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
Herman Cain is just the latest in a long line of GOP candidates who say God told them to run for president—but apparently God never mentioned anything about winning.
Are you there, God? It’s Herman Cain—and the rest of The GOP is likely coming, too.
The Tea Party’s favorite pizza-preneur hit the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Saturday with a message for conservatives, but more importantly, for Jesus Christ: If called, he’s ready for another run at the presidency in 2016.
“I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future, and that’s God Almighty,” Cain said. “And in case someone is wondering, I don’t trust in government, I trust in God.”
He’s not the only one waiting for God’s go-ahead. “I believe God will make it clear to me if that’s something I’m supposed to do,” said Ben Carson on Fox News in August. The neurosurgeon earned plaudits from conservatives last year (the Wall Street Journal ran a “Ben Carson for President” editorial) following his scalding speech at the White House prayer breakfast.
But sadly for both, God has been known to endorse multiple candidates, and a push from the man upstairs doesn’t always add up to votes.
It’s no surprise that many GOP candidates invoke God in stump speeches; after Mormons, evangelicals are the most Republican religion and just one in 10 consider themselves liberal. But only a select few belong to the divine endorsement club.
Members include former Indiana State Sen. William Costas, who credited a “message from God” delivered by his wife for his ultimately unsuccessful 1986 Congressional run. That same year Richard Stokes lost a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, along with his wife, when he quit his job as a middle school teacher after hearing the “very deep, very plain” voice of God at 3 a.m. telling him to launch a campaign that focused on abortion, homosexuality and Communism. And Jim Bob Duggar—hero of the Quiverfull movement and star of the reality series 19 Kids and Counting—said he was “called by God,” but didn’t make it past the Republican primary in his 2002 U.S. Senate attempt. Even Ronald Reagan heard the voice of God, according to his son, Michael, who wrote in his book, Hand of Providence, “He believed God had called him to run for president. He believed God had things for him to do.”God has been known to endorse multiple candidates, and a push from the man upstairs doesn’t always add up to votes.
In 2012, at least five candidates claimed God had called them all the run.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity it would be “up to God and the American people,” whether he would seek the nomination.
Herman Cain is just awaiting a sign like the one handed down to him in 2011. Before throwing his hat in the ring, he said, “I felt like Moses when God said, ‘I want you to go into Egypt and lead my people out.’ Moses resisted. I resisted.… But you shouldn’t question God.”
Though Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, told him, “God cannot possibly want you to do this,” he ultimately convinced her with prayer that God was leading him onto the presidential path. “After a while she saw the same thing I did.”
In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a reporter, “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.” And after a string of bad luck pushed him into third place—offensive campaign ads, and laughable debate performances helped—his wife, Anita, likened him to Moses, and described his decision to run as heeding signs from above, relayed by her to her chosen husband. “He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president,” she said. “He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush, but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’”
And you can thank God for Michele Bachmann, too. In 2006, the Almighty ordered the mother of five to run for Congress. But He wasn’t finished, so in 2011 God urged her to run for the highest office. “Every decision that I make I pray about, as does my husband,” the Congresswoman explained. “And I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do…”
These candidates all claimed that God was the impetus and continuing force behind their campaigns. And every one, save Rick Santorum, claims they never wanted to do it in the first place. According to their own admissions, they had to be convinced by God to do his will.
And they all lost.
But then again, God never mentioned anything about winning.
God’s favorite candidates can all take heart in the words of another famous loser, Pat Robertson, who claimed the White House was as good as his in the 1988 election. The televangelist was another who initially resisted God’s call to run, but eventually relented. “I heard the Lord,” Robertson whispered in front of a New Hampshire church congregation along the campaign trail, “saying ‘I have something else for you to do. I want you to run for president of the United States.’” He went on, “I assure you that I am going to be the next president of the United States.”
After finishing a distant third, Robertson says in his book, The Plan, that he questioned his faith. “I’ve been asked the question a hundred times: ‘Did you miss God?’ I asked over and over, ‘Did I miss Your leading, Father? … Did I hear You? … Why didn’t I win?’”
Robertson’s soul searching led him to draw a comparison between his loss and Jesus Christ himself, whom, he writes, “failed by human standards but was part of God’s perfect plan. Was He hurt? Of course he was. Will He be vindicated? Gloriously so.”
“I followed God’s plan for me, so in His eyes I did win.”
Yesterday, Miranda reported on the seemingly contradictory views of the American Center for Law and Justice’s European and Slavic affiliates when it comes to blasphemy laws. The ECLJ has been vocal in opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but the SCLJ supported passage of a new anti-blasphemy law in Russia. The law provides for fines, “correctional labor” and up to three years behind bars for “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers.” SCLJ’s co-chairman Vladimir Rehyakovsky expressed some reservations about the final form of the law, but said it was “very important” to have such a law in place.
So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws? On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression. In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”
But more than a decade ago, in response to an “Ask Jay” question posted on the ACLJ’s website, the group’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said it was “an unfortunate situation” that states no longer have laws against blasphemy, something he blamed on “the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people.” Sekulow bemoaned the fact that “religion lacks protection in the law.”
Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?
Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.
So it appears that the ACLJ is ready to champion free speech when it comes to opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but supports restrictions on blasphemy in place where Christians are in the majority. Perhaps that double standard is not much of a surprise, given that the ACLJ, which portrays itself as a champion of religious liberty, helped lead opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in New York that critics inaccurately called the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”
But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.
And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.
Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.
In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ’s overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.
The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.
Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.
The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”
The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.
SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.
The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.
It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.
Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.
In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.
In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”
Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”
In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:
The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.
It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.
A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.
Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”
“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”
That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.
“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.
The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.
After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.
Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”
However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.
Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”
Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”
“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”
The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”
ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”
Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”
In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.
But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”
We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”
Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”
Puppink reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW
Benham Family Responds To HGTV Decision: 'Lying' Reports Sunk Show, Homosexuality 'Destroys' Nations
Yesterday, HGTV decided not to move forward with a reality TV show starring David Benham, less than 24 hours after Right Wing Watch exposed him as a far-right activist who has compared gays to Nazis and warned marriage equality will destroy society. Immediately, of course, the Religious Right drummed up the “persecution” narrative.
Anti-gay commentators including Laura Ingraham, David Limbaugh, Erick Erickson, Bryan Fischer, Peter LaBarbera and Janet Mefferd — along with groups including the Family Research Council and Faith Driven Consumer — all criticized HGTV for axing the show.
LaBarbera, who once joined fellow Religious Right activists in demanding that Fox News “cease using [gay rights advocate Wayne] Besen as a guest commentator,” appeared on Mefferd’s radio show today, where the two charged that HGTV’s cancellation of the show with undermined the freedom of speech.
Pat Robertson called the move “outrageous” and a sign that society is no longer “built around the Bible.” “Good grief, isn’t there supposed to be some freedom? Aren’t we supposed to have a First Amendment?”
He even linked it to a case in Saudi Arabia where a blogger was sentenced to 10 years in jail along with 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam.
David Benham and his brother Jason said in a statement that the controversy over their show was a result of “lying” and misinformation:"The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is; have we shined Christ’s light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying. Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views."
Their father Flip Benham, in an interview with LifeSiteNews, warned that “Christianity [is] systematically being criminalized” by “this juggernaut of the homosexual agenda.”
“Homosexuality is not a good thing,” he added. “It destroys those who practice it and nations that approve of it.”The boys’ father, Flip Benham, told LifeSiteNews.com exclusively that his family had not been notified about the cancellation before the network’s public announcement. “We have some contractual obligations to the people we are helping right now,” he said.
Flip Benham called the homosexual activist lobby “the biggest bully in the country.”
“There’s no one who dares oppose them,” he told LifeSiteNews. “No corporation would dare stand up to this juggernaut of the homosexual agenda.”
He said his family did nothing to hide their views from the network, which is distributed to 98 million U.S. households. “We knew – and so did HGTV – that this was a possibility,” Benham told LifeSiteNews.
He was sorry his sons had to pay for the actions of their father. “I think of my sons, who have to suffer for the fact that their dad speaks up about the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. But he held firm: “Homosexuality is not a good thing. It destroys those who practice it and nations that approve of it.”
“All over the country the battle’s being won, and now this battle has moved from one manifestation right into another,” calling the drive to normalize homosexuality “simply a different colored glove covering the same fist.”
“We are see [sic] Christianity systematically being criminalized,” Benham told LifeSiteNews, referencing this campaign and proposed “hate crimes” legislation. “If you are going to stand on what the Bible says, you are going to spend time in jail.”
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
U.S. abortion opponents are giving new life to the movement abroad, where once-stagnant European allies are pushing changes that could affect the whole continent.
A younger generation of anti-abortion activists has turned to the United States for legal advice, strategic training and transatlantic inspiration. They credit a distinctly American approach with forcing abortion, long a deeply private issue in Europe, into the public conversation. And for the Americans who travel overseas to assist, strengthening their cause internationally also strengthens their position at home.
“Let’s face it, the world is getting smaller every day,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, reached during a week of conferences and events in Rome. Any new abortion rights in Europe would be a “distinct threat to American law,” she said, because they give ammunition to domestic judges looking for an international consensus.
Yoest was in Italy to speak at several gatherings of international activists ahead of Sunday’s March for Life there, one of many European offshoots of the annual American demonstration. Last year, the Rome march drew up to 40,000 people, soaring from 800 two years earlier. Organizers hope for more than 50,000 this year.
That visibility has contributed to new restrictions. The legality of abortion itself, and what point in pregnancy it can be performed, is still up to individual European countries, and the continent has a broad range of laws. But pressed by the resurgent activists, some nations are passing more stringent laws. Liberal Norway this year moved to ban most abortions after fetal viability. Spain, which liberalized its abortion laws just four years ago, is poised to enact a near total ban.
In some respects, the European landscape is the opposite of the American movement, although the tactics and goals are similar. Here in the U.S., the Supreme Court ruling upholding abortion rights has been in place for 41 years, so the anti-abortion groups have been chipping away at abortion at the state and local levels. In Europe, the anti-abortion groups are fighting both at the national level as well as through the courts and commissions of the European Union, which can influence all 28 member countries.
The Americans are also trying to help their European allies shake things up and fight complacency, in part, by making their organizations more professional and their fights more public. For instance Lila Rose, the 25-year-old president of Live Action, spent part of April in London training other young activists on how to do media-ready exposés of abortion providers and shed light on the “hidden abuse” of abortion through stories of women who regret having ended their pregnancies.
“They are looking to see what has worked in the United States,” Rose said of her Europeans colleagues.
Terrence McKeegan, an American lawyer who has consulted with anti-abortion groups around the world for a decade, sees the impact.
“Until recently, the way that Europeans looked at everything was from a very academic, philosophical perspective,” McKeegan said.
“It’s not enough to just have good ideas and have the right ideas, but you have to have a very practical plan, a very strategic plan,” he added.
Not all the U.S. groups are active abroad. The National Right to Life Committee, America’s biggest anti-abortion group, has long coordinated with its European counterparts in the United Nations to prevent a declaration of a global right to abortion. But it hasn’t been doing on-the-ground work in Europe.
“Our laws are actually much worse than many European countries,” NRLC President Carol Tobias said. “We have enough work to do in our own backyard.”
The abortion rate in the U.S. in 2011 was actually lower than the most recent European Union average: about 17 per 1000 American women of childbearing age compared to 30 per 1000. But the rate varies in Europe. Western Europe has some of the lowest rates on the planet, according to the World Health Organization, closer to 12 per 1000. Eastern Europe is higher, but the rate is dropping.
But Americans are helping with transatlantic efforts to fight what they see as multiple threats to the unborn.
Capitalizing on a new citizen petition procedure, an anti abortion coalition recently compelled the European Commission to consider an embryo protection measure. The bid involved an unprecedented level of coordination among an American-affiliated legal group and grass-roots groups in European countries.
Known as the One of Us campaign, anti-abortion groups from 20 European countries collected nearly two million signatures on a petition calling for a ban on E.U. funding for anything that might entail destruction of an embryo, including international development and biotech research.
Those 1.8 verified signatures earned the bill a widely viewed public hearing before the European Commission, which now must decide whether to introduce the measure into the union’s legislative body.
The broad measure is not likely to become E.U. law. Yet the campaign’s show of strength startled family planning advocates and scientists, who saw it as a bid by the Catholic Church and American evangelical “extremists” to bring abortion fights to Brussels.
The anti-abortion movement is “getting a lot of visibility right now,” said Thilde Knudsen, head of the Europe Office at Marie Stopes International, which funds reproductive health and family planning programs, including abortion. But, she added, “I’m actually questioning how successful it is.”
As Grégor Puppinck, director general of the European Center for Law and Justice, presented One of Us’ measure at a crowded EU hearing in early April, opponents questioned his ties to the Rev. Pat Robertson. Based in Strasbourg, France, the European Center is an affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, which was co-founded by the conservative broadcaster, but Mr. Puppinck said in an interview that he and Robertson have never met. Jay Sekulow, a prominent conservative U.S. litigator and radio host, is chief counsel for both groups.
As important as the legal maneuvering, Puppinck said, was creating grass-roots ties between the national anti abortion organizations. He predicted that the online network built for this initiative could yield five million supporters for the next campaign.
“The professionalization comes a lot from the U.S.,” said Puppinck, echoing other activists, many of whom worked for groups affiliated with American organizations.
Ignacio Arsuaga, for instance, spent time observing anti-abortion movement while he studied law in the U.S. in the 1990s, and he brought home to Spain some of what he learned. His organization, HazteOir, is considered one of the most innovative in Europe, and it has been pivotal in the move to replace Spain’s liberalized abortion laws with a near total ban.
Arsuaga said he learned about online petitions and action alerts from the Christian Coalition, Americans United for Life, the Catholic League and even the liberal MoveOn.org. But one of the most effective tools he picked up in the U.S. is decidedly low tech: direct mail.
“People said this American model would never work in Europe,” said McKeegan. But Arsuaga tried snail mail in 2010, and his success with the fundraising technique has since spread.
Public displays of opposition like the annual March on Life in Washington were also unseemly to older generations of European anti-abortion advocates, but they inspired younger ones. Virginia Coda Nunziante spent years trying to convince the main Italian anti-abortion group to create a Rome march. She finally created her own group to organize it.
“They always said no, no, no, Italy’s a little bit different; we don’t have to go on the public square,” she recalled. They preferred private outreach, like crisis pregnancy counseling.
Of course the public square is a bit different in Rome. In Washington, the March ends at the Supreme Court. In Rome, it ends near the Vatican. Last year Pope Francis addressed the crowd.
At this point, said McKeegan, the European movement has fully matured — perhaps in some ways beyond its American mentors.
In the U.S., there are “a lot of turf battles,” he said, as multiple national anti-abortion groups jockey for prominence and donations. In Europe, however, there is generally just one dominant group in each country, making it easier to cooperate in Brussels without feeling competitive.
Rick Wiles Asks God To 'Deliver Us' From Obama, Demands Military Arrest President To Prevent 'Second Civil War'
The TruNews host said that the military must “take action soon to arrest Barack Obama and remove him and his regime from the White House” in order to save America from “collapse” and stop him from “instigat[ing] a second Civil War.”
I warned in 2008 that Barack Obama’s mission is to instigate a second Civil War in America. His regime is deliberately ripping the country apart and if the US Military doesn’t take action soon to arrest Barack Obama and remove him and his regime from the White House, there will be no country left for the military to defend. We are on the edge of collapse as a nation. Jesus Christ is America’s only hope. Let us pray that Almighty God delivers us from this very real tyranny that seeks to persecute the saints of God. -
From the 04.10.2014 edition of TruNews:
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
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
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
Wiles And Son: "Pat Robertson Attacked Young Earth Creationism Because He Wants To Fit In" | Right Wing Watch
As Jeremy Wiles explained, we could not possibly know that the earth is billions of years old because Noah’s flood would have washed away all the evidence. Thus, the reason that Robertson is making this claim, Wiles asserted, is "because he doesn’t want to feel like an outcast" and is trying to make the Bible fit in with the secular scientific worldview.
From the 02.24.2014 edition of TruNews:
h/t: Kyle Mantyla 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