Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Posts tagged "War On Christmas"

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/persecution-complex-religious-right-s-deceptive-rallying-cry

In the thick of virtually every hot-button cultural battle to engulf Texas  in recent years has been Jonathan Saenz - the president of a lobbying group called Texas Values, a regular spokesman for right-wing causes in local media, and a rabidly theocratic, anti-LGBT extremist.

This May, during the debate over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance - a measure that prohibits discrimination based on characteristics including sexual orientation, and gender identity - Saenz emerged as a leading voice against the proposal in local media. Local news outlets described him as an attorney or social conservative, obscuring the extremist worldview that undergirded his fight against the ordinance.

With an effort underway to repeal the ordinance, which Houston’s City Council passed eleven to six on May 28, Saenz is certain to remain in the spotlight as the fight over its LGBT protections continues.

Saenz’s group, Texas Values, is the lobbying arm of the Plano, TX-based Liberty Institute, an organization notorious for peddling discredited stories about supposed threats posed by government and progressive activists to religious liberty. Upon Texas Values’ launch in 2012, Saenz became its founding president, following a stint as Liberty Institute’s top lobbyist in Austin. Texas Values’ biography of Saenz notes that he “has been featured in local, national, and international media” including cable networks Fox News and CNN, where he has discussed such topics as school prayer and Texas conservatives’ effort to remake the state’s social studies curriculum.

But those media appearances only hinted at the far-right vision informing Saenz and Texas Values’ work.

Texas Values’ Right-Wing Crusades

Much of Texas Values’ work centers on its fight against LGBT equality, which includes opposing even basic protections for LGBT people:

  • In January, the organization applauded Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for “stand[ing] up against lesbian mayor" Annise Parker after Abbott filed court briefs opposing Parker’s bid to extend insurance benefits to Houston employees’ same-sex spouses.
  • The group opposes efforts to curb anti-LGBT bullying, contending that those efforts grant “special rights” to “homosexuals.”
  • Texas Values even supports keeping anti-sodomy laws on the books. While the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision found state anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, Texas’ law is still on the books. In 2013, Texas Values opposed legislation that would have repealed the law, assailing the bill as part of an effort to push a gay “agenda.”

Texas Values also beats the drum of a litany of typical right-wing social causes. The group opposes comprehensive sex education in schools and has attacked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis for her support for reproductive rights and the gay “anti-family agenda,”

The group also pushes the tired right-wing myth of a “war on Christmas” - but with a distinctly conspiracy-minded fervor. According to the group, that “war” is “a key front in the radical movement to remove all religious expression from the public square” and to create a world in which children are too afraid to even talk about Christmas at school.

Religious Extremism

But Texas Values fear mongering about a “radical movement” aimed at purging Christianity from public life pales in comparison to Saenz’s extreme views on the separation of church and state. To hear Saenz tell it, such a separation doesn’t even exist.

In 2010, conservatives on the Texas Board of Education implemented new social studies standards that heralded American capitalism, cast doubt on the founders’ vision of a secular republic, and promoted teaching of “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.” Saenz, then Liberty Council’s director of legislative affairs, was a prominent supporter of the conservatives’ revamped standards, calling it “untrue and factually and historically inaccurate" that the Constitution separates church and state.

Saenz’s effort to turn public education into a training program from Christian fundamentalism doesn’t end there. Saenz lambastes evolution as a “left-wing ideology” that “any respectable scientist” should see through. It’s clear, then, that he doesn’t hold the scientific community in much esteem; in September 2013, Saenz went after evolution supporters on the Texas Board of Education for wanting to "bow down to the scientific community." He’s also a strong proponent Bible classes in public schools, accusing opponents of such classes of being “enemies of religious freedom.”

But Saenz’s concern for religious sensibilities doesn’t extend to Muslims. In September 2010, the Texas Board of Education passed a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit references to Islam, ostensibly to combat the stealth influence of Middle Easterners in textbook publishing. Saenz lauded the resolution as “doing the right thing … to prevent any type of religious discrimination or treat any religion in a way that’s incomplete.” Interfaith clergy members weren’t as impressed, condemning the resolution as “inflammatory” and “unwise.” 

Anti-LGBT Extremism

Saenz has been similarly extreme and inflammatory in his campaigns against even basic protections for the LGBT community.

While campaigning against Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, Saenz repeated the thoroughly debunked right-wing myth that sexual predators would exploit the ordinance’s gender identity protections to sneak into restrooms and ”terrorize women and children.”

Saenz made the same argument when lobbying against a similar non-discrimination measure in San Antonio, warning that the proposal would “allow men into women’s restrooms” - a claim that PolitiFact Texas rated “false.” Like other right-wing opponents of San Antonio’s ordinance, Saenz baselessly framed the measure as an attack on Christians, warning that the ordinance would be wielded as "a weapon against people of faith and family values."

His crusade against Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance relied heavily on an attempt to drive a racial wedge between supporters and opponents of the proposal, making sure to note on numerous occasions that there were Latinos and African-Americans who opposed the ordinance. 

In keeping with his pattern of assailing LGBT rights as a threat to religious liberty, Saenz championed Arizona’s notorious SB 1062, a law that would have protected business owners who refuse service to LGBT customers, falsely suggesting that the measure was needed to prevent churches from being forced to perform same-sex weddings.

When he’s not working to thwart even basic protections for LGBT people, Saenz promotes a number of tired and ridiculous myths about LGBT people. Saenz has peddled the bogus “slippery slope” argument against marriage equality, arguing that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will lead to "polygamy and polyandry" and potentially to people marrying their stepchildren.

He’s also a vocal proponent of harmful ex-gay therapy, which he claims is based on valid science. Indeed, Saenz’s solution to the existence of gay people is to tell them that “it’s never too late” for them to “change.”

Saenz’s fact-free approach to combating LGBT equality is symptomatic of his broader unwillingness to be confronted with facts, evidence, and even lives that don’t comport with his myopic view of the world.

He’s not just a “social conservative;” he’s a man whose career is defined by a penchant for using inflammatory rhetoric and outright misinformation to demean the LGBT community.

Texas and national media outlets would do well to identify him accordingly.      

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

h/t: Katie Halper at AlterNet 

Fox News contributor busted again for pushing fake story about persecution of Christians (via Raw Story )

A Fox News correspondent has been busted again for pushing a one-sided story claiming religious persecution of Christians. Todd Starnes helped promote a story about a California first-grader who allegedly was not allowed to give a one-minute presentation…

Who Is Pastor Robert Jeffress?

Long before he was making appearances on America’s most watched cable news shows, Robert Jeffress was acting as the young pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls. Despite his Evangelical background, Jeffress’ early ministry work wasn’t defined by fire-and-brimstone-type condemnations of homosexuality. In 1998, however, Jeffress made his first public foray into the culture war. According to D Magazine's Michael J. Mooney:

He had just finished preparing a portion of a sermon titled “We Cannot Condone What God Has Condemned” when a member of his church came to him one morning with two books from the Wichita Falls public library. The books, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate, are both about children raised by gay couples, and the latter features an illustration of two men in a bed together.

[…]

He thought about those books. And when he was preaching his message that Sunday, something welled up inside of him. The words just came out. “I’m gonna take my stand right here!” he said. “I’m not gonna return these books!”

Jeffress went on to spearhead an effort to remove the books from the Wichita Falls public library - an effort that earned him national attention as the City Council and ACLU became involved in the dispute. A judge eventually ruled that it was unconstitutional to exclude the books from the library, but the incident helped propel Jeffress’ popularity among Evangelicals, and his congregation expanded as a result.

In 2007, Jeffress became the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, where his national profile continued to grow. In March of 2013, the church opened a new $130 million church campus - completing the “largest Protestant church building campaign in modern history.”

[…]

Since spearheading the campaign to get gay-friendly books removed from the Wichita Falls public library, Jeffress hasn’t evolved much in his views on homosexuality or the LGBT community. Though he claims he’s now willing to consider the possibility that homosexuality is a “genetic predisposition,” Jeffress has peddled a number of extreme anti-gay smears, including:

Jeffress’ bigotry isn’t just directed at LGBT people; he’s also made a number of disparaging comments about other religions, including the claim that Islam is a violent religion that “promotes pedophilia" and that Muslims, Mormons, and Jews are doomed to go to hell.

Jeffress’ extremism hasn’t got unnoticed. In February of 2013, former NFL player Tim Tebow announced that he was withdrawing from an event held at Jeffress’ church after being informed about the pastor’s history of bigoted comments:

Jeffress denied the charges of extremism, supported by a number of prominent right-wing media figures. Fox News reporter Todd Starnes published several columns accusing the “anti-Christian media" of having "smeared" the pastor, and notorious hate group American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer cited the incident to argue that Jeffress had become "the Most Important Man in America.”

But Tebow’s public rebuking of Jeffress’ extremism hasn’t been enough to temper the pastor’s public rhetoric. In a press release for his new book Perfect Ending, Jeffress asserted that President Obama’s policies are “paving the way for the Antichrist.”

Nor has it deterred cable news outlets from treating Jeffress like a credible media commentator. In December, for example, CNN invited the pastor to discuss the controversy surrounding anti-gay remarks made by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jeffress used the opportunity to defend his view that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles than straight men.

H/T: MMFA

On Sunday, John Hagee delivered a sermon to his congregation during which he raged against the supposed “War on Christmas” which he began by declaring that America was founded as, and still remains, a Christian nation. As such, if atheists and humanists don’t like being wished a “Merry Christmas” … well, they can just get out of the country.

Telling atheists to get out of America is one of Hagee’s favorite pieces of advice, so it was no surprise to hear him declare it again during his Sunday sermon when he told any atheists listening that "if you pass a manger scene and someone is singing ‘Joy To The World,’ you can take your Walkman and stuff it into your ears, or you can call your lawyer, or you can just exercise your right to leave the country; planes are leaving every hour on the hour, get on one."

h/t: RWW

Rep. Lamborn cites ‘pluralism’ to push ‘save Christmas’ bill that excludes all other religions (via http://crooksandliars.com)

By David December 24, 2013 10:16 am The hosts of Fox & Friends on Tuesday thanked Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) for what they said was a “bipartisan effort” to “save Christmas,” while excluding all other holidays from all other religions. The hosts…



 
Bill O’Reilly uses image of dark-skinned Saint Nicholas to prove Santa is white (via Raw Story )

Monday night on his Fox News show, host Bill O’Reilly defended his colleague Megyn Kelly, who recently made news for declaring Santa to be a white man. “As you may know, Ms. Megyn Kelly causing some controversy after she said last week that Santa…



 

From the 12.16.2013 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show: We leftists do NOT wanna take away Christmas, much to your chagrin, Rush!

Bodie Hodge of Answers In Genesis, the group that runs the Creation Museum, recently authored a book about the “War on Christmas” and launched the “War On Christmas Insider Team” to help people defend the supposedly imperiled holiday.

Today, Hodge stopped by the American Family Association’s show Today’s Issues and chatted with AFA head Tim Wildmon and research director Ed Vitagliano about the mindset of supposed anti-Christmas agitators…which led him to argue that non-Christians shouldn’t even take any days off of work.

“If you thought about it, a secular, atheistic worldview, you know they don’t want Christmas,” Hodge said. “Well, why don’t they go up and say, ‘I want to work on Christmas and I don’t want time-and-a-half and I don’t want any of those holidays because that implies there is some God out there that’s holy that makes a day special. Consider a weekend. A weekend is a Christian thing, God created in the six days, he rested on the seventh, the Lord resurrected on the first day, that’s a Christian thing. These guys should say, ‘No, we should work all the time’ and work like the bees till you die.”

“They should have no days off, the whole concept of work and rest is a Christian thing,” he added. “Within their own worldview they have no basis for it, they have to borrow that from a Christian worldview, so they borrow it and they try to corrupt it.”

From the 12.12.2013 edition of AFR’s Today’s Issues:

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

wonkette:

Oklahoma Legislature Will Save Christmas From Whoever Keeps Doing War On Christmas
Don’t worry, Christians! The brave and smart members of the Oklahoma Legislature are working on saving the Sacred Baby Festival from all those pagans and liberals and secular humanists who are trying to ban Christmas forever, just like they made sure that no one can ever forget that the 10 Commandments exist. They’ve introduced two “Oklahoma Merry Christmas bills” that would protect Christmas, apparently in the belief that the scary bearded atheists in Chick tracts are real people, haw-haw.
The bills, HB2316 and HB 2317, would “permit school districts to display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations,” which seems like awfully non-Jesusy language for laws aiming to protect The Only Holiday That Matters (plus Hanukkah, according to the sponsors). Before you know it, some weirdo will sneak in Saturnalia or the Winter Solstice, and also too Oklahoma will be overrun with Druids.
READ MORE

wonkette:

Oklahoma Legislature Will Save Christmas From Whoever Keeps Doing War On Christmas

Don’t worry, Christians! The brave and smart members of the Oklahoma Legislature are working on saving the Sacred Baby Festival from all those pagans and liberals and secular humanists who are trying to ban Christmas forever, just like they made sure that no one can ever forget that the 10 Commandments exist. They’ve introduced two “Oklahoma Merry Christmas bills” that would protect Christmas, apparently in the belief that the scary bearded atheists in Chick tracts are real people, haw-haw.

The bills, HB2316 and HB 2317, would “permit school districts to display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations,” which seems like awfully non-Jesusy language for laws aiming to protect The Only Holiday That Matters (plus Hanukkah, according to the sponsors). Before you know it, some weirdo will sneak in Saturnalia or the Winter Solstice, and also too Oklahoma will be overrun with Druids.

READ MORE

Fox News host flips over atheist holiday display: ‘Baby Jesus is behind the Festivus pole!’ (via Raw Story )

Fox News host Gretchen Carlson on Tuesday lashed out at atheists in Florida for putting up a Festivus display next to a Christian display at the state Capitol building. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) office approved a request to install a Festivus…



 

Former half-term governor of Alaska and failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is worried “angry atheists” want to “abort Christ from Christmas.”

Speaking at Liberty University on Thursday, Palin addressed the “War on Christmas,” and the “angry atheists” out to ruin the holiday for everyone else. Palin invoked the words of Founders like Thomas Jefferson — who she said despite his writings on the separation of church and state — would be up in arms against people attempting to “abort Christ from Christmas.”

Palin said that Jefferson’s message has been grossly distorted by atheists attempting to use him for their own agenda, and argued that the nation’s third president would be on the side of Christians fighting to celebrate the holiday.

"Thomas Jefferson today, he would recognize those who would want to try to ignore that Jesus is the reason for the season, those who would want to try to abort Christ from Christmas. He would recognize, for the most part, these are angry atheists armed with an attorney. They are not the majority of Americans.”

She also complained that there is a double standard that somehow makes it okay for atheists to take offense at public displays of religion on government grounds, but religious people can’t get offended when they believe “their holiday” is being undermined. Palin concluded that people should follow Jefferson’s example and refuse to “sit down and shut up.”

How ironic is it that Palin chose Jefferson to use in her paranoid “War on Christmas” fantasy? In reality, Jefferson very clearly rejected the superstitions and mysticism of Christianity that Palin and other conservative Christians continue to embrace…including the notion of a virgin birth, the supposed “reason for the season.”

Delusional much, Sarah?

h/t: Diane Sweet at Crooks and Liars