him to assess the network’s charitable giving.
"Daystar needs to tell people that only about 5 percent of their contributions are going toward hospitals, churches, needy individuals," he says.
In its letter, Daystar explains the discrepancy by saying the majority of viewer contributions actually pays for the costs of foreign satellitetransmissions, which the network considers its “international mission work.”
To see where the actual cash donations go, NPR examined six years of network giving and found that some of the money goes to family interests and ministry expenses.
According to court records, Daystar gave:
- $433,000 of tax-deductible viewer donations to Oral Roberts University, mostly during years when the three Lamb children were enrolled there.
- $53,683 to Lake Country Christian School, the high school the Lamb children attended.
- $296,091 to Gateway Church, the Lambs’ family church.
- $32,200 to Family Restoration Network, Christian marriage counselors who Marcus and Joni claim saved their marriage.
- $24,026 to Lamb’s alma mater, Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.
- $21,879 to Lynn Haven Nursing Home in Gray, Ga., where Marcus’ father lived before he died.`
Other donations of tax-deductible viewer contributions include $60,000 to Israeli lawyers who helped Daystar get a cable television contract, according to the publisher of Teva Ha’Dvarim Magazine, who acted as an intermediary; $23,674 for a ministry trip to Asia; $60,000 in payments to “Daystar and Daystar Remotes”; and $30,000 to the First Baptist Church of Orlando at a time when the pastor was helping Daystar buy a local educational TV station, according to Daystar documents filed with the 193rd Judicial District Court in Dallas County.
Moreover, evangelists who bought airtime on Daystar or appeared as guests on the network received more than $500,000. Of that sum, $92,000 went to the Rev. T.L. Lowery and his foundation, on whose board of directors Lamb sits.
Daystar spent nondonation ministry income on expenses that included $572,154 in sponsorship and expenses for a Christian NASCAR driver named Blake Koch6; a $2.3 million loanto the Rev. Frank Harber, Lamb’s former special assistant and golfing buddy, to start a church that defaulted on the loan7; and $97,320 spent at retail bookstores to buy up copies of Joni Lamb’s autobiography, Surrender All, helping to drive it onto a best-sellers list.8 Daystar says the books were given away as premiums to donors.
None of this is illegal, and Daystar says in its letter that all of its charitable contributions go to groups or individuals that share its Christian mission.
"It would be a lot easier to sort all of this out if Daystar filed a public disclosure document with the IRS like the secular charities," says CharityWatch’s Borochoff. "If you want to make a contribution to your father’s care facility or your kids’ university and that’s out there and open for anybody to ask about, it brings a lot of accountability that wouldn’t be there otherwise."
Daystar’s response says it has always supported “like-minded ministries spreading the Gospel.” Furthermore, “Donors are aware and appreciate our stewardship on their behalf.”
Joyce Wade, who worked in the Prayer Department as one of her jobs during her eight years at Daystar before she quit, says she was “flabbergasted” after viewing the pages of contributions found in court documents.
"I’m almost floored by the amounts I saw," she says. "And still wondering why, why is it that those organizations … can get this much money?"
By all accounts, Marcus Lamb is a brilliant businessman who has single-handedly built Daystar into a Christian media powerhouse.
Though Daystar is a quarter-billion-dollar enterprise, former employees say it’s run like a family business. Court records from 2010 show the board of directors was composed entirely of Lamb family members and their lawyer — a structure the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability considers bad governance.
Daystar counters that its books are audited by an outside accounting firm every year and its financials are available to donors.
At NPR’s request, the Trinity Foundation, a watchdog group in Dallas that monitors Christian broadcasters, compiled a list of the nation’s 30 leading evangelist broadcasters. Twenty-two of them are designated churches, meaning they don’t have to report anything to anybody. Of those, two-thirds have churches, while a third of them — including Daystar — hold no regular services.
Eight of the top 30 evangelists have chosen not to call themselves churches. They are classified as religious nonprofits, which means they must disclose their finances for public inspection. One of them is Billy Graham’s organization.
"I think the simplest reason is that Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is not a church; it’s what you might call a para-church," says spokesman Mark DeMoss. He says Billy Graham, now 95, was an early proponent of rigorous financial openness in a field in which other ministers often preferred to protect their privacy. Graham’s IRS Form 990 , for instance, shows directors’ salaries, how much contractors are paid and which organizations received grants.
"For the Graham organization, the transparency has not been a challenge," DeMoss continues. "Other organizations have figured out that they could classify themselves as a church and avoid filing the form and therefore avoid disclosing some of this financial data."
But the truth is, Marcus Lamb doesn’t have to worry about the IRS asking whether Daystar qualifies for church status or auditing its books.
Because of a quirk in rules by the IRS, the agency has effectively stopped auditing churches for the past five years.
"As of now, and in fact since 2009, the IRS has not to the best of my knowledge" audited a church, says Owens, the tax attorney and former IRS official. "In fact, I don’t believe [it] can conduct an audit of a church,"
The Church Audit Procedures Act states that a high-ranking Treasury Department official must sign off if the IRS demands a church’s records. But since a court ruling in 2009, the IRS has not changed the law to specify who that high-ranking official should be. And here’s the catch: Until that happens, there’s no one in the government to authorize a church audit.
NPR repeatedly asked for an explanation from the IRS about the hiatus in church audits, but it declined to comment.
The agency has said little about churches since a few high-profile cases made waves years ago. The IRS had been looking at churches thought to have endorsed political candidates. The audits found nothing, but the process angered church leaders and members of Congress.
Paul Streckfus, a tax attorney who edits the Exempt Organization Tax Journal, believes the IRS actually likes having an excuse for not bothering churches.
"Why the IRS doesn’t like to audit churches?" Streckfus says. "The churches don’t like it. They can scream and yell quite loudly and get Congress members’ attention. And so the IRS not only doesn’t like the churches to be mad at them, but doesn’t like Congress to be mad at them."
It’s reasonable to ask, then, what happens with television ministries that are classified as churches. They take in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, they’re as big as some large corporations, yet many of them are answerable to no one outside of the organization.
"Some of us feel some of these televangelists have taken advantage of the fact that churches have little regulation by government and few reporting requirements," says Streckfus.
Even before church audits stopped, a congressional committee was concerned that televangelists were misbehaving. Seven years ago, the Senate Finance Committee started investigating six high-flying ministries. Two cooperated; four provided incomplete records or refused altogether, citing church privacy rules. Daystar was not among them.
The committee looked at Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long, and noted that he made trips in a church-leased jet to Las Vegas and Caribbean resort islands, and had a Rolls Royce and a Bentley.
The investigation examined Georgia-based televangelist Creflo Dollar and his wife, Taffi, who also drove Rolls Royces and had numerous subsidiaries connected to their church.
The inquiry also looked at the $3.5 million Trump Tower condo and the Bentley convertible purchased by televangelists Paula and Randy White.
Investigators concluded that the lack of accountability among these six ministries was “troubling considering that churches can reach the size of large taxable corporations, control numerous … subsidiaries, and bestow Wall Street-size benefits on their ministers.” 9
"There was abuse. But I don’t want to say because there was abuse by a handful of televangelists that that’s spread among all the churches of America," says Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who was the head of the Finance Committee when it launched the investigation. In an interview with NPR, he expressed dismay at the findings of his staff.
"Before the crucifixion, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of an ass. And to see people traveling around in Bentleys seems to be a waste of the resources that could be used to help people in need and to win converts," Grassley says.
The Grassley committee devoted its longest, most detailed report to televangelist Kenneth Copeland and his Eagle Mountain International Church.
He’s a 77-year-old Pentecostal evangelist from West Texas who’s well-known for his folksy sermons and extensive personal property. His sprawling ministry complex north of Fort Worth, Texas, includes the church, ministry building and private airport — which are together valued at $12.3 million, according to records in the Tarrant Appraisal District.
The ministry owns two jets, both exempt from property taxes. Kenneth and Gloria Copeland’s lakeside villa — valued at $6.3 million — is also tax-exempt because it’s listed as a parsonage.10
Records at the Texas Secretary of State’s office show 13 assumed names for Eagle Mountain International Church, including five music and book companies. Moreover, the state comptroller’s office lists for-profit companies in real estate, fuel, fitness and cattle that are connected to the church or to the Copeland family. The ministry also pays taxes on the $5 million value of the natural gas deposits on its 1,290-acre property.
In its final report, the Grassley committee questioned whether “church status is being gamedto shield” certain activities from public scrutiny.
James Tito, executive director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, says in an email to NPR that the ministry has more than 500,000 members and supports worthy causes in 120 countries. He says the church’s 13 assumed business names are all related to its religious mission and are therefore nontaxable. And he says all of the church’s for-profit companies file federal income tax returns as required by the IRS.
NPR asked Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron White about the Copelands’ tax-free chateau and private airport.
"You know, I’m Catholic," Wright says. "I don’t know any priest who lives that lavishly. But government should not be determining if a minister is living too lavishly. It’s not for the government to determine if someone really needs an airplane for their ministry. That’s just not something government should be getting into."
The bottom line: A megaministry with millions of dollars in property and profitable side businesses enjoys the same tax benefits that a little country church does.
And that’s just how it should be, says David Middlebrook, a noted church lawyer who represents Kenneth Copeland.
"The fact that someone is very successful at what they do and is beloved by millions of people, and it’s not the Norman Rockwell painting of a small church in the woods, I don’t think they should be penalized for that," Middlebrook says.
Kenneth Copeland Ministries fiercely defends its privacy.
In 2007, when the Senate Finance Committee investigated televangelists and requested Copeland’s financial statements, the ministry declined to provide them.
In the same year, Tarrant County requested Copeland ministry salaries. Copeland declined to make them public, then sued the appraisal district, and won.
Shortly after that lawsuit, the state comptroller’s office changed the law so that today no religious leader in Texas seeking a tax exemption has to report how much he or she makes.
"There is a long-held tradition in our country that church activities are private," Middlebrook continues, "and ultimately, the congregants … have the ultimate veto power over the organization. It’s the veto power of shutting their wallet and walking out the door."
- Southlake, Texas-based Gateway Church, the home church of Pastor Robert Morris and where the Lamb family attend, also airs a show called The Blessed Life on the aforementioned Daystar, TBN, and a few other religious channels.
h/t: John Burnett at NPR
What does Sweden have in common with the brutally oppressive dictatorship of North Korea? According to Christian Broadcasting Network senior reporter Dale Hurd, a lot! Hurd claims that Swedish critics of Islam and immigration are facing North Korean-style oppression.
“Sweden has been compared to a couple of nations which also tried to build perfect societies, North Korea and the Soviet Union,” Hurd said in a 700 Club report today. He admitted that “if you don’t like how utopia is being built here, you won’t be shot like in North Korea,” but added, “your life could become very unpleasant.”
Yes, receiving an “unpleasant” response to your unpopular political views is just like what happens to dissidents in North Korea, but without the mass killings.
Hurd, who interviewed anti-Muslim writer Ingrid Carlqvist for his report, later described Sweden as having a “Stalinist-style atmosphere” and predicted that it will soon become a “Third World nation.”
700 Club host Pat Robertson said he was shocked by Hurd’s “frightening” report: “To think they can be killed by political correctness shows what can happen here.”
From the 04.02.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Experts have repeatedly debunked the myth that transgender non-discrimination laws give sexual predators access to women’s restrooms, but that hasn’t stopped conservative media outlets from promoting fake news stories to fear monger about trans-inclusive bathrooms.
For as long as the transgender community has fought for protection from discrimination in public spaces, conservatives have peddled the myth that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms.
That fear has been an extremely effective tool for scaring people into voting against even basic protections for transgender people, which is why conservatives routinely use the phrase “bathroom bill" to describe laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. When conservative media outlets attack non-discrimination laws for transgender people, they almost exclusively focus on bathroom and locker room facilities.
But that fear is baseless - completely unsupported by years of evidence from states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. In a new Media Matters report, experts from twelve states - including law enforcement officials, state human rights workers, and sexual assault victims advocates - debunk the myth that non-discrimination laws have any relation to incidents of sexual assault or harassment in public restrooms:
The transgender bathroom myth is likely to persist, even in the face clear evidence that discredits it. That’s because, unable to find real incidents to substantiate their fear mongering, anti-LGBT groups have taken to fabricating countless horror stories about trans-inclusive public restrooms. These stories are picked up and widely circulated by conservative (and occasionally mainstream) news outlets. By the time they’re debunked, most of the damage to non-discrimination efforts has already been done.
Last year, for example, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported an incident in which a male student, claiming to be transgender, was allegedly harassing female students in the school’s restrooms. The story was picked up by news outlets like the Daily Mail and Examiner and eventually made its way onto Fox Nation:
The story was a complete fabrication, manufactured by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a hate group working to repeal a California law protecting transgender students. Cristan Williams, a reporter at The Transadvocate, reached out to the school’s superintendent, who reported no incidents of harassment at the high school. Daily Mail took down its report on the incident, and Examiner published a retraction apologizing for its failure to fact-check the story. But Fox Nation didn’t note the correction, and Fox’s Sean Hannity continued to peddle PJI’s discredited horror stories about trans-inclusive restrooms. Unsurprisingly, PJI’s fears about trans-inclusive restrooms in public schools have turned out to be baseless.
In a statement to Equality Matters, Transadvocate's Williams described the problem of media outlets' willingness to promote wild stories about trans-inclusive restrooms without first verifying their accuracy:
In each case, an anti-LGBT group went to the media with an outlandish story about trans people who became wild after equality laws were passed and in each case, the media was eager to promote these stories without conducting proper fact checking.
PJI was only able to do what it did with the help of a credulous media that’s ready and willing to print - without question - whatever ludicrous anti-trans claim these anti-LGBT groups come up with. It’s a huge problem that does destroy lives.
Public restrooms aren’t a new battleground for civil rights. Social conservatives frequently invoke “bathroom panic” to justify discrimination against marginalized groups. As Lambda Legal notes, the regulation of bathrooms has been used as a tool to exclude people of color, women, and people with disabilities from participating in public spaces.
But the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms is a lie, plain and simple. It’s a lie that is unsupported by even a shred of evidence and contradicted by years of experience in states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. It’s a lie that does tremendous damage to efforts to protect transgender people from violence and harassment, which often occur in public restrooms. And it’s a lie that persists because conservative media outlets would rather tout made-up stories about sexual harassment than fact-check the anti-LGBT groups who invent those stories from whole cloth.
h/t: Carlos Maza at MMFA
Pat Robertson: God shut off D.C. power as a ‘fun’ way to punish Dems for climate lies | The Raw Story
Television preacher Pat Robertson on Thursday explained that God had caused a brief power outage in Washington, D.C. to mock Senate Democrats who held a late-night discussion about climate change. The office of the Architect of the Capitol said on Wednesday…
CBN's Robertson: "Impeach Eric Holder For 'Elevating' Sodomy Above The First Amendment" | Right Wing Watch
Pat Robertson today endorsed a campaign to impeach Eric Holderbecause of the attorney general’s stance on marriage equality.
“I really think the House should impeach Holder,” the700 Clubhostsaid. “There should be a move of impeachment in the House and he should resign.”
“What we’re seeing now more and more is the rights of homosexuals, the practice of homosexuality, sodomy, consensual sodomy, is being raised and elevated above the rights of religious believers and that is terrible,” he said, warning that gay rights is trampling on the First Amendment.
From the 02.26.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson criticized Attorney General Eric Holder’s latest announcement on gay rights and defended the efforts of lawmakers in states such as Arizona and Kansas to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination. Robertson unbelievably claimed that such right-to-discriminate bills won’t hurt anybody: “What we’re looking at here is a basic fundamental right of American people to conduct their business in ways they want to as long as it doesn’t hurt somebody else.”
“There’s something un-American about forcing a bakery to bake a wedding cake for a couple they don’t like,” Robertson said. “If they don’t like the people, that’s the way it is.” He said that such businesses are merely following the leadership of the “Soup Nazi.”
“This is ridiculous.”
From the 02.25.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:
h/t: Right Wing Watch
Televangelist Pat Robertson said today that the political crisis in Venezuela would never have materialized if the U.S. had only taken his advice about assassinating late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.
Today, however, he alleged that he was right all along about killing Chávez: “I warned on this program a couple of years ago and was pilloried across the nation for suggesting we ought to take out Chávez. My words have come true. Chávez died of cancer but nevertheless we should’ve hurried his demise a little bit along; it wouldn’t have been the problem we got now.”
Robertson then asked viewers to pray about the situation.
From the 02.24.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson once again suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood. While speaking to Christian Broadcasting Network commentator Raymond Ibrahim, the televangelist claimed that “Obama got up at the United Nations and said this man is a prophet and he needs to be honored as a prophet and anybody who won’t honor him as a prophet, there’s something wrong with him; we’re talking about Muhammad, he preached hate.”
Obama actually said the following: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”
Ibrahim agreed with Robertson’s bogus claim, using it to launch into a defense of Orientalism.
Later in the broadcast, Ibrahim said that “the US is in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood,” while Robertson wondered why Obama is “linked up with the Brotherhood” and “takes leaders of the Brotherhood into the White House for his consultation.”
From the 02.20.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Pat Robertson: "Some Planned Parenthood ‘abortion mills’ have a ‘billion dollars in cash!’" | The Raw Story
Televangelist Pat Robertson on Tuesday lashed out at the Planned Parenthood organization, and said that some chapters had over a billion dollars in cash on hand. During Tuesday’s edition of The 700 Club, Robertson highlighted a former Indiana Planned…
Televangelist Pat Robertson has some advice for men who have sex with transsexual women: “Keep your mouth shut.” On Monday’s edition of CBN’s The 700 Club, a viewer told Robertson that he felt guilty because he had never told his wife that he…