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.
ZIP IT, TODD STARNES! No, The City Of Houston Isn't Bullying Anti-Gay Pastors - This Is Basic Lawyering
Conservative media outlets, led by Fox News, are attacking the city of Houston for subpoenaing a number of local pastors who were part of the right-wing opposition to the city’s LGBT non-discrimination ordinance that is suing the city now that the anti-discrimination law is in effect. But their claims that religious liberty should keep the pastors’ public addresses secret ignores the fact that subpoenas of parties relevant to a lawsuit are a typical part of the legal discovery process.
Conservative media reacted with outrage to reports that the city of Houston had subpoenaed five local pastors requesting a variety of documents related to their involvement in the legal battle over the city’s recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which prohibits discrimination against LGBT residents. The subpoenas included a request for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.”
On October 13, the anti-gay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, calling them “overbroad” and “unduly burdensome.” The motion was reported by Fox News’ Todd Starnes, who accused the city of Houston of trying to “silence American pastors” and “deconstruct religious liberty”:
I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.
Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.
Now is the time for pastors and people of faith to take a stand. We must rise up and reject this despicable strong-arm attack on religious liberty. We cannot allow ministers to be intimidated by government thugs.
Starnes’ apoplectic report triggered a wave of conservative misinformation about the subpoenas, with commentators accusing the city government of engaging in unconstitutional bullying and anti-religious harassment. Fox News has covered the story in similarly misleading segments on Fox & Friends, Hannity, and The Kelly File:
But the facts of the case - and normal legal procedure — don’t support right-wing claims of religious persecution:
The Subpoenas Are In Response To A Lawsuit Filed By HERO’s Opponents. The subpoenas are part of the discovery phase of a lawsuit filed by HERO’s opponents after they unsuccessfully tried to gather signatures to repeal the ordinance. The lawsuit claims that the City Attorney “wrongly determined that they had not gathered enough valid signatures” to qualify for a vote to repeal HERO. As one conservative commentator noted: “This is basic court procedure. But the headlines make it sound like a surprise attack by leftists advancing their agenda on unsuspecting Christians.”
Sermons Are Not Immune To Being Subpoenaed. As The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh explained, precedent suggests that information typically protected by the First Amendment can still be subpoenaed if it’s relevant to a legal investigation. This is especially true in situations where sermons were recorded and distributed for public use.
The Subpoenas Are Meant To Gather Information About Improper Church Behavior. The goal of the subpoenas is to gather information to support the city’s case that HERO opponents behaved inappropriately when gathering signatures to repeal HERO. City Attorney David Feldman cited a training video showing one of the subpoenaed pastors explain the rules for signature gathering at a church presentation, pointing out that such “political speech” is fair game and might support the city’s case for dismissing certain signatures.
Broad Subpoena Requests Aren’t Unusual. It’s not unusual for attorneys to request large amounts of information of plaintiffs and their associates in the discovery process, even if they expect those requests to be limited. Christian conservative author Dr. Joel McDurmon, who opposes the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, explains:
[W]hat happens when you file a lawsuit? You open up yourself and your relevant friends to discovery. Are the correspondences between these pastors and the Christian parties who filed the suit relevant to the case? It is possible that a judge could determine this is the case. That is what this subpoena is about.
And as any savvy lawyer would do, the defendants’ attorneys cast the largest net possible in requesting information. In my opinion, it is unnecessarily broad. In my opinion, the vast nature of demands violates several of the checks and precedents built into the court’s rules for discovery… But that’s part of what’s good about it. Those checks are there for a reason. Let’s be calm and file a demand that they be followed first before we cry end of the world. And sure enough, ADF’s motion to quash, or at least modify the subpoena, cites these very principles and checks.
This is not an attack on all Houston area pastors, and no impression should be allowed in that regard. It is a routine court procedure, not even final yet, against a handful a pastors—and only because they are implicated in a court case filed. [emphasis added]
The City Defends The Need For Information, ConcedesThe Subpoenas Could Be Narrower. In response to the outrage caused by conservative reporting about the subpoenas, Mayor Parker and Feldman admitted to reporters during an October 15 press conference that they found the wording of the subpoenas to be “overly broad”:
"Though Feldman stood behind the subpoena in an interview Tuesday, he and Parker said during the Mayor’s weekly press conference Wednesday that the wording was problematic. Feldman is monitoring the case, he said, but had not seen the subpoena written by outside counsel working pro-bono for the city until this week. Parker said she also did not know about the request until this week. There’s no question the wording was overly broad," [Parker] said. "But I also think there was some misinterpretation on the other side."
"I wouldn’t have worded it that way myself," Feldman said of the request. "It’s unfortunate that it has been construed as some effort to infringe upon religious beliefs."
The debate over Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance was riddled with conservative misinformation, including the myth that the measure would infringe on religious liberty. Now that the measure has passed, conservative media outlets are eager for evidence that their absurd horror stories are coming true. The city’s broad subpoenas may be easy targets for right-wing spin, but the boring reality of civil procedure is much less unusual than conservative media outlets would have their audiences believe.
h/t: Carlos Maza at MMFA
News of a massive student protest in Colorado against a “conservative-led school board proposal” has prompted Fox News to rethink its stance on student freedoms.
Earlier this week, hundreds of students across six high schools in Arvada, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms amid news of a “conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority.” The Associated Press reported that the curriculum proposal would establish a committee to ensure certain history materials “don’t ‘encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law’”:
Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”
The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
On September 25, Fox & Friends hosted Ken Witt, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, which oversees the Arvada schools, to discuss the protests. Amid chyrons like “Political Pawns” and “Teachers Are Using Students,” Witt alleged that the real issue was not the history curriculum proposal, but rather the upcoming teachers union contract :
WITT: That’s the unfortunate situation that’s going on. I believe that there is a significant amount of union conflict right now that we would like to not have. The issue is that it’s easy to get children out. It’s easy to use kids as pawns and it’s not right. We have a union contract that’s expiring in August of this year.
Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck parroted Witt’s allegations, saying, “What concerns me is that what I’m hearing from you, and correct me if I am wrong, is that there is someone else behind this planting it and using these students for their own gain.”
Though Fox hosted Witt to scapegoat teachers unions (an approach the network has taken multiple times) for the voluntary actions of students, Fox’s apparent disapproval of these protests stands in stark contrast with the network’s recent lauding of students exercising their First Amendment rights.
On September 2, Fox & Friends hosted student Madeline Taylor who the co-hosts claimed was “taking a stand” against the healthy school lunch program and plugged her “petition to bring back the pizza and French fries.” Co-host Steve Doocy argued that students should be able to decide their own lunches because “they’re the customer,” an unsurprising assertion given that Fox News has repeatedly attacked first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy lunch initiative.
In May, the Fox & Friends hosts smeared a Florida teacher as a “Bible Bully” for supposedly “humiliating” a student for reading his Bible during a free reading period, even though school officials maintained that he was reading his Bible during a “classroom ‘accelerated reading’ program.” Doocy recalled the student telling the teacher, “If you have a problem with this, you need to call my dad,” with Hasselbeck nodding and saying, “That’s right.” Fox radio host Todd Starnes later joined the program to assert that “The law is very clear - this young man does have the right to read that Bible in that classroom,” and Hasselbeck recollected that the “the Supreme Court … ruled that the prayers in open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution. It was a 5-4 decision.”
Such hypocrisy makes clear that Fox News only approves of students exercising their First Amendment freedoms when it fits the network’s conservative agenda.
h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA
At the Values Voter Summit, which begins this Friday, Republican politicians and Religious Right leaders will come together to rebuke President Obama, attack the gay community and decry the current state of affairs in the U.S.
Subtlety and nuance aren’t this crowd’s strong suits. In fact, it wasn’t that hard for us to come up with a list of at least 15 scheduled summit speakers and panelists who believe that America has gotten so bad under Obama’s leadership that the country has become just like Nazi Germany.
1. Tony Perkins
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins thinks that gay rights supporters are bent on ushering in an anti-Christian holocaust. When are LGBT activists “going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” he asked in June.
Soon afterwards, Perkins said a caller on his “Washington Watch” radio show “hit the nail on the head” when she claimed Christians in America are about to be “loaded in cattle cars like it was when the Nazis took over.”
2. Mike Huckabee
Former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee agreed last year that it was “the truth” that bills introduced to prevent gun violence are just like what happened in Nazi Germany. “[T]hey’ll start saying, ‘Oh there you go comparing to the Nazis.’ And I understand the reaction, but it’s the truth,” Huckabee said. “In every society and culture where dictators take over, one of the things they have to do is get control of the military and the police and ultimately all of the citizens and make sure the citizens are disarmed and can’t fight in the streets.”
Huckabee has also claimed that the legalization of same-sex marriage will compel Christians to defy the government in order to uphold their religious beliefs, just like people who aided Jews broke the law during the Holocaust : “It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal.”
3. Sandy Rios
American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said last year that the “War on Christmas” is driving Christians underground and oppressing religious expression: “This is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany.”
4. Glenn Beck
Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck is pretty sure that “we are Germany 1930.” Earlier this year, Beck agreed with venture capitalist Tom Perkins that billionaires in America are just like Jews under Nazi oppression and said that officials like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are aspiring concentration camp guards. He has also predicted that the government will “scoop up” Tea Party members and “be remembered as the most evil nation in the history of the world, we will dwarf what Germany did.”
Beck predicts that President Obama is on the verge of breaking down, at which point he will “round up” conservatives and “put them in a camp.”
5. Jerry Boykin
Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin accused President Obama of reviving Hitler’s Brownshirts through the health care reform law.
“Remember Hitler had the Brownshirts and in the Night of the Long Knives, even Hitler got scared of the Brownshirts and killed thousands of them. So you say ‘are there any signs that that’s happened?’ And the truth is, yes,” Boykin said in 2010. “If you read the health care legislation which, by the way nobody in Washington has read, but if you read the health care legislation it’s actually in the health care legislation…. It’s laying the groundwork for a constabulary force that will control the population in America.”
6. Michele Bachmann
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire during her presidential bid, Bachmann said that government inaction on the national debt reminded her of the world’s silence in the midst of the Holocaust. “We are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away. It is this disenfranchisement that I think we have to answer to,” she said.
Bachmann has also accused the Obama administration of setting up “reeducation camps for young people” through service-oriented programs like AmeriCorps.
In 2012, Bachmann alleged that the administration was “aiding and abetting” an Islamist plot to take over America and the rest of the world, calling on people to read about the Islamic “belief system” and find out “what they truly believe” just like how “the most important thing a person could do in World War II during that conflict was to read the book that the leader of Germany wrote.”
7. Jim Bob Duggar
In a speech to the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Jim Bob Duggar said his visit to Nazi concentration camps reminded him of the U.S., saying that the Holocaust is “where we are at in our nation.” When asked by reporters about his statement, Duggar said that America is experiencing “a baby holocaust.”
8. Todd Starnes
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes said last year that the so-called “War on Christmas” and purported acts of anti-Christian persecution under the Obama administration made him wonder if he was living in the U.S. or Nazi Germany: “This is not 1930s Germany, gentlemen, this is the United States of America, and unless people of faith stand up and put a stop to this, we very well could be facing a 1930s Germany here.”
9. Mat Staver
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel believes that the U.S. under President Obama’s leadership is now actually worse than Nazi Germany. He said this month that the Obama administration surpassed Nazi Germany’s crimes by “forcing” people to “participate in a genocide” through the contraceptive coverage mandate. He has also repeatedly argued that legal abortion is the same as the Holocaust.
Earlier this year, Staver drew a Nazi analogy while demanding that conservatives more strongly oppose gay marriage: “This is not an issue in which you can remain silent any more than you can remain silent during Nazi Germany.”
10. Louie Gohmert
Texas congressman Louie Gohmert — who early on in Obama’s term agreed with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ predictions that the president would introduce policies reminiscent of Hitler — took to the House floor in May to accuse gay rights advocates of treating their opponents in the same way that the Nazis demonized the people they oppressed:So it is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen. People that stand up and say, you know, I agree with the majority of Americans, I agree with Moses and Jesus that marriage was a man and a woman, now all of a sudden, people like me are considered haters, hate mongers, evil, which really is exactly what we’ve seen throughout our history as going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. What did they do? First, they would call people “haters” and “evil” and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage. And then the next came, well, those people are so evil and hateful, let’s bring every book that they’ve written or has to do with them and let’s start burning the books, because we can’t tolerate their intolerance.
11. Mark Levin
Conservative talk radio show host Mark Levin claimed last year that President Obama was organizing a Brownshirt paramilitary to defend and promote the Affordable Care Act. “All they need is special uniforms,” Levin said of Obamacare supporters. “Learn how to march and salute and carry flags. I think brown would be good, you know, Brownshirts.”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Levin said then-presidential candidate Obama was “really into these big German-like events” reminiscent of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
12. Ed Vitagliano
After the 2008 election, the American Family Association’s Ed Vitagliano urged the organization’s members to pray for President Obama just as one would pray for Adolf Hitler to veer away from his wicked ways. He especially urged his readers to pray to block Obama’s “plans to push both abortion and the gay agenda.”
“Obama is like Hitler because, while Hitler primarily slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust, Obama’s support for abortion is similarly evil,” Vitagliano said. “Now I think the moral equivalency of the Holocaust and abortion is a good, defensible argument. Both objectified a category of human beings and then took horrifying steps to pursue their murder. The depths of evil connected to the Holocaust and abortion are equally difficult to comprehend.”
13. Harry Jackson
Religious right activist and preacher Harry Jackson said in 2012 that the success of “radical gay activists” was turning America into Nazi Germany:They want to impose their will on the culture and if you cannot reproduce you may try to recruit, and what I mean by that is what is going on is an attempt to reshape, refashion the mind, hearts and desires of the next generation. Many Christians are sitting back and we aren’t speaking out, but the reality is just like during the times of Hitler we have people coming after one group after another group after another group, and folks are saying, well this doesn’t affect me I’ll let this slide, we have a problem that really we have a whole generation of people who want to affect not only their lives and choices but the choices of another generation.
14. Rick Santorum
After losing his 2012 presidential bid, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum became a Christian film producer, and he recently unveiled a new movie called “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.” Santorum’s latest film depicts the U.S. in a dire state eerily similar to Nazi Germany, warning that America’s transformation into a tyrannical, Nazi state will be complete thanks to the silence of conservative Christians. You can get some of the flavor of the film from its trailer, which includes footage of Germany in the 1930s.
While campaigning against for president, Santorum also told a church gathering that people should get involved in his bid to defeat Obama just as the Greatest Generation fought the spread of Nazism.
15. Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz launched his faux-filibuster against Obamacare by arguing that refusing to fight the implementation of the health care reform law was just like appeasing Adolf Hitler, and people who didn’t support his plans to stop the law were like Neville Chamberlain.
As Jon Stewart explains, “Ted Cruz says we’re at Defcon Nazi.”
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
Media personalities rushed to scandalize President Obama for saluting Marines while simultaneously holding a coffee cup, criticizing the move as disrespectful — forgetting former President George W. Bush’s habit of saluting service members while holding his dog.
President Obama Salutes Marines While Holding A Cup
Wash. Post: “Obama Salutes A Marine While Holding A Cup.”The Washington Post reported that President Obama saluted Marines flanking him as he exited Marine One in New York on Tuesday, with a cup in hand:
[Washington Post, 9/23/14]
Media Invent A Salute Scandal To Attack Obama
Fox Nation Suggests Obama’s Salute Was Disrespectful. FoxNews.com’s September 23 “Pic of the Day” featured President Obama’s salute and a caption that asked “Was Obama’s Salute Disrespectful?” [FoxNews.com, 9/23/14]
ABCNews: Obama’s “Unusual Gesture” Dubbed The “Latte Salute.” ABC News’ The Note blog reported on President Obama’s salute, calling it an “unusual gesture,” and nicknaming it the “latte salute.” [ABC News, 9/23/14]
Breitbart: “Obama’s Disrespectful ‘Latte Salute’ Shocks And Offends.” Breitbart criticized the president’s “sloppy salute,” claiming the gesture shocked and offended people. [Breitbart, 9/23/14]
Fox Contributor Allen West: "Latte Salute" Proves Obama’s Low Regard For Military. Fox contributor Allen West tweeted that President Obama’s salute “seals the deal,” as proof of the low regard Obama has for the American military:
Conservative Pundit Jim Hoft: “Most Degrading Salute Ever.” Conservative pundit Jim Hoft tweeted that President Obama reached “a new low,” calling his salute the “most degrading salute ever”:
Fox Radio Host Todd Starnes Calls The Salute “Disrespect.” Fox radio host Todd Starnes tweeted that the president’s salute meant “disrespect”:
President Bush RoutinelySaluted Service Members While Holding His Dog
President George W. Bush Saluted While Holding His Dog. During his tenure as president, George W. Bush was photographed saluting while holding his Scottish Terrier, Barney:
LA Times: President Bush Saluted While Holding Barney. On another occasion, the LA Times reported that President Bush saluted service-members holding his dog, Barney, while departing Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base:
This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.
In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.
The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.
The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.
But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:
- Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
- Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
- Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
- Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
- Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
- Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the “War on Terror” as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”
Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:
- Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
- Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
- Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
- Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.
Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:
- Suggested that the president was using health care reform to create his own personal army of Brownshirts.
- Claimed that President Obama “does not respect America” and wants to intentionally cripple the country so he can gain global power.
- Called the legalization of same-sex marriage “the beginning of the end of Western Civilization,” warning it will lead to “forced homosexuality.”
- Claimed that Obamacare has forced Americans to “participate in a genocide” worse than the persecution that occurred in Nazi Germany.
- Defended Malawi’s law criminalizing homosexuality and said U.S. opposition to criminalization was “immoral.”
- Alleged that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, if passed, would lead to child molestation, sexual assault, and even death.
Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:
- Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
- Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
- Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
- Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.
James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and of the Family Research Council, currently hosts a “Family Talk” radio program and is a frequent guest panelist on Fox News. He is known for his extremist stances against reproductive health rights, homosexuality, and the separation of church and state. Dobson has:
Likened conditions in the U.S. under the Obama administration to oppression in Nazi Germany.
Argued that marriage equality will bring about the disintegration of society.
Warned that American Christians should prepare for imminent persecution and imprisonment.
Described the Sandy Hook school massacre as an act of God that allowed “judgment to fall upon us” for things like abortion rights and marriage equality.
Twin brothers Jason and David Benham were catapulted to national attention this year when an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause célèbre for the Religious Right, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:
- Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual fight" between God and the “kingdom run by Satan.”
- Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
- Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
- Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking” America.
- Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
- Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”
The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:
- Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
- Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
- Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
- Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”
Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:
- Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “into the closet.”
- Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
- Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
- Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.
Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America,” specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:
- Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
- Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
- Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
- Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
- Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.
Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States . Rios has also:
- Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
- Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
- Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
- Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
- Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.
UPDATED (09.26.2014, 12:10PM CDT):
Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “ secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:
- Implied that President Obama is secretly a Muslim.
- Argued that Muslims should be banned from serving in public office because a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
- Warned that Muslim Students’ Associations are waging “a stealth jihad against America through the indoctrination of our youth on college campuses.”
- Claimed “[w]hat we are seeing in public schools today is basically the talking points of our enemies being fed to our sixth and seventh graders in the name of diversity and multiculturalism, teaching them about religion.”
H/T: Drew Courtney at RWW
In an interview last month on the Daystar program “Joni,” Fox News commentator Todd Starnes agreed with the suggestion that marriage equality will legalize man-dog marriage.
Discussing the case of a Colorado bakery that denied service to a same-sex couple (and which ironically baked a cake for a “dog wedding”), Starnes agreed with cohost Rachel Lamb’s assertion that man-dog marriage is on its way, saying, “when you redefine marriage, that means anything goes.”
Starnes also said gay rights will lead to the imprisonment of pastors and restrictions on the freedom of speech, adding that Christians in America are being “persecuted” and “beat up” just like Chinese Christians.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Starnes: Obama Won't Confront ISIS Because He Is 'Accommodating The Islamic Faith At The Expense Of All Other Faiths'
Todd Starnes called into Alice Stewart’s radio show today to discuss a report from Fox News claiming that President Obama had been briefed on ISIS for over a year but took no action, with Starnes citing this report as evidence that Obama is refusing to confront radical Islamic groups because he favors Islam over Christianity.
Stewart warned that Obama is letting militant groups rise throughout the Middle East as “just the first step in the Islamification of America” and Starnes agreed, saying that “this may very well be the subject of my next book.”
"The soft targets in this country are the churches," Starnes said, "and we do know that the terrorists are living among us; it’s just a matter of when they are going to strike and who they’re going to strike. If nothing else, and this is going to be a very controversial statement, but looking at the evidence we have, this president’s administration seems to be accommodating the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths and that is a troubling thing. This needs to nipped in the bud. The president needs to put on the big boy pants and he needs to do the job that he was elected to do, which is to protect our country from the bad guys."
"This is the worst example of bullying of Christians there is," Stewart added, "and we have no strategy whatsoever to deal with it":
h/t; Kyle Mantyla at RWW
Insanely hateful racist Todd Starnes slanders President Obama for sending condolences to Mike Brown
Fixed Noise commentator Todd Starnes embarrasses this country yet again by slandering President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for the events in Ferguson, Missouri:
Holder vows to monitor shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Why didn’t he monitor the “flash mob” attacks or knockout attacks. #doublestandard— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 11, 2014
Hey Ferguson, Missouri shopkeepers — watch this before you decide to rebuild. http://t.co/F6onzSGujI— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 11, 2014
Street Justice in Ferguson, MO means looting the local Taco Bell. Business owners should be running for the border.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 11, 2014
Will Holder investigate the reporter who got beat or the death threats against the mayor or the mob shouting ‘Kill the Police’? #ferguson— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 11, 2014
Why isn’t Holder standing in solidarity with the businesses that were looted and burned? #ferguson— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Why isn’t Holder denouncing the violent attack on a St. Louis new photographer and videographer? #ferguson— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Obama releases statement mourning death of Michael Brown — calls it heartbreaking.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
First Obama speaks out for the Harvard professor - then Trayvon - and now Michael Brown. I’m sensing a pattern…— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Obama sends “deep condolences” to family of MO teen killed after allegedly attacking police officer. No condolences for the cop.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Why didn’t Obama release a statement offering support to the business owners whose stores were looted?— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
Why didn’t Obama release a statement supporting the journalists who were attacked by the angry mob?— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 12, 2014
I don’t seem to recall Obama issuing a statement on behalf of this guy http://t.co/Oxl36Yezsi— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 13, 2014
Meet The Latest Conservative To Cry Persecution: Iowa Newspaper Editor Who Said Satan Is Behind The 'Gaystapo'
We have watched conservatives claim again and again that they are the victims of liberal persecution, which allows them to then embark on the almost routine practice of filing a lawsuit with the help of a Religious Right legal group or making an appeal to the media, then appearing on right-wing talk radio shows and Fox News and then, if they are really good at describing their purported persecution, landing a book deal to allow them to repeat the process anew.
So meet the next contender in the persecution Olympics: Bob Eschliman, who lost his job at a newspaper after writing a blog post on his personal website about how people must fight Satan and his minions in the evil “Gaystapo.”
The Newton Daily News fired him as editor-in-chief over the blog post, which he has since bravely removed from his website. He insists that he is the victim of having “sincerely held religious beliefs” and is now suing the newspaper, citing religious discrimination.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes – who frequently describes the plight of persecuted Americana Christians, even when he is completely making it up or pushing a totally untrue story – has predictably picked up Eschliman’s tale and turned it into a column describing the tragic saga of this good, decent Christian man losing his Constitutional rights.Bob Eschliman is a Christian. He’s also a veteran news editor. And when he decided to write a column on his personal blog objecting to a gay-friendly version of the Bible, Bob was unceremoniously marched out of the Newton Daily News and shoved out the front door.
After a brief investigation, the Iowa newspaper fired Bob and then publicly castigated him in an editorial. They accused him of compromising the reputation of the newspaper. They said what he wrote resulted in the loss of public trust.
“If you ask me, it sounds like the Gaystapo is well on its way,” Bob wrote. “We must fight back against the enemy.”
Wednesday, Bob filed formal charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News. Attorneys from Liberty Institute allege the newspaper and its parent company are guilty of religious discrimination and retaliation.
And based on my conversations with Liberty Institute attorneys – they’re going to go after the newspaper like a pit bull going after a pork chop.
“No one should be fired for simply expressing their religious beliefs,” Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys told me. “That’s exactly what happened to Bob. This kind of religious intolerance has no place in today’s welcoming work force. In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for simply expressing a religious belief that his or her employer may not share.”
Dys said Bob was fired for trying to “explain his belief in Holy Scripture along with the definition of marriage.”
So are Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News anti-Christian? Do they employ executives who are religious bigots? Should journalists who endorse traditional marriage simply not apply for jobs?
And then there was the matter of the content. At first glance, it appears Bob was referring to the LGBT community as “the enemy.”
But it turns out – that’s not the case at all. He said he was referring to Satan – not homosexuals.
So for what it’s worth – Shaw Media decided that Bob, a faithful husband and father, a devout and outspoken Christian man, an award-winning journalist – did not represent the values of their company.
Maybe Shaw Media ought to reconsider its values.
It’s a shame a company that exists, thanks to freedom of press, wants to take away a man’s freedom of speech.
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
GATHERING OF LEMMINGS, OR COLLECTIVELY, WHY I LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: FRC Announces 2014 Values Voters Summit Lineup: A Cavalcade Of Crackpots [TW: Anti-LGBT Bigotry, Homophobia]
Tony Perkins fancies himself to be a GOP presidential candidate kingmaker, so it will be interesting to see if any not entirely crazy Republicans will join the above careening clown car crowded with the cavalcade of crackpots who failed in 2012, some of whom (Paul, Perry, Santorum) are expected to make a 2016 run. Ted Cruz won last year’s Values Voters Summit presidential straw poll with 42% of the vote, the largest margin ever seen in that poll’s history and light years ahead of runners-up Frothy Mix and Ben Carson, who barely landed in the double digits.
Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes attacked an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, accusing the Obama administration of being “hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda.”
On July 21, President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating LGBT employees. The order amends existing non-discrimination executive orders to include sexual orientation and gender identity. As BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reported, the order “contains no additional religious exemptions … beyond those already contained in existing executive orders.”
Fox’s Starnes attacked the executive order in a July 21 post on FoxNews.com, accusing the Obama administration of endangering religious liberty and “bullying religious groups that hold viewpoints it deems inappropriate”:
The executive order would prevent Christian and other religious organizations with federal contracts from requiring workers to adhere to the tenets of their religious beliefs. And that includes religious Christian colleges and universities that provide financial aid to students.
"If religious organizations cannot require that their employees conduct themselves in ways consistent with the teachings of their faith - then, essentially, those organizations are unable to operate in accordance with their faith," Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, told me.
"The mask is coming off of the homosexual movement’s agenda. They really do not believe in religious liberty. They want forced affirmation of homosexual and transgender conduct to trump every other consideration in the workplace - including religious liberty."
The Obama administration seems hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda. Resistance is futile.
Starnes’ commentary is typical of the Fox News personality, who’s made a career acting as the network’s mouthpiece for some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT hate groups. The Family Research Council’s (FRC) Sprigg, for example, has called for the exporting of gay people out of the U.S. and endorsed the criminalization of homosexuality. Pastor Robert Jeffress, another critic cited in Starnes’ post, is notorious for his extreme comments about LGBT people and Muslims.
Starnes’ fear-mongering about the executive order’s lack of religious exemptions grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the directive, which merely extends existing non-discrimination protections to include LGBT employees of federal contractors. As the New York Times editorial board recently explained:
This is not a question of religious freedom. It is a question of whether to allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate in employment against a particular group of people… [T]he presidential order … would extend those rules to companies that receive federal contracts in states without those kinds of anti-bias laws, protecting millions more people.
Mr. Obama’s resolve is being tested. There is no good reason to give religious employers a special privilege to inflict undeserved pain by, for example, refusing to hire someone to work on a government-backed project just because she happens to be a lesbian, or firing a capable employee who marries someone of the same sex.
h/t: Carlos Maza at MMFA
Todd Starnes showed a shocking lack of taste (even for him) when he reacted to the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with snarky attacks on President Obama. Kudos to Fox’s Greta Van Susteren for calling him out on it.
While most people probably took the news of the airline crash with sorrow and concern, Starnes thought of smearing Obama. Here’s a grab from Starnes’ twitter feed during the hour that the news broke of the crash.
An hour later, Starnes thought of this:
But in case you think I only criticize Greta Van Susteren, here’s a big shout out to her for having the gumption to stand up to her own colleague. On In a blog post called, "NOTE TO FNC’s TODD STARNES: THIS IS VERY BAD TASTE, 295 PEOPLE DIED," Van Susteren wrote, “This is not the time to be snarky or have some pathetic attempt at humor. Let me repeat… 295 people died.”
Good for her!
H/T Media Matters.
NOTE: I don’t agree with Greta Van Susteren very often; however, in this instance, she is correct to slam her fellow colleague Todd Starnes.
A Texas charity has abandoned a plan to help house child migrants after conservative media outlets used misleading images to suggest displaced children would be living there in luxury conditions. In fact, the same charity operates other no-frills facilities and had planned to convert a hotel in a similar style.
Conservative media have promoted multiple conspiracy theories connected to the humanitarian migration crisis, including the accusation that President Obama “planned” the recent surge of child migrants across the border for political reasons, that migrant children are infecting Americans with rare diseases, and that Obama is allowing violent gang members to cross the border.
The charity, BCFS Health and Human Services, received a federal contract to house the children at the current site of the Palm Aire Hotel and Suites in Weslaco, Texas. Inan interviewwith local TV station KRGV, BCFS officials said the facility would undergo a renovation to create a dormitory-style atmosphere at the facility.
The plans for the new facility had calledfor 600beds for children between the ages of 12 and 17. BCFS would have taken the children from Border Patrol custody and housed them for an average of 15 days. The group also operatesa facility in Harlingen, Texas, and atemporary facilityat Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
Ina press releaseon July 16, BCFS announced that it had withdrawn its plans to develop the Weslaco facility due to “negative backlash caused by information misreported to the public.”
Conservative media have mostly ignored BCFS’ statement that the facility was going to be renovated and have used marketing images of the Palm Aire Hotel to leave the impression that the children would be housed in luxury conditions.
On the July 16 edition of Fox News’The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson described the facility as “living the American dream on the taxpayer’s dime” and highlighted the fact that the resort currently has a pool.
Correspondent William La Jeunesse used his fingers to signify air quotes to describe the “emergency” of the migration situation and suggested the plans for the hotel are a “symbol of bad federal planning.”
In a story headlined "Feds to house illegal immigrants at multimillion-dollar hotel," Fox News reporter Todd Starnes wrote on FoxNews.com that “the Obama administration could soon be housing hundreds of illegal immigrant children at a multimillion-dollar hotel complex in Texas, just a few miles from the Mexican border” and highlighted that “the 7-acre site features three swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, concierge service and a Jacuzzi.” (The text of thearticlehas since been updated and substantially revised.)
Ina tweetpromoting his story, Starnes wrote, “Feds to house illegals at hotel - with poolside cabanas and concierge service,” but at the bottom of his original story on FoxNews.com, he admitted that “the illegals should not expect concierge service at the poolside cabanas. BCFS tells me it will more than likely fill in the swimming pools with dirt.”
The conservativeGateway Punditblogsaid, “The beautiful Palm Aire resort and hotel has an indoor Olympic sized pool and an outdoor pool. Free Wi-Fi and cable TV are included in the simply decorated guest rooms.” The post used images of the hotel’s pools and tennis courts as it described the planned facility as a “resort hotel for illegal alien children.”
The post noted that the $50 million contract for the hotel’s renovation “is not part of the $3.7 billion emergency funding for the illegal alien invasion requested by the Obama administration as the bill hasn’t yet passed but it is a good indication of where the money will go.”
Gateway Pundit’s post was featured at the top of the Drudge Report, which has been pushing anti-immigrant stories for several days now.
Meanwhile, BCFS told KRGV that the interior of the new facility would look similar to the “dorm room” style of its existing facilities.
Google Mapsimagesof the hotel in 2011 show a much more mundane exterior than the luxury facility described by Fox and others.
The Family Research Council came out yesterday with a report on “hostility to religion in America,” a collection of anecdotes from the past 14 years supposedly illustrating the persecution of conservative Christians in the U.S.
Some anecdotes highlighted in the report are troubling incidents that FRC admits were later rectified. Others are incidents that we might not all count as examples of religious hostility — for instance Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean being “mocked and ridiculed” for her answer to a question on same-sex marriage in 2009. Still others are stories of dubious accuracy — for instance, the story of a girl in Florida supposedly punished for praying at school, who just so happened to be the daughter of the man in charge of promoting Todd Starnes’ book on Christian persecution.
And then there was this:
Minister’s Invitation to National Prayer Luncheon Revoked because of His Comments on Homosexuality in the Military – February 2010*
An ordained minister and Marine Corps veteran was punished for speaking out on a topic unrelated to his planned comments at the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C. The minister criticized President Obama’s call to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, resulting in his invitation to speak at the National Prayer Luncheon being rescinded. The minister criticized the action as “black-listing” to suppress unwanted viewpoints.
Who is this unnamed minister who was disinvited from the National Prayer Luncheon? He wasn’t just a minister who had criticized “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. He was none other than the Family Research Council’s own president Tony Perkins.
This attempt to gloss over Perkins’ identity to make him seem like an innocent bystander to a vast anti-Christian agenda highlights a key strategy in the Religious Right’s persecution narrative. Like David and Jason Benham, who lost a TV contract with HGTV after Right Wing Watch reported on their vocal and public anti-gay, anti-choice activism (and who are also featured in FRC’s report), Tony Perkins is not just a private citizen who holds anti-gay views. He’s the leader of a major organization that opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” with misleading claims and demeaning rhetoric. You can agree or disagree with Perkins being disinvited from the prayer luncheon. But FRC would like us to believe that disagreement with Tony Perkins is the very same thing as hostility to religion.
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW