Tag: First Amendment

Town official in N.J. quits over ‘Christmas’ tree lighting ceremony

Source: Cleveland.com/AP

Emphasis Mine

ROSELLE PARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey city council’s decision to add the word “Christmas” to the name of its tree-lighting ceremony prompted one council member to step down because it “turned it from a non-religious event to a religious one.”

Charlene Storey announced her decision just minutes after the Roselle Park council approved the change Thursday night, NJ.com reported. Her resignation takes effect Jan. 7.

Storey, who was raised Catholic but describes herself as a non-believer, said the town’s decision to change the ceremony’s name from “A Tree Lighting” to “A Christmas Tree Lightingfavors one religion and “cuts non-Christians out of the loop.”

Storey said she regretted having to resign but called the issue a matter of principle.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a mayor who is such,” Storey said in her resignation letter.

Roselle Park Mayor Carl Hokanson praised Storey for her work on the council. He said everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but also noted that each town can use whatever title it wants to use for the ceremony.

“It’s not a street, it’s not a building, it’s a Christmas tree,” Hokanson said.

(N.B.: Really?)

See: http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2015/12/town_official_in_nj_quits_over.html#incart_river_home

How Conservative Christians Are Trying Their Damnedest to Make America’s Kids Wildly Ignorant

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

One of the biggest obstacles for the conservative movement when it comes to recruiting new members is, to be frank, reality itself. History, science, economics are all fields noconstantly churning out information that makes right wing ideology look silly, nonsensical, and even delusional. In response, the conservative movement has launched a massive media campaign against reality that spreads out on Fox News, talk radio and the web, but despite all this, conservatives are not satisfied. The kids are who conservatives really want. That’s why the right is relentless with attempts to get into public schools, throw out actual information and replace it with their false and misleading ideology. Whether or not they’ll actually be successful in tricking kids into becoming conservatives is up for debate, but in the meantime, they are doing a lot of damage to childrens’ ability to get a decent education.

The latest battle in the ongoing war to turn public schools into propaganda machines for the right is being fought, where else, in the state of Texas. The state is often at the center of conservative-fomented education controversies, as right wingers there keep trying to sneak creationism into the science classroom. Texas also continues to maintain its abysmally high teen pregnancy rate by pushing sex “education” that usually doesn’t bother to mention contraception. While the right has been losing some ground on those two issues, a new report from the Texas Freedom Network suggests that conservatives have been able to inject a shocking number of lies and disinformation into public school history classrooms.

And while it may be tempting to think kids getting a subpar education is a red state only problem, in reality what happens to Texas affects the rest of the country, including blue states. Because of Texas’s size, what they want in textbooks often becomes the only thing that publishers are willing to offer. Your kid may be going to school in some other state, but what they’re reading in class may be decided by what some right wingers in Texas want to indoctrinate them into believing.

As the Washington Post reports, a group of 10 scholars in politics and history examined the proposed textbooks and found that they were stuffed full of lies and distortions, intended to trick students into believing right wing myths about government, racism, and whether or not America was supposed to be a “Christian nation”.

Dr. Emile Lester, a political science associate professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, was one of the reviewers. The State Board of Education and “these textbooks have collaborated to make students’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars,” he writes in his report.

Dr. Edward Countryman, a professor of history at Southern Methodist University who also worked on the report, concurred, accusing the State Board of creating textbook standards that have a “combination of incoherence, poor construction, and attempted indoctrination” in lieu of actual intent to educate students.

Digging into the textbooks themselves, it becomes clear that one major theme is trying to trick students into believing that America was founded as a Christian nation and that there’s no real separation of church and state, despite the fact that this idea is found in the first amendment to the constitution. One textbook claims, falsely, that “the biblical idea of covenant” is what the nation’s founders based their concept of democracy on, even though the Bible is full of kings and princes but makes no mention of democracy. (In reality, the founders based their idea of democracy on the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers.) Another book argued that the founders drew inspiration from Moses, on the grounds that Moses created the idea of a “written code of behavior”. Needless to say, the concept that nations need laws has existed in all civilizations throughout recorded history, and, as the Texas Freedom Network points out, the constitution’s guarantee of free exercise of religion comes in direct conflict with many of the 10 commandments that require you to believe in God.

As the Texas Freedom Network report points out, “the Founders were reacting against several of the crucial elements of the moral, legal, and political tradition associated with Moses and the Ten Commandments.” That’s stating the case gently, as Moses explicitly set out to create a theocracy, whereas Thomas Jefferson argued that there should be a “wall of separation between church and state”.  The fact of the matter is that these books are lying, bald-facedly, about the history of this country for the purpose of hoodwinking students into believing that ours is not a secular county and that it’s okay for the government to force Christian rituals and beliefs on the citizenry.

The attempts to indoctrinate children into the belief that America is basically a Christian theocracy are bad enough, but that’s not the only conservative agenda item that the books are trying to trick students into buying. The books also try to subtly discredit the civil rights movement by implying that segregation wasn’t so bad, with one book arguing that white and black schools had “similar buildings, buses, and teachers”, which the researchers argue “severely understates the tremendous and widespread disadvantages of African-American schools”.

Researchers also found that the books were playing the role of propagandist for unregulated capitalism. One textbook argues that taxes have gone up since 1927, but society “does not appear to be much more civilized today than it was” back then. It’s an assertion that ignores the much reduced poverty and sickness, the improved education, and even things like the federal highway system, all to make an ideological point. Another book argues that any government regulation whatsoever somehow means that capitalism ceases to be capitalism, a stance that would mean that capitalism has never really existed in all of history.

That these books are stuffed full of lies and propaganda is sadly not a surprise. From the get-go, the State Board of Education made it clear they were far more interested in pushing a right wing ideology on students than actually providing an education. In July, the Texas Freedom Network reviewed the 140 people selected to be on the panels reviewing textbooks. Being an actual expert in politics or history practically guaranteed you couldn’t get a slot, as “more than a dozen” Texas academics with expertise who applied got denied, while conservative “political activists and individuals without social studies degrees or teaching experience got places on the panels”.  Only 3 of the 140 members of the panel are even current faculty members at Texas universities, but a pastor who used to own a car dealership somehow got a spot.

Textbooks should provide information instead of a bunch of right wing propaganda based on lies, but such is the stranglehold on power that Republicans have in the state of Texas that they can flaunt their desire to indoctrinate your children without much worry that the voters will kick them out over it.

See: http://www.alternet.org/education/how-conservative-christians-are-trying-their-damnedest-make-americas-kids-wildly-ignorant?akid=12260.123424.NpAYiT&rd=1&src=newsletter1019767&t=2

5 Things the Religious Right Needs to Learn About the 10 Commandments

Source: AlterNet

Author: Robert Boston

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: The first four commandments are contrary to the religious freedom and free expression clauses in the First Amendment.)

Anyone who spends time around members of the Religious Right quickly realizes that they have a serious crush on the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are found in the Old Testament and are closely identified with the history of Judaism. But in recent years, they’ve been adopted by right-wing fundamentalist Christians eager to prove that the United States has religious underpinnings and wasn’t founded to be a secular nation.

This far-right obsession with the Commandments has legal and political ramifications because fundamentalists often try to display the Commandments at seats of government.

Federal courts ruled recently on the legality of Ten Commandments displays on public property in North Dakota and New Mexico—reaching opposite conclusions. And in Alabama, Jackson County Commissioner Tim Guffey wants to display the Ten Commandments at the county courthouse. Guffey told local media that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “all stemmed from the word of God, from the Ten Commandments.”

Guffey’s argument is a common one: It’s OK to display the Ten Commandments at a courthouse, city hall or the state capitol because U.S. law is based on them. Thus, a government-sponsored Ten Commandments display isn’t really religious. It just makes a statement about the origins of our law.

But there’s one gaping flaw with this argument: American law is not based on the Ten Commandments. Here are five reasons why.

1. The Ten Commandments don’t provide a coherent system of governance. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to base a government solely on the Ten Commandments for the simple reason that they are not a governance document. Nor could the Ten Commandments have influenced the Constitution, the foundation of American law, because the two documents serve very different purposes.

The Ten Commandments make up a moral code designed to punish certain behaviors deemed offensive to the God of the Old Testament. They say nothing about a government or how one is to be structured.

The Constitution, by contrast, is a governance document that spells out, in detail, how a representative democracy is supposed to work. A wholly secular document, the Constitution does not attempt to establish a system of religious laws. On the contrary, its First Amendment guarantees religious freedom for all (Christians and non-Christians) and bars all laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”

2. Nothing in the Constitution makes it illegal to break religious laws. The Ten Commandments are very clear on certain religious matters: There is one God. You owe him your allegiance and you’re not to put other gods before him. You are not to take his name in vain or desecrate the Sabbath. Take care to honor your parents.

If the Constitution were based on the Ten Commandments, we would see some reflection of these religious precepts in that document. We don’t. In fact, the Constitution cuts the other way. Its freedom-of-religion provision grants everyone the right to worship, as Thomas Jefferson put it, 20 gods or no god. Nothing in the Constitution accords God or the Sabbath special treatment. In fact, they aren’t even mentioned. Furthermore, Article VI mandates that there be “no religious test” for federal office. That is, people can’t be required to hold certain religious beliefs as a condition of holding public office. Language like this opens the door for everyone to participate fully in political life, no matter what he or she may believe about religion. It’s curious language for a document based on the Ten Commandments.

3. The Religious Right’s main argument is based on a phony quote by James Madison. Virginian James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.” Madison was the primary author of the Constitution and worked tirelessly to see it adopted. A decade later, he helped draft the Bill of Rights.

Madison was an advocate for religious freedom and the total separation of the church from the state. It’s inconceivable that Madison would have advocated for a theocratic society based on the Ten Commandments.

Yet some Religious Right advocates argue that Madison favored this. Furthermore, they claim that he once said, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

There are variations of this quote. All are false. Madison never said this. Back in 1993, the curators of the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia were asked if they could verify this quote. They could not.

“We did not find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent us,” curators John Stagg and David Mattern wrote. “In addition, the idea is inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government, views which he expressed time and time again in public and in private.”

Although this quote was debunked years ago, it still makes the rounds on Religious Right website. As recently as last year, the Family Research Council used it to promote a conference.

4. Historians have listed the real sources that inspired the Constitution.If the Ten Commandments had inspired the founders, we would see evidence of that in the founders’ writings and speeches. It isn’t there.

Furthermore, the sources that did inspire them are no secret. About 10 years ago, church-state separation activists were fighting Roy Moore, Alabama’s infamous “Ten Commandments judge,” over his decision to display the Commandments at a state judicial building in Montgomery. Moore’s legal strategy hinged in  large part on his assertion that the Ten Commandments were the font of all U.S. law.

That tactic imploded when 41 law professors and legal historians filed a brief that left Moore’s claim in tatters. The historians examined the debates and written records of the founding period and uncovered no significant references to the Ten Commandments.

The brief noted that “various documents and texts” figured in the development of American law, among them English common and statutory law, Roman law, the civil law of continental Europe and private international law. They also found numerous references to the writings of William Blackstone, John Locke, Adam Smith and others as well as the Magna Carta, the Federalist Papers and other sources.

Observed the scholars, “While the Ten Commandments have influenced some of our notions of right and wrong, a wide variety of other documents have played a more dominant and central role in the development of American law. No respected scholar of legal or constitutional history would assert that the Ten Commandments have played a dominant or major role, or even a significant role, in the development of American law as a whole. To insist on a closer relationship or to claim the Ten Command­ments has a special place in the development of American law lacks historical support.”

Not surprisingly, Moore lost in court.

5. Many of the precepts found in the Ten Commandments are common-sense rules that have existed for centuries.Some Religious Right leaders fall back on the argument that, while the Constitution may not explicitly recognize the Ten Commandments, American common and statutory law surely does. After all, our laws say it’s wrong to kill, lie and steal – just like the Ten Commandments!

The argument fails a simple historical analysis. Activities like murder, theft and lying are detrimental to all societies. If these actions aren’t punished, they make it nearly impossible for people to live together in peace. Thus, they are always banned. Other ancient lists of laws, such as the Code of Hammurabi (which is older than the Ten Commandments), proscribe these actions as well.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court gives a nod to this fact. In the court’s main chamber, a frieze along the wall depicts historic lawgivers from many different eras. Moses is depicted carrying two tablets, but he’s not alone. Many other lawgivers from the ancient world, including Hammurabi, Solomon, Solon, Confucius and others, are there too.

Veneration of the Ten Commandments as the font of all wisdom and the source of all laws is a modern-day affectation of the Religious Right. It doesn’t go back to the founding period.

So when did it start? The origins may surprise you. If you root around public parks in many American cities, you just might come across a weathered granite monument listing the Ten Commandments. It may be covered with vegetation and forgotten, but there it is. Why is it there? Where did it come from?

There’s a good chance it was donated to the town by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the 1950s as part of a publicity stunt to promote Cecile B. DeMille’s 1956 epic “The Ten Commandments.”

In the early 1940s, a juvenile court judge in Minnesota named E.J. Ruegemer got it into his head that exposing youngsters to the Ten Commandments would fend off delinquency. Ruegemer was a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and lobbied the group to push for posting paper copies of the Ten Commandments in juvenile courts.

A few years later, DeMille learned of the project and adopted it to promote his film – with a twist. He worked with Ruegemer to produce larger monuments made of granite, and the Eagles were soon donating Ten Commandments markers to communities all over America. About 2,000 were placed before the campaign ended. In some cases, stars from the movie dedicated the monuments.

Thus, the attempt to link the Ten Commandments to the U.S. government does have founders. But they aren’t men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Rather, the craze can be traced to more recent times and laid at the feet of Cecile B. DeMille, Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.

Rob Boston is director of communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. His latest book is “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do.”

See: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/5-things-religious-right-needs-learn-about-10-commandments?akid=12232.123424.co8qyq&rd=1&src=newsletter1018845&t=6

Right-Wing Religion’s War on America

From: Church and State Magazine

By: Rob Boston

“From a posh residence in the heart of New York City that has been described as a “mini-mansion,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan is perhaps the most visible representative of an American church empire of 60 million adherents and vast financial holdings.

Dolan and his fellow clergy move easily through the corridors of political power, courted by big-city mayors, governors and even presidents. In the halls of Congress, they are treated with a deference no secular lobbyist can match.

From humble origins in America, the church has risen to lofty heights marked by affluence, political influence and social respect. Yet, according to church officials, they are being increasingly persecuted, and their rights are under sustained attack.

The refrain has become commonplace: There is a “war on religion.” Faith is under assault. The administration of President Barack Obama has unleashed a bombardment on religion unlike anything ever seen.

The average American would be hard-pressed to see evidence of this “war.” Millions of people meet regularly in houses of worship. What’s more, those institutions are tax exempt. Many denominations participate in taxpayer-funded social service programs. Their clergy regularly speak out on the issues of the day. In the political arena, religious leaders are treated with great respect.

Furthermore, religious organizations often get special breaks that aren’t accorded to their secular counterparts. Houses of worship aren’t required to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service. They don’t have to apply for tax-exempt status; they receive it automatically as soon as they form. Religious entities are routinely exempted from employment laws, anti-discrimination measures and even routine health and safety inspections.

Unlike secular lobbies, religious groups that work with legislators on Capitol Hill don’t have to register with the federal government and are free from the stringent reporting requirements imposed on any group that seeks to influence legislation.

Religion in America would seem to be thriving in this “hands-off” atmosphere, as evidenced by church attendance rates, which in the United States tend to be higher than any other Western nation. So where springs this “war on religion” talk?

Twin dynamics, mutually related and interdependent, are likely at work. On one hand, some religious groups are upping their demands for even more exemptions from general laws. When these are not always extended, leaders of these groups scream about hostility toward religion and say they are being discriminated against. This catches the attention of right-wing political leaders, who toss gasoline on the rhetorical fires.

A textbook example of this occurred during the recent flap over coverage of contraceptives under the new health care reform. The law seeks to ensure a baseline of coverage for all Americans, and birth control is included. Insurance firms that contract with companies must make it available with no co-pays.

Houses of worship are exempt from this requirement. But religiously affiliated organizations, such as church-run hospitals, colleges and social service agencies, are dealt with differently. The insurance companies that serve them must make contraceptives available to the employees of these entities, but the religious agencies don’t have to pay for them directly.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) attacked this policy and insisted that it violates the church’s right of conscience. Furthermore, the hierarchy insisted that all private employers should also have the right to deny any medical coverage that conflicts with their beliefs – no matter what the religious views of their employees.

The issue quickly became mired in partisan politics. Claims of a “war on religion” expand on long-held Religious Right seasonal claims of an alleged “war on Christmas.” The assertions of yuletide hostility paid great dividends to the Religious Right. They boosted groups’ fund-raising efforts and motivated some activists to get involved in politics.

Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy are hoping for a similar payoff through their claims of a war on religion.

With the economy improving, Republicans may be on the verge of losing a powerful piece of ammunition to use against Obama. The party’s Religious Right faction is eager to push social issues to the front and center as a way of mobilizing the base.

Many political leaders are happy to parrot this line. For the time being, they’ve latched on to the birth control issue as their leading example of this alleged war.

To hear these right-wing politicians tell it, asking a religiously affiliated institution that is heavily subsidized with taxpayer funds to allow an insurance company to provide birth control to those who want it is a great violation of “religious liberty.”

In mid February, House members went so far as to hold a hearing on the matter before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, stacking it with a bevy of religious leaders who oppose the rule on contraceptives. Among them was Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who heads up a new Catholic lobbying effort on this and other social issues.

Americans United submitted testimony to the committee, but Republicans on the panel denied the Democrats’ request to hear testimony from Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown Law School who supports the contraceptive mandate, thus leaving the panel stacked with religious figures – mostly men – who are hostile to contraceptives. (See “No Fluke,” April 2012 Church & State.)

The idea was to create the impression that the religious community – and by extension the American public – is up in arms over the regulation. In fact, the religious figures who spoke at the event were from ultra-conservative traditions that represent just one segment of religion in America. Many religious leaders and denominations support access to contraceptives, and several polls have shown support for the Obama administration’s position hovering at around 65 percent. (Polls also show that many American Catholics disagree with the church hierarchy on this issue.)

This isn’t surprising in a country where use of contraceptives is widespread. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 98 percent of women who engage in sexual activity will use at least one artificial form of birth control at some point in their lives.

Contraceptives are also often prescribed for medical reasons, such as shrinking ovarian cysts or relieving menstrual pain. Americans respect religious liberty, but most believe it can be maintained while safeguarding access to needed medications.

Most Americans, in fact, understand the need to balance rights. Religious organizations have the right to believe and preach what they want, but their ability to rely on government to help them spread these views is necessarily limited.

In addition, valid social goals can override an overly broad definition of religious liberty. In some states, fundamentalist Christian parents have been ordered by courts to take their children to doctors. The theory is that a child’s right to live free of sickness and disease outweighs the parents’ religious liberty concerns.

In addition, religious liberty has not traditionally been construed as license to trample on the rights of others.

“People who cry moral indignation about government-mandated contraception coverage appear unwilling to concede that the exercise of their deeply held convictions might infringe on the rights of millions of people who are burdened by unplanned pregnancy or want to reduce abortion or would like to see their tax dollars committed to a different purpose,” wrote Erika Christakis, an early childhood educator and administrator at Harvard College, on a Time magazine blog recently.

The courts have long recognized this need to balance rights. In the late 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down plural marriage, which was then practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormon practice, the court held, was disruptive to society and had no roots in Western tradition; thus it could be banned.

In the modern era, the court devised a test whereby government could restrict religious liberty if it could demonstrate a “compelling state interest” and that it had employed the “least restrictive means” to meets its goals.

That standard was tightened even further in 1990, when the Supreme Court handed down a decision in a case known as Employment Division v. Smith. The decision, written by arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, held that government has no obligation to exempt religious entities from “neutral” laws that are “generally applicable.”

Since then, many religious groups have turned to the political process to win exemptions from the law. Generally speaking, they’ve been very successful. In a ground-breaking 2006 New York Times series, the newspaper chronicled the various exemptions from the law granted to religious organizations covering areas like immigration, land use, employment regulations, safety inspections and others.

The Times reported that since 1989, “more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents were tucked into Congressional legislation….” The paper noted that other breaks “have also been provided by a host of pivotal court decisions at the state and federal level, and by numerous rule changes in almost every department and agency of the executive branch.”

But religious groups, like any other special interest, don’t get everything they want. On occasions when they’ve failed, some religious organizations have been quick to complain that discrimination or a hostility toward religion did them in. In fact, political leaders might have simply concluded that certain demands of religious groups are not in the best interests of larger society.

Is there any evidence that Obama is stingier with exemptions than past administrations or that the president has it in for religious groups? Not really.

Under Obama, the “faith-based” initiative, an idea that goes back to the days of George W. Bush, has continued to flourish. Obama even stepped back from a vow he made while campaigning in 2008 to require religious groups that receive support from the taxpayer to drop discriminatory hiring policies.

Mother Jones magazine reported in February that if Obama is hostile to religion, he has an odd way of showing it.

“But all the outrage about religious freedom has overshadowed a basic truth about the Obama administration: When it comes to religious organizations and their treatment by the federal government, the Obama administration has been extremely generous,” reported Stephanie Mencimer for the magazine. “Religious groups have benefited handsomely from Obama’s stimulus package, budgets, and other policies. Under Obama, Catholic religious charities alone have received more than $650 million, according to a spokeswoman from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where much of the funding comes from.”

Obama’s Justice Department hasn’t always pleased religious conservatives, but it has hardly been hostile to faith. The department sided with the state of Arizona in defending at the Supreme Court a private school tax-credit scheme that overwhelmingly benefits religious schools, going so far as to assist with oral arguments before the justices. When a federal court struck down the National Day of Prayer as a church-state violation in 2010, the administration criticized the ruling and quickly filed an appeal.

“If Obama is ‘warring’ against religion, he’s doing it with a popgun and a rubber knife,” Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, told The Washington Times recently. “On core religious freedom issues, they have been moderate, to a fault…. It’s not much of a war.”

Other observers note that in a nation where the government’s regulatory touch over religiously affiliated institutions is exceedingly light, it’s hard to take claims of a war on religion seriously.

People who claim the government is hostile to religion are either insincere or uninformed,” said Steven K. Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy at Willamette University. “Religious entities enjoy a host of benefits and advantages that their non-religous counterparts lack.

Green, who was legal director at Americans United during the 1990’s, added, “At the same time, many religious entities that enjoy exemptions from neutral regulations receive subsidies from the government for their operations. Rather than there being a ‘war on religion,’ the government surrendered its regulatory forces a long time ago.”

Rob Boston is senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Rob, who has worked at Americans United since 1987, also serves as assistant editor of AU’s “Church & State” magazine. Rob is the author of three books: “Close Encounters with the Religious Right: Journeys into the Twilight Zone of Religion and Politics” (Prometheus Books, 2000); “The Most Dangerous Man in America? Pat Robertson and the Rise of the Christian Coalition” (Prometheus Books, 1996) and “Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State” (Prometheus Books, 1993; second edition, 2003).

Emphasis mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/154929/right-wing_religion%27s_war_on_america?akid=8589.123424.Ne4e-e&rd=1&t=5

War on xmas?

In his nation, we don’t have a War on xmas – we have a War on the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The free expression clause of the first amendment gives us the right to practice or not practice any religion, even one practiced by the majority; respect for individuality and diversity means everyone should stay within their boundaries and not attempt to force their views on others.

“In the United States, religion is not a majoritarian issue” – Federal judge John E. Jones III ( A conservative Republican and GW Bush appointee, who made the decision in the Dover PA intelligent design case.)

N.B.: Occupiers might note the assemble clause, and those who wish to establish a theocracy might note the establishment clause.

N.B.: my use of ‘xmas’ as opposed to ‘christmas’ is both my first amendment right, and intentionally contrarian.

no-birth-control-part-II-Romney-wants-to-eliminate-title-X

From:care2

“Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has recently come out in favor of “Personhood,” the idea of granting full legal rights to fertilized eggs, a plan that would not only eliminate abortion but could outlaw most forms of contraception, too.

But that’s not Romney’s only attack on birth control.  Numerous presidential candidates agreed to sign the Susan B. Anthony pledge, one of the platforms of which was to agree to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest birth control and reproductive health provider.

Romney did not sign the pledge.  However, now he’s going even further than the anti-choice group itself has tried to reach.

He wants to eliminate Title X funding all together.

As Sarah Kliff explains: “Created in 1970 during the Nixon years, Title X covers reproductive health services like birth control, STD screenings, and cervical-cancer exams. In 2008, the program reached about 5 million Americans, mostly women. While the program does provide funds to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, federal law bars the program from covering abortion procedures.”

Romney’s plan to eliminate federal funding for all family planning services can be seen by fiscal conservatives as a sign that he is ready to take a hard line on budget cutting, and sends a subtle message to the social conservatives so wary of him that he can be the champion for ending abortion, and even support for birth control.

The House Republicans desperately tried to eliminate funding in the first government shutdown battle.  It was only the president’s refusal to allow that to occur that saved the program.  If that president were Mitt Romney, that would be a very different story.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.care2.com/causes/no-birth-control-part-ii-romney-wants-to-eliminate-title-x.html

How Christian Fundamentalism Helped Empower the Top 1% to Exploit the 99%

From AlterNet, by Frank Schaeffer

N.B.: Separation of Church and State!

“As the Occupy Wall street movement spreads across the country and the world, we must bring attention to the enablers of the top 1 percent exploiting the 99. Fundamentalist religion made this exploitation possible.

Evangelical fundamentalism helped empower the top 1 percent. Note I didn’t say religion per se, but religious fundamentalism.
Why? Because without the fundamentalists and their “values” issues, many in the lower 99 percent could not have been convinced to vote against their (our) economic self-interest; in other words, vote for Republicans who only serve billionaires.
Wall Street is a great target for long-overdue protest, but so are the centers of religious power that are the gatekeepers of Republican Party “values” voters that make the continuing economic exploitation possible.
Fundamentalist religion –– evangelical and Roman Catholic alike — has delegitimized the US government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.

The fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice with a bogus (and hate-driven) “morality” litmus tests of spurious red herring “issues” from abortion to school prayer and gay rights. The result has been that the masses of lower middle-class and poor Americans who should be voting for Democrats and thus their own economic interests, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self interest.
This trick of political sleight of hand has been achieved by this process:
  • Declare the US government agents of evil because “the government” has allowed legal abortion, gay rights, etc.
  • Declare that therefore “government is the problem,” not the solution.
  • The government is the source of all evil www.amazon.com/Sex-Mom-God-Strange-Politics/dp/0306819287/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0, thus anyone the government wants to regulate is being picked on by satanic forces. The US government is always the bad guy.
  • Good, God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because “the government” is evil.
  • So unregulated corporations, banks and Wall Street are always right and represent “freedom” while government is always wrong and represents “tyranny.”
Like most evangelical/Roman Catholic fundamentalist movements in history, from the Bay State colonies to the Spanish Inquisition, the American Religious Right of today advocates the fusion of state power and religion through the reestablishment of the “Christian America” idea of “American Exceptionalism” (i.e., a nation “chosen” by God), the form of government adopted by the Puritans’ successors during the age of early American colonialism.
Thus the division between “real Americans” and the rest of us is the “saved” and “lost” paradigm of theological correctness applied to politics. Thus President Obama isn’t a real American, or even a born American, he’s “Other,” a Muslim, an outsider, and above all not “one of us.”
In other words you’re not just wrong, but evil if you disagree with the Elect over abortion, or for that matter peace in the Middle East because you’re “not supporting Israel.”
“Bring America back to the Bible” is really no more subtle than the claim of the Iranian Mullahs to rule in “God’s name” so that Iran too can come back to God. And if you can get Americans to worry about the Bible and not fairness and justice, then you have handed a perpetual victory to Goldman Sachs and company.
How Did We Get Here?

The unstated agreement went like this: Republicans will pander to the Religious Right on the social issues — abortion, gay rights, prayer in schools, creationism in textbooks, and not so subtly the endorsement of religious schools to help white evangelicals and Roman Catholics avoid integration — as long as the Religious Right turned a blind eye to the fact that the Republican Party would sell the soul of the country to corporate America, a country-within-a-country where 1 percent of the population have more wealth than the 99 percent.
Deference to religion masquerading as politics must end, now.
 
Religion masquerading as politics is not true religion or politics– it is a theocracy-in-waiting. This charade of power grabs in God’s name needs to be exposed, and destroyed.
Democracy will not survive the continuing dirty combination of theocracy and oligarchy. That’s where we’re headed: bankers running the world backed by preachers who don’t care about God but care about power.
The timely destruction of the economic elites and their religious facilitators begins by calling fundamentalist/evangelical/Roman Catholic “religion” what it is: a political grab for power based on literal madness of the sort that makes many terrified of modernity, truth, science and facts and leads them to deny evolution and global warming while believing that Jesus will come back any day now.
To the post-Roe Religious Right, hating America became the new patriotism. If it had not been for the evangelicals demonizing the federal government over abortion and gay rights (as they did before over civil rights) how else would the economic oligarchy have gotten away with making the underclass vote against their own interests?
‘I’m Pro-Life and I Vote’ Bumpersticker Says It All

The evangelical Right helped stall the Obama presidency. And they are only getting going, as their 87 Tea Party congressional freshmen proved by being willing to plunge the US economy over a cliff in order to satisfy their hunger to clip the wings of the “evil” US government and render it useless.
When my late evangelical father and I were running around back in the 1970s and ’80s signing up Republican leaders like Ronald Reagan to “take a stand on abortion” we were outsiders and agitators. Today, the agitators are now actually running the heart of the Republican Party. Some of the most extreme of their number — Perry and Bachmann — are actually running for president.

That’s why no one was surprised that Rick Perry kicked off his presidential race with a prayer meeting surrounded by extremist bigots from the far, far evangelical right.
Protest Churches and Religious Organizations, Along With Wall Street
Fundamentalist religion of all kinds is the enemy of democracy and thus of America. It is also the enemy of working people everywhere, when its bogus moral crusades empower the rich to thumb their noses at our government.
Fundamentalist religion here and around the world must be stopped in its anti-fact, anti-progress crusade. The alternative is chaos, decline, oligarchy and theocracy.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/152724/how_christian_fundamentalism_helped_empower_the_top_1_to_exploit_the_99?akid=7719.123424._z7XFi&rd=1&t=5

Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

Richard Dawkins

Q. Texas governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry, at a campaign event this week, told a boy that evolution is ”just a theory” with “gaps” and that in Texas they teach “both creationism and evolution.” Perry later added “God is how we got here.” According to a 2009 Gallup study , only 38 percent of Americans say they believe in evolution. If a majority of Americans are skeptical or unsure about evolution, should schools teach it as a mere “theory”? Why is evolution so threatening to religion?

A. There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

Any other organization — a big corporation, say, or a university, or a learned society – -when seeking a new leader, will go to immense trouble over the choice. The CVs of candidates and their portfolios of relevant experience are meticulously scrutinized, their publications are read by a learned committee, references are taken up and scrupulously discussed, the candidates are subjected to rigorous interviews and vetting procedures. Mistakes are still made, but not through lack of serious effort.

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

Darwin’s idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind. The power of a scientific theory may be measured as a ratio: the number of facts that it explains divided by the number of assumptions it needs to postulate in order to do the explaining. A theory that assumes most of what it is trying to explain is a bad theory. That is why the creationist or ‘intelligent design’ theory is such a rotten theory.

What any theory of life needs to explain is functional complexity. Complexity can be measured as statistical improbability, and living things are statistically improbable in a very particular direction: the direction of functional efficiency. The body of a bird is not just a prodigiously complicated machine, with its trillions of cells – each one in itself a marvel of miniaturized complexity – all conspiring together to make muscle or bone, kidney or brain. Its interlocking parts also conspire to make it good for something – in the case of most birds, good for flying. An aero-engineer is struck dumb with admiration for the bird as flying machine: its feathered flight-surfaces and ailerons sensitively adjusted in real time by the on-board computer which is the brain; the breast muscles, which are the engines, the ligaments, tendons and lightweight bony struts all exactly suited to the task. And the whole machine is immensely improbable in the sense that, if you randomly shook up the parts over and over again, never in a million years would they fall into the right shape to fly like a swallow, soar like a vulture, or ride the oceanic up-draughts like a wandering albatross. Any theory of life has to explain how the laws of physics can give rise to a complex flying machine like a bird or a bat or a pterosaur, a complex swimming machine like a tarpon or a dolphin, a complex burrowing machine like a mole, a complex climbing machine like a monkey, or a complex thinking machine like a person.

Darwin explained all of this with one brilliantly simple idea – natural selection, driving gradual evolution over immensities of geological time. His is a good theory because of the huge ratio of what it explains (all the complexity of life) divided by what it needs to assume (simply the nonrandom survival of hereditary information through many generations). The rival theory to explain the functional complexity of life – creationism – is about as bad a theory as has ever been proposed. What it postulates (an intelligent designer) is even more complex, even more statistically improbable than what it explains. In fact it is such a bad theory it doesn’t deserve to be called a theory at all, and it certainly doesn’t deserve to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

The simplicity of Darwin’s idea, then, is a virtue for three reasons. First, and most important, it is the signature of its immense power as a theory, when compared with the mass of disparate facts that it explains – everything about life including our own existence. Second, it makes it easy for children to understand (in addition to the obvious virtue of being true!), which means that it could be taught in the early years of school. And finally, it makes it extremely beautiful, one of the most beautiful ideas anyone ever had as well as arguably the most powerful. To die in ignorance of its elegance, and power to explain our own existence, is a tragic loss, comparable to dying without ever having experienced great music, great literature, or a beautiful sunset.

There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.

Richard Dawkins wrote this response to Governor Perry forOn Faith, the Washington Post’s forum for news and opinion on religion and politics.

More On Faith and evolution:

Panel debate: On evolution, can religion evolve?

Under God: Perry says evolution a ‘theory’ with ‘gaps’

RICHARD DAWKINS  | AUG 23, 2011 7:25 AM”

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/attention-governor-perry-evolution-is-a-fact/2011/08/23/gIQAuIFUYJ_blog.html

Atheists, Muslims More Popular Than Tea Party (Also, Tea Party’s Just a New Name for Racist Christian Right)

From Alternet, by  Sarah Seltzer

“The results of a comprehensive New York Times polling project (document link here) offer some good news to that end. The results show that public opinion is trending away from Tea. They also dispel some big myths about the Tea Party being economic in nature rather than what it actually is: a re-branded, repurposed version of the same old Christian Right. This may seem familiar to AlterNet readers–but still, it’s good to have the numbers and the mainstream attention to highlight such a crucial truth.

Here’s the juiciest nugget from professors David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam in the Times, one which encapsulates the Tea Party’s growing unpopularity with a vivid comparison or two (emphases mine):

Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress, highlighting the above results, also notes that these unpopularity numbers for the Tea Party have skyrocketed over the past year or so.

The professors, who have conducted a wide-ranging survey of interviews over time, go on to shatter the big canard of the Tea Party’s “creation myth” and image in the mainstream media, pointing to data collected before and after the birth of the “Tea Party” to back up their claims. The results, below:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics.

Andrew Sullivan writes about how pivotal this numerical information is: “Now we have some large data sets to review the reality. And the reality is that the Tea Party is the Christianist right-wing of the GOP.” First-person evidence leads to the same place.  Abe Sauer at The Awl draws the exact the same conclusion as Sullivan and the Times data after two years hanging out in a more social sense with the Tea Party, to which he initially felt sympathetic:  “Two years of Tea Party functions later, and I finally know what the Tea Party wants: A Christian nation.”

Again,  “The Tea Party is about small government” is a myth that progressives have emphatically been pointing to as untrue, and the long line of conservative social legislation that’s been passed by states controlled by Tea Party blocs suggests the same.

Adele Stan here at AlterNet and our colleagues like Sarah Posner and others have been hammering home this fact for a long time, but really it’s good to see that the MSM is catching up, and that apparently, so is the majority of the country. This is a message that needs to be repeated until it sinks in. The Tea Party is nothing new. Same problem, new name.

Now, if only this information meant that politicians could ignore this bloc, that the Tea Party didn’t retain its ability to hold our government hostage. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/rss/1/651861/atheists%2C_muslims_more_popular_than_tea_party_%28also%2C_tea_party%27s_just_a_new_name_for_racist_christian_right%29?akid=7419.123424.qJ7Z66&rd=1&t=18

Meet the Christian Dominionist ‘Prayer Warriors’ Who Have Chosen Rick Perry as Their Vehicle to Power

from AlterNet, by Rachel Tabachnick

“Since he announced his candidacy on Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry has been hailed as the great GOP hope of 2012. Perry’s entry into the chaotic Republican primary race has excited the establishment in part because he does not have Michele Bachmann’s reputation for religious zealotry, yet can likely count on the support of the Religious Right.

Another advantage for Perry is support from an extensive 50-state “prayer warrior” network, organized by the New Apostolic Reformation. A religious-political movement whose leaders call themselves apostles and prophets, NAR shares its agenda for control of society and government with other “dominionists,” but has a distinctly different theology than other groups in the Religious Right. They have their roots in Pentecostalism (though their theology has been denounced as a heresy by Pentecostal denominations in the past). The movement is controversial, even inside conservative evangelical circles. Nevertheless, Perry took the gamble that NAR could help him win the primaries, a testament to the power of the apostles’ 50-state prayer warrior network.
While it may not have been obvious to those outside the movement, Perry was publicly anointed as the apostles’ candidate for president in his massive prayer rally a few weeks ago, an event filled with symbolism and coded messages. This was live-streamed to churches across the nation and on God TV, a Jerusalem-based evangelical network.
There’s little doubt that Perry is NAR’s candidate — its chosen vehicle to advance the stated agenda of taking “dominion” over earthly institutions.
The Prayer Warriors and Politics
Perry’s event is not the first time NAR apostles have partnered with politicians. (See previous AlterNet articles by Paul Rosenberg and Bill Berkowitz.) Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier claimed Sarah Palin was in her prayer network since she was 24 years old and Glazier continued to have contact with Palin through the 2008 election. Prior to running for governor, Palin was “anointed” at Wasilla Assembly of God by Kenyan Apostle Thomas Muthee, a star in promotional media for the movement. The Wasilla congregation is part of a Pentecostal denomination, but it’s leadership had embraced NAR’s controversial ideology years before and has hosted many internationally known apostles.
A partial list of those who have made nationally or internationally broadcast appearances with apostles includes Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, and Jim DeMint. Numerous others, including Rick Santorum, have participated in less publicized apostle-led events.
The list of state and local candidates partnering with the apostles’ network includes Hawaii gubernatorial candidates James “Duke” Aiona, a Republican, and Mufi Hannemann, a Democrat. The conference call that got U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris in hot water with Jewish voters back in 2006, was led by Apostle Ken Malone, head of the Florida prayer warrior network.  Apostle Kimberly Daniels recently won a seat on the Jacksonville, Florida city council — as a Democrat.
Why would Rick Perry take the risk of partnering with such a controversial movement? The apostles’ statewide “prayer warrior” networks link people and ministries online and also includes conferences, events, and training. Many of the ministries involved have extensive media capabilities.  The “prophets” of the NAR claim to be continuously receiving direct revelation from God and these messages and visions are broadcast to the prayer warriors through various media outlets. For instance, in the 2008 election, prophesies concerning Sarah Palin, including one from Mary Glazier, were sent out to the prayer warrior networks. Palin repeatedly thanked her prayer warriors during and after the election.

The prayer warrior networks could work as an additional arm for Perry’s campaign in early primary states. South Carolina’s network is led by Frank Seignious, a former episcopal priest who joined the movement and was ordained into “apostolic ministry” by Apostle Chuck Pierce of Texas. Seignious has incorporated the spiritual warfare and prayer network under the name Taking the Land. His network is under the “apostolic authority” of  the Reformation Prayer Alliance of Apostle Cindy Jacobs and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network, led by Apostle John Benefiel. Both Jacobs and Benefiel endorsed Rick Perry’s prayer event.

Jacobs announced in March that the movement hopes to mobilize 500,000 prayer warriors or intercessors to “prayer for the nation for the 2012 elections to shift this  nation into righteousness and justice.” She made this statement while speaking at Alaska’s Wasilla Assembly of God, the church where Sarah Palin was anointed by Thomas Muthee in 2005.
Ideology of the New Apostolic Reformation
The leaders of the movement claim this is the most significant change in Protestantism since Martin Luther and the Reformation. NAR’s stated goal is to eradicate denominations and to form a single unified church that will fight and be victorious against “evil” in the end times. Like many American fundamentalists, the apostles teach that the end times are imminent, but unlike most fundamentalists, the apostles see this as a time of great triumph for the church.
Instead of escaping to heaven in the Rapture prior to the battles of the end times, the apostles teach that believers will remain on earth. And instead of watching from the grandstands of heaven as Jesus and his warriors destroy evil, the apostles believe they and their followers will fight and purge the earth of evil themselves.
This includes taking “dominion” over all sectors of society and government, which, in turn, will lead to a “Kingdom” on earth, a Christian utopia ruled from Jerusalem.  The end times narrative of the apostles is similar to that of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s and 1950s, which was considered heretical by traditional Pentecostal denominations.
Prerequisites to bringing about the Kingdom on earth are: the restructuring of all Charismatic evangelical believers under the authority of their network of apostles and prophets; the eradication or unification of Christian denominations; and the total elimination of competing religions and philosophies. Their mandate to take control over institutions of society and government is similar to the dominionism of Christian Reconstructionism, founded by the late Rousas Rushdoony, but NAR’s version has been wrapped in a much more appealing package and marketed as activism to “transform” communities.
The apostles have a number of sophisticated promotional tools used to market their agenda for taking control over society, including the Transformations movies, Transformation organizations in communities around the country, and the Seven Mountains campaign. The latter is about taking control over the mountains or “power centers” of arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media and religion. The apostles who lead in areas outside of church are called Workplace or Marketplace Apostles.
The apostles teach that the obstacles to their envisioned Kingdom on earth are demonic beings who hold control over geographic territory and specific “people groups.” They claim these demons are the reason why people of other religions refuse to become evangelized. These demons, which the apostles address by name, are also claimed to be the source of crime, corruption, illness, poverty, and homosexuality. The eradication of social ills, as claimed in the Transformations media, can only take place through mass evangelization; not through other human efforts to cure societal ills. This message was repeated throughout Perry’s prayer event, although it may not have been apparent to those unfamiliar with the movement’s lingo and narratives.
The apostles teach that their followers are currently receiving an outpouring of supernatural powers to help them fight these demons through what they call Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW). They have held ceremonies to “divorce Baal” and claim to burn and otherwise destroy icons and artifacts of other religious belief systems.  These unique SLSW concepts and methodologies, previously unknown in the evangelical world, include spiritual mapping to identify and purge both demons and their human helpers. The humans are often identified in training materials as witches and their activities as witchcraft.
Many of the evangelical “Reconciliation” programs popularized over the last decade are an outgrowth of the apostles’ SLSW efforts to remove demons, including “generational curses,” which they claim obstruct the evangelization of specific racial and ethnic groups. These activities have political significance not apparent to outsiders. Kansas Governor and former Senator Sam Brownback worked extensively with leading apostles in pursuing an official apology from the U.S. Senate to Native Americans. However, NAR has promoted this apology as part of Identificational Repentance and Reconciliation, an SLSW method to remove demonic control over Native Americans and evangelize tribes. Curiously, this apology is also viewed as a required step in their spiritual warfare agenda to criminalize abortion.
Apostle Alice Patterson and Pastor C. L. Jackson stood with Rick Perry as he addressed the audience at his Houston prayer rally. This went unnoticed by members of the press, but sent a strong message to those familiar with Patterson and Jackson’s activities in convincing African American pastors in Texas to leave the Democratic Party and become Republicans. This is done by outreach to African Americans through “reconciliation” ceremonies. They also utilize David Barton’s revisionist American history,  which ties Democrats to racism and civil rights to conservatives and Republicans. Patterson has written that there is a “demonic structure behind the Democratic Party.”
History of the New Apostolic Reformation
A wave of religious fervor swept through the U.S. in the early 1900s resulting in Pentecostalism and the establishment of  denominations emphasizing supernatural “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” including speaking in tongues. A second wave swept through other Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism beginning in the 1960s, producing pockets of Charismatic believers. (“Charismatic” is usually used to describe those who embrace the belief of supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit but are not in Pentecostal denominations.)
Some remained in their respective churches while the remainder left to join other nondenominational Charismatics in what would become the largest single (and largely overlooked) block of Protestantism in the world — Independent Charismatics, also called neo-Pentecostals or the “Third Wave.” By the late 1980s, Independent Charismatics began to be networked under the leadership of self-appointed apostles and prophets who view the reorganization of the church as crucial to preparation for the end times. C. Peter Wagner, a prolific author and professor for 30 years at Fuller Theological Seminary, became the primary force behind organizing one of the largest and most influential of apostolic and prophetic networks. He dubbed it the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR).
Wagner and other NAR pioneers refined their unique Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare training and demon-hunting methods through the latter 1980s and 1990s. Due to Wagner’s international reputation as an expert in “Church Growth” (his most famous pupil is Rick Warren) and Wagner’s leadership role in the frantic rush by international missions to evangelize the world prior to the year 2000, these unusual techniques gained surprisingly widespread acceptance in some evangelical circles.
Wagner had a major role through the 1990s in the Billy Graham-endorsed AD 2000 and Beyond, working closely with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and Independent Charismatic groups in what they would dub as the “world prayer movement.” Ted Haggard, who would later become president of the National Association of Evangelicals, claimed that the effort involved 40 million people worldwide. As 2000 AD and Beyond was winding down in the late 1990s, Wagner left Fuller Seminary and resettled in Colorado Springs.  Wagner partnered with Haggard and continued his international networking from the World Prayer Center adjacent to Haggard’s mega-church.
Wagner claimed that the New Apostolic Reformation, a new era in church history, began in 2001 and organized several hundred apostles with their own networks into the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). In addition, Wagner oversaw: an inner circle of prophets (ACPE or Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders); demon deliverance experts (ISDM or International Society of Deliverance Ministries); faith-healers (IAHR or International Association of Healing Room Ministries); an international training network (Wagner Leadership Institute); and their own educational accreditation system (ACEA or Apostolic Council for Educational Accountability, now called the Association of Christian Educators and Administrators).
Transformation is the movement’s buzzword for taking control over communities. The Transformation entities usually begin as prayer networks of pastors and individuals that are advertised as nonsectarian.  Charitable activities are emphasized as a way to gain a foothold in financially strapped municipalities and they provide faith-based services from emergency response to juvenile rehabiliation. Today NAR has “prayer warrior” networks under the authority of their apostles in all 50 states, some now organizing by precincts.
The movement has had a widespread impact, spreading ideology to other Charismatics inside Mainline Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism, although non-Charismatic Roman Catholicism is viewed as controlled by a powerful demon named “The Queen of Heaven.” Over the last few years, the apostles have taken visible leadership roles in the Religious Right in the United States and numerous nations in Africa, Asia, and South America and claim Uganda as their greatest “Transformations” success story and prototype.
After years of political activity and increasing power inside the American Religious Right, NAR has suddenly been propelled into national press coverage by presidential candidate Rick Perry and his supposedly nonpartisan and nonpolitical prayer rally. Now that he has been chosen and anointed by the movement’s apostles, the prayer warriors across the nation can be mobilized on his behalf.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/story/152034/meet_the_christian_dominionist_%22prayer_warriors%22_who_have_chosen_rick_perry_as_their_vehicle_to_power?page=entire