Tag: pat robertson

Christians claim persecution after Patriots cut Tim Tebow

Source: Examiner

Author: Michael Stone

“Christians are claiming persecution after Christian darling Tim Tebow was cut from the New England Patriots. The Patriots released Tebow on Saturday, a move that leaves the polarizing and proselytizing quarterback’s NFL future in doubt.

Many Christians are unhappy with the decision, claiming Tebow is the victim of persecution because of his outspoken and public profession of his Christian faith. Tebow, raised by controversial evangelical missionary parents, is famous for praying on the football field. His pretentious public displays of piety have thrilled his Christian fans, while making many others slightly ill.

The following is a sample of comments from Christians claiming Tebow’s release from the Patriots is a result of persecution because of Tebow’s Christian faith, taken from the conservative website The Blaze:

Shame on NFL Owners and Coach’s for caving under the pressure brought on by the Satanic liberals that have taken over ESPN and the other Sport Media outlets.

The problem here is: Tim Tebow is not a gangster, drug dealer or user, wife or girlfriend beater, or a murderer. No, he chose religion over these other labels and is paying the price for it.

Tim Tebow was meant to play football that’s the gift the “Good Lord” blessed Him with, and you know it was Christian phobic liberal’s who had something to do with this decision….

It is quite clear that Tim Tebow is not on a team because of his faith….

Tebow is no stranger to controversy. As a college football player he was notorious for wearing his Christian beliefs on his sleeve, and on his face. Tebow’s trademark game-day look was black under-eye make-up high-lighting various Bible verses. Wearing Bible verses under his eyes naturally endeared Tebow to some Christians, while many others found the behavior an obnoxious and gratuitous display.

In Dec. 2011, Christian extremists went on the warpath, launching a boycott of HBO, after comedian and atheist Bill Maher sent out a tweet making fun of Tebow’s performance on the field.

Last year, Tebow trademarked “Tebowing,” the ostentatious on field signature prayer that helped make the second rate NFL quarterback a darling of the Christian right.”

For more news, information and humor relevant to atheists, freethinkers, and secular humanists, check out Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner on Facebook.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.examiner.com/article/christians-claim-persecution-after-patriots-cut-tim-tebow?CID=examiner_alerts_article

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GOP Insider: How Religion Destroyed My Party

 

Via AlterNet, Mike Lofgren’s book: The Party is Over (Viking Press) is reviewed.

Excerpts:

“Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war….

Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing…

The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars…

CNN’s Candy Crowley was particularly egregious in this respect, pressing Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann for a response and becoming indignant when they refused to answer. The question did not deserve an answer, because Crowley had set it up to legitimate a false premise: that Romney’s religious belief was a legitimate issue of public debate. This is a perfect example of how the media reinforce an informal but increasingly binding religious test for public office that the Constitution formally bans. Like the British constitution, the test is no less powerful for being unwritten…

the doctrine of “cheap grace,” a derisive term coined by the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. By that he meant the inclination of some religious adherents to believe that once they had been “saved,” not only would all past sins be wiped away, but future ones, too—so one could pretty much behave as before. Cheap grace is a divine get- out-of-jail-free card. Hence the tendency of the religious base of the Republican Party to cut some slack for the peccadilloes of candidates who claim to have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and reborn to a new and more Christian life. The religious right is willing to overlook a politician’s individual foibles, no matter how poor an example he or she may make, if they publicly identify with fundamentalist values. In 2011 the Family Research Council, the fundamentalist lobbying organization, gave Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois an award for “unwavering support of the family.” Representative Walsh’s ex-wife might beg to differ, as she claims he owes her over one hundred thousand dollars in unpaid child support, a charge he denies.

Some liberal writers have opined that the socioeconomic gulf separating the business wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no basic disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far it should go. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age; the theocrats to the Salem witch trials.

Many televangelists have espoused what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel—the health-and- wealth/name-it-and-claim-it gospel of economic entitlement. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! This rationale may explain why some poor voters will defend the prerogatives of billionaires. In any case, at the beginning of the 2012 presidential cycle, those consummate plutocrats the Koch brothers pumped money into Bachmann’s campaign, so one should probably not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

Some more libertarian-leaning Republicans have in fact pushed back against the religious right. Former House majority leader Dick Armey expressed his profound distaste for the tactics of the religious right in 2006—from the safety of the sidelines—by blasting its leadership in unequivocal terms:

[James] Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There’s a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn’t work unless it’s dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they’re easy. There ain’t no thinking.

Within the GOP libertarianism is a throwaway doctrine that is rhetorically useful in certain situations but often interferes with their core, more authoritarian, beliefs. When the two precepts collide, the authoritarian reflex prevails. In 2009 it was politically useful for the GOP to present the Tea Party as independent-leaning libertarians, when in reality the group was overwhelmingly Republican, with a high quotient of GOP activists and adherents of views common among the religious right. According to a 2010 Gallup poll, eight in ten Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans…

Ayn Rand, an occasional darling of the Tea Party,…Rand proclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity as a religion of weaklings possessing a slave mentality…

This camouflaging of intentions is as much a strategy of the religious right and its leaders—James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Pat Robertson, and the rest—as it is of the GOP’s more secular political leaders in Washington. After the debacle of the Schiavo case and the electoral loss in 2008, the religious right pulled back and regrouped. They knew that the full-bore, “theoconservative” agenda would not sell with a majority of voters. This strategy accounts for Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition (who famously said that God sent a hurricane to New Orleans to punish the sodomites)…

Bachmann, Rick Perry, and numerous other serving representatives and senators have all had ties to Christian Dominionism, a doctrine proclaiming that Christians are destined to dominate American politics and establish a new imperium resembling theocratic government. According to one profile of Perry, adherents of Dominionism “believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take ‘dominion’ over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the ‘Seven Mountains’ of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world.” Note the qualifier: “stealthily.”

At the same religious forum where the GOP candidates confessed their sins, Bachmann went so far as to suggest that organized religion should keep its traditional legal privilege of tax exemption while being permitted to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. The fact that government prohibits express political advocacy is in her imagination muzzling preachers rather than just being a quid pro quo for tax-exempt status equivalent to that imposed on any 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. But for Bachmann and others of like mind, this is persecution of a kind that fuels their sense of victimhood and righteous indignation.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from “The Party is Over” [3] by Mike Lofgren. Copyright © 2012 by Mike Lofgren

See:http://www.alternet.org/print/news-amp-politics/gop-insider-how-religion-destroyed-my-party

 

5 Signs the Christian Right Still Wields Too Much Power in America

From:AlterNet

By:Peter Montgomery

N.B.: Separation of Church and State is more important than ever!

“This month, in a New Republic article titled “The End of the Christian Right,” historian Michael Kazin confidently asserts that “the Christian Right is a fading force in American life, one which has little chance of achieving its cherished goals.”

I have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared dead as a political force by someone in the mainstream media. Maybe Kazin’s piece seemed absurd to me because I read it the day after watching every Republican presidential candidate take time from their South Carolina debate preparation to stop by Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” event and pledge devotion to the Religious Right’s agenda.

Kazin acknowledges this dynamic, but says, “whatever their influence on the Republican primary, the Christian Right is fighting a losing battle with the rest of the country – above all, when it comes to abortion and same-sex marriage, the issues they care most about.”

Really? The Washington Post reports that with GOP now in control of both houses of the Virginia legislature, the state’s “most conservative Republicans aren’t holding back” and are pushing legislation that, among other things, will “roll back gay rights” and “beef up gun rights, property rights, parental rights and fetal rights.”

Here are five reasons why we shouldn’t declare the end of the Christian Right.

1. Redefining Religious Liberty 

Kazin does not address church-state separation or efforts by the Religious Right and its allies, particularly the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to redefine religious liberty. In the name of “religious liberty,” they demand religious exemptions from generally applicable laws, but only for their religious beliefs; take government funding for religiously based programs but cry discrimination when a government grant program has anti-discrimination policies incompatible with their religious beliefs; portray those who oppose government funding of religion as anti-religious bigots and and claim oppression when government officials are made to comply with the separation of church and state.

Under President George W. Bush, Religious Right leaders’ political support was rewarded with weakened legal protections against tax dollars being used to fund religious discrimination and proselytizing, troubling changes that have yet to be fully reversed by the Obama administration. A phalanx of conservative Christian legal organizations fights daily to weaken the legal separation of church and state, and to reverse restrictions on overt electoral activity by tax-exempt churches.

2. Lack of Big Names ≠ Lack of Big Influence  

Kazin cites “the absence of effective, well-known leaders” as a reason for the Religious Right’s decline. It’s true that there’s a shortage of household names among the Religious Right’s leadership, and that the endorsement of Rick Santorum by a group of evangelical leaders didn’t give him the boost they had hoped. But that fact reflects at least in part the decentralization and mainstreaming of the movement. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson were like Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw back when the networks were the only game in town. Now the Religious Right influences culture and politics through a massive and diffuse infrastructure of religious ministries, educational institutions, think tanks, political organizations, radio and television empires, and online media — not to mention the elected officials they have put into power in Congress and all across the country.

Newt Gingrich has spent years cultivating support among Religious Right activists by attacking “secular elites” and insisting in books like Rediscovering God in America that our country’s greatness is tied to the notion of a divinely inspired American exceptionalism. His fans weren’t going to abandon him on the say-so of a group of self-appointed leaders.

3. The Leadership Pipeline 

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and other conservative leaders are products of the Religious Right’s educational and leadership pipeline, which is training thousands of college and law school students how to bring their “biblical worldview” to bear on government, the courts and society in general. Journalist Sarah Posner has reported on law school students being taught to advise clients to follow God’s law rather than man’s law at Liberty University, the Falwell-founded school where Romney’s new debate coach built a powerhouse debating team.

Virginia Gov. McDonnell got an MA and JD from Pat Robertson’s Regent University; Rep. Michele Bachmann got her law degree from the law school at Oral Roberts University, which was later taken over by Regent. Right-wing foundations pour millions each year into conservative college newspapers, leadership training programs, and fellowships at “think tanks” that allow people like Dinesh D’Souza to claim the title of “scholar” while turning out dreck like his book portraying Kenyan anti-colonialism as the roots of Obama’s “rage.”

The Religious Right and its conservative allies have put a lot of like-minded federal judges on the courts in the past two decades, and they’ve done quite well with the John Roberts-led conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Religious Right leaders are pulling out all the stops to make sure a Republican president and Senate are in place; the American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow told a Faith and Freedom gathering in South Carolina just before the primary there that if “President Romney” were to name two more justices, Sekulow wouldn’t have to worry any more about counting to five when he had a case before the court.

Newt Gingrich, who swamped Romney in South Carolina, staked out a more radical approach to the judiciary were he to be elected president. Gingrich says he would ignore rulings he disagrees with and abolish courts that rule in ways that displease him; he frequently cites church-state issues when complaining about the courts.

4. The Assault on Choice and Family Planning  

The 2010 wave of right-wing electoral victories at the state level has brought an accelerated attack on women’s healthcare. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 69 anti-choice measures became law in 25 states last year; some of these laws ban pre-viability abortions without meaningful exceptions for women’s health and are clearly designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. Some are designed to force clinics to close and simply make abortion inaccessible for even more women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 87 percent of U.S. counties already have no abortion providers. A consistent Religious Right rallying cry in recent years has been to “defund Planned Parenthood,” with no apparent regard for the impact on women who count on the organization for basic medical care. Last year, seven states restricted or barred family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood or any health center that provides abortion care.

Kazin believes it is “exceedingly unlikely” that a President Romney would sign a draconian anti-abortion bill. Why is that? Romney has said repeatedly that he believes life begins “at conception” and would back efforts to enshrine that in law or even in the Constitution. It’s true, as Kazin notes, that Mississippi voters recently rejected a “personhood” amendment. But just this week every GOP candidate except Romney took part in an event organized by PersonhoodUSA  — at which it wasn’t sufficient for candidates to repeat the “at conception” dogma. They had to agree that legal rights begin at the sperm-meets-egg moment. That this extreme and hugely problematic principle is embraced by presidential contenders is a clear sign of the Religious Right’s continuing influence.

Romney, who named Robert Bork to head his legal advisory team, would almost certainly nominate Supreme Court justices who would continue to chip away at a woman’s right to a legal abortion if not overturn Roe v. Wade altogether — another of Romney’s stated goals. That would throw the question of legal access to abortion to the states, where a number of laws criminalizing abortion have already been passed contingent on Roe falling. Does Kazin really believe that if the 2012 elections bring us a Republican president and Republican congressional majorities, the Republican base will not demand — and get — further restrictions on women’s access to abortion and family planning?

5. Massive Resistance to LGBT Equality  

Kazin is correct that the Religious Right is losing the public opinion battle when it comes to support for equality for LGBT Americans, where progress has been extraordinary. The hard-fought end to the ban on military service is a sign that laws are beginning to catch up with public opinion.

But just because the Religious Right is a minority does not make it a powerless one. They and their allies in Congress have managed to prevent passage of federal anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in spite of overwhelming public support for such measures. And they have managed to pass dozens of state-level constitutional amendments denying same-sex couples the right to marry – many of those provisions also preventing even the most basic legal recognition and protection for gay couples and their families. In 2010, Maine voters overturned an equality law after opponents forced it onto the ballot. New Yorkers won marriage equality last year (barely), but residents in Maryland and New Jersey did not. There will be several tests in legislatures and the ballot box, both pro and con, in 2012; we may see additional victories, but they are far from assured.

It is good news that support for equality is high among younger Americans, so time seems to be on our side when it comes to LGBT equality, but to cite an economic aphorism, “in the long run we’re all dead.”  Many individuals and families have been harmed and will continue to be harmed by anti-equality campaigns waged by the Religious Right and its allies in the Catholic and Mormon hierarchies.

Progress is not linear or irreversible. Reconstruction gave way to Jim Crow. Kazin looks at statistics about young people’s attitudes, and at the growing group of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, and declares “the end of the Christian Right.” But the increasing number of secular-minded Americans does not prevent the well-organized forces of the Religious Right from continuing to impact public policy, especially in areas of the country where they are strongest. This political and cultural movement will not be sinking beneath the horizon anytime soon.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation.

Emphasis Mine:

See:http://www.alternet.org/story/153949/5_signs_the_christian_right_still_wields_too_much_power_in_america?page=entire

5 Founding Fathers Whose Skepticism About Christianity Would Make Them Unelectable Today

From: AlterNet

By: Rob Boston  *N.B.: The first clause of the first Amendment is our only defense against theocracy…

“To hear the Religious Right tell it, men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were 18th-century versions of Jerry Falwell in powdered wigs and stockings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike many of today’s candidates, the founders didn’t find it necessary to constantly wear religion on their sleeves. They considered faith a private affair. Contrast them to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (who says he wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president because non-believers lack the proper moral grounding to guide the American ship of state), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who hosted a prayer rally and issued an infamous ad accusing President Barack Obama of waging a “war on religion”) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (whose uber-Catholicism leads him to oppose not just abortion but birth control).

There was a time when Americans voted for candidates who were skeptical of core concepts of Christianity like the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus and the virgin birth. The question is, could any of them get elected today? The sad answer is probably not.

Here are five founding fathers whose views on religion would most likely doom them to defeat today:

1. George Washington. The father of our country was nominally an Anglican but seemed more at home with Deism. The language of the Deists sounds odd to today’s ears because it’s a theological system of thought that has fallen out of favor. Desists believed in God but didn’t necessarily see him as active in human affairs. The god of the Deists was a god of first cause. He set things in motion and then stepped back.

Washington often employed Deistic terms. His god was a “supreme architect” of the universe. Washington saw religion as necessary for good moral behavior but didn’t necessarily accept all Christian dogma. He seemed to have a special gripe against communion and would usually leave services before it was offered.

Washington was widely tolerant of other beliefs. He is the author of one of the great classics of religious liberty – the letter to Touro Synagogue (1790). In this letter, Washington assured America’s Jews that they would enjoy complete religious liberty in America; not mere toleration in an officially “Christian” nation. He outlines a vision of a multi-faith society where all are free.

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation,” wrote Washington. “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Stories of Washington’s deep religiosity, such as tales of him praying in the snow at Valley Forge, can be ignored. They are pious legends invented after his death.

2. John Adams. The man who followed Washington in office was a Unitarian, although he was raised a Congregationalist and never officially left that church. Adams rejected belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, core concepts of Christian dogma. In his personal writings, Adams makes it clear that he considered some Christian dogma to be incomprehensible.

In February 1756, Adams wrote in his diary about a discussion he had had with a man named Major Greene. Greene was a devout Christian who sought to persuade Adams to adopt conservative Christian views. The two argued over the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. Questioned on the matter of Jesus’ divinity, Greene fell back on an old standby: some matters of theology are too complex and mysterious for we puny humans to understand.

Adams was not impressed. In his diary he wrote, “Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

As president, Adams signed the famous Treaty of Tripoli, which boldly stated, “[T]he government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion….”

3. Thomas Jefferson. It’s almost impossible to define Jefferson’s subtle religious views in a few words. As he once put it, “I am a sect by myself, as far as I know.” But one thing is clear: His skepticism of traditional Christianity is well established. Our third president did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin and other core Christian doctrines. He was hostile to many conservative Christian clerics, whom he believed had perverted the teachings of that faith.

Jefferson once famously observed to Adams, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

Although not an orthodox Christian, Jefferson admired Jesus as a moral teacher. In one of his most unusual acts, Jefferson edited the New Testament, cutting away the stories of miracles and divinity and leaving behind a very human Jesus, whose teachings Jefferson found “sublime.” This “Jefferson Bible” is a remarkable document – and it would ensure his political defeat today. (Imagine the TV commercials the Religious Right would run: Thomas Jefferson hates Jesus! He mutilates Bibles!)

Jefferson was confident that a coolly rational form of religion would take root in the fertile intellectual soil of America. He once predicted that just about everyone would become Unitarian. (Despite his many talents, the man was no prophet.)

Jefferson took political stands that would infuriate today’s Religious Right and ensure that they would work to defeat him. He refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting, saying that such religious duties were no part of the chief executive’s job. His assertion that the First Amendment erects a “wall of separation between church and state” still rankles the Religious Right today.

4. James Madison. Jefferson’s close ally would be similarly unelectable today. Madison is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the founders when it comes to religion. To this day, scholars still debate his religious views.

Nominally Anglican, Madison, some of his biographers believe, was really a Deist. He went through a period of enthusiasm for Christianity as a young man, but this seems to have faded. Unlike many of today’s politicians, who eagerly wear religion on their sleeves and brag about the ways their faith will guide their policy decisions, Madison was notoriously reluctant to talk publicly about his religious beliefs.

Madison was perhaps the strictest church-state separationist among the founders, taking stands that make the ACLU look like a bunch of pikers. He opposed government-paid chaplains in Congress and in the military. As president, Madison rejected a proposed census because it involved counting people by profession. For the government to count the clergy, Madison said, would violate the First Amendment.

Madison, who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, also opposed government-issued prayer proclamations. He issued a few during the War of 1812 at the insistence of Congress but later concluded that his actions had been unconstitutional. As president, he vetoed legislation granting federal land to a church and a plan to have a church in Washington care for the poor through a largely symbolic charter. In both cases, he cited the First Amendment.

One can hear the commercials now: “James Madison is an anti-religious fanatic. He even opposes prayer proclamations during time of war.”

5. Thomas Paine. Paine never held elective office, but he played an important role as a pamphleteer whose stirring words helped rally Americans to independence. Washington ordered that Paine’s pamphlet “The American Crisis” be read aloud to the Continental Army as a morale booster on Dec. 23, 1776. “Common Sense” was similarly popular with the people. These seminal documents were crucial to winning over the public to the side of independence.

So Paine’s a hero, right? He was also a radical Deist whose later work, The Age of Reason, still infuriates fundamentalists. In the tome, Paine attacked institutionalized religion and all of the major tenets of Christianity. He rejected prophecies and miracles and called on readers to embrace reason. The Bible, Paine asserted, can in no way be infallible. He called the god of the Old Testament “wicked” and the entire Bible “the pretended word of God.” (There go the Red States!)

What can we learn from this? Americans have the right to reject candidates for any reason, including their religious beliefs. But they ought to think twice before tossing someone aside just because he or she is skeptical of orthodox Christianity. After all, that description includes some of our nation’s greatest leaders”.

Rob Boston is senior policy analyst at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/153727/5_founding_fathers_whose_skepticism_about_christianity_would_make_them_unelectable_today?page=entire

Political Reporters Start Reading Religious Right Books

N.B.: This is why the First Clause of The First Amendment is more important than ever!

 

From RD, by Sarah Posner

“There’s a somewhat refreshing development taking place in political reporting. Not only reporters are noticing that Republican candidates coalesce with religious right leaders, but they are also discovering a crucial truth about the movement: that its followers aren’t just motivated by opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. They are motivated by something more fundamental, a reimagined “truth” about what America is (and isn’t) and how a “biblical worldview” should guide politics and policymaking.

This is a good thing, of course, because as Joanna argued this morning, candidates should be asked tough questions about how their beliefs would impact their governing. Michele Bachmann thinks that God is trying to send a message through earthquakes and hurricanes, and that message is not (in her mind) that Republicans should stop obsessing about energy efficient lightbulbs being “tyranny,” or talking about closing down the Environmental Protection Agency.

Twitter lit up this morning after Jonathan Martin’s piece in Politico (“Is Rick Perry Dumb?”) noted that he was reading Charles Stanley’s book, Turning the Tide. Stanley is pastor of megachurch First Baptist Church of Atlanta and one-time Southern Baptist Convention president whose broadcasts through his In Touch ministry are seen and heard on radio and television across the country. Stanley, although widely known, is not without controversy: after years of marital trouble, his wife divorced him in 2000. Despite longstanding SBC denunciation of divorce, Stanley remained as pastor of his church despite an unwritten SBC prohibition on divorced men serving as pastors (the SBC prohibits ordination of women, but this resolution is not binding on local churches, who can decide otherwise). At the time, a church spokesperson said, “God has positioned Dr. Stanley in a place where his personal pain has validated his ability to minister to all of us.”

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, whose piece on Michele Bachmann brought dominionism to the forefront of the political conversation (even though reporters who cover the religious right have reported on it for years), started tweeting quotes from Stanley’s book, such as “Pray to help leaders ‘reaffirm our Christian heritage and reestablish Your biblical precepts as the basis of American society and law.'” He also observed, “Can’t remember another campaign bragging that candidate was reading a book that asked people to pray for conversion of all Jews and Muslims.”Perhaps Lizza can’t remember, and perhaps a campaign didn’t explicitly brag about reading a particular book, but considering that conversion of non-believers is a standard evangelical imperative, it shouldn’t be too terribly surprising that an evangelical candidate would brag about reading a book that contained such an exhortation. And as I’ve argued before, creating candidates like Perry (or Bachmann) has been years in the making. Doug Wead, in his 1985 memo to George H.W. Bush, named Stanley as one of the leading religious leaders in America whose support the candidate should cultivate. Stanley, then the president of the SBC, “is said to be ‘intrigued’ by the [Pat] Robertson candidacy but ‘leaning to George Bush.'” Oh, yeah, that guy, Pat Robertson! Remember when he ran for president?Wead continued: Dr. Stanley is the key to building relationships with the seven or eight pastors of the largest SBC churches. Like Stanley, these pastors will probably endorse someone for president. They will influence others through the use of their mailing lists, radio and television programs, and printed materials which get across their message without violating their government awarded 501 c3 status. They will even have voter registration booths in their church lobbies which will be open after a rather pointed sermon, “I don’t want to influence how you vote but . . . .” Let’s not forget how a mere four years ago Mike Huckabee (himself an SBC pastor considered a moderate by some in his denomination!) gave a Christmas sermon at John Hagee‘s church,said that the Constitution should be amended to conform with “God’s standards,” said that allowing “seculars” to govern America would lead to Nazism, rallied a church in New Hampshire to enlist in “God’s army” to be “soldiers for Christ,” appeared to be the anointed one of some religious right godfathers, and drew the wrath of the late Robert Novak, no less, because of his ties to Christian Reconstructionism. Or that John McCain wrapped his arms around Rod Parsley and Hagee, or that even Rudy Giuliani sought and gained Robertson’s blessing. And that was just ’08; it’s all been going on much longer than that.  While GOP candidates’ cultivation of conservative evangelicals is not a surprise, it is a good thing that it’s being discussed more. Perhaps, if nothing else, it will put the lid on the inevitable “is the religious right dead?” piece.

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/5028/

For God’s Sake: The Idiocy of “Divine Inspiration” In Politics

From Alternet:”Lately, there would seem to be a whole lot more people who have a direct channel to the Big Guy Upstairs than one could have humanly thought possible.

It is oft-said that “God works in mysterious ways”. But when Michele Bachmann hears voices telling her to run for president, am I the only who thinks the most likely explanation is a batch of bad clams or one-too-many nights role playing The Book of Eli with her equally demented husband Marcus?

Perhaps, these are the very same voices that have shared with her the important roleFounding Father John Quincy Adams” played in ending slavery as he battled the oncoming scourge of puberty? I don’t know, just a stab in the dark.

Regardless, whether it is gay marriage or spotting the Virgin Mary in your gordita, our re-embrace of culture-by-theology in the United States (not unlike much of the rest of the world) has led supposedly “serious people” to say things that not so long ago would have landed them a starring role in Girl, Interrupted.

In our current age, in fact, possessing a direct cerebral channel to Deus (or at least claiming you do) would seem to be a requirement for receiving an invitation to a GOP presidential debate.

It equally pervades the rest of right-wing political culture in the US, as twisted scripture both provides ready justification for those who hate everything about the this country post-1930, and renders more difficult the job of the media to effectively criticise any crackpot theory-lest they lose their “objectivity” for a moment and offend some True Believers.

For example, in light of the recent law passed by the New York state legislature providing full marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, dingy-old-Hammerhead-Bat Pat Robertson offered his expert testimony that “there’s never been a civilisation ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived.”

He went on to compare the United States to Sodom and pleasantly predict we’d suffer the same fate – complete annihilation.

In case you’re keeping score, Jesus is apparently cool with Rev Robertson’s having befriended the al-Qaeda-harboring, genocidal thug Charles Taylor, in order to fatten his wallet from a steady diet of Liberian blood diamonds. When it comes to loving couples of the same sex tying the knot, however, not so much.

Thankfully, for the rest of us, Robertson’s many past predictions of our collective demise were so inane they might as well have been announced on an aircraft carrier with a “Mission Accomplished” banner in the background.

So to pick up the slack, Missouri GOP Congressman and apparent Mary-Shelley-creation Todd Akin also jumped into the God interpretation game last week – likely as a strategy to forward his US Senate campaign. Akin, in an obvious moment of clarity, puked out that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.” Because, as we all know, nothing is closer to the teachings of the Bible than Akin’s record of lying about his address for voting purposes and cutting taxes for 8-figure earning CEOs while gutting health care for impoverished children.

Sadly, however, our God Culture isn’t limited to just the political game, but also allows some of those clever cats, professional athletes, to get in on the action.

I must admit to finding it rather amusing – as in completely ridiculous – whenever an overpaid ballplayer hits a three-point shot or bashes a fastball over the center field wall, only to respond by pointing up to the Heavens as if it were Divinely ordained. Because we all know any Higher Power has nothing better to do – like ending conflict in the Sudan or curing cancer – than taking in some sport and using his/her powers to ensure Arsenal wins the FA Cup.

Somewhere Jacob is trying to best that blood-sucker Edward and win the affections of Bella, and God is going to worry about the Stanley Cup? How arrogant.

It is this hubris that must explain why one of the heroes of the 2007 Super-Bowl-winning New York Giants, David Tyree, thought it his place to tell us what His God would think of gay marriage in New York – much like Brother Robertson. As you can imagine, according to Tyree, it just up and freaked God out.

I guess he missed the part where he’s the guy we trust to catch the ball on the field, not make public policy according to his translation of the will of his Deity off of it.

For, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Believer or not. Most of us to the north of birdbrain can agree that no matter what Bachmann, Akin, Robertson or Tyree have to say on the matter, it is in fact societies ruled by faux-pious numbskulls that, to quote the elegant and articulate Robertson, have “never, ever survived.”

Perhaps he and his Republican buddies can ponder–and share on Google+ with their circles of friends, family, and even acquaintances, for the rest of our sakes–the words of the founder of their party, Abraham Lincoln, who once counseled that it is “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Cliff Schecter is the president of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm.

Emphasis mine

see:http://www.alternet.org/story/151658/for_god%27s_sake%3A_the_idiocy_of_%22divine_inspiration%22_in_politics/?page=entire

Pat Robertson’s take on Gay Marriage

From Connie Talk (via HuffPost) : With the debate over same-sex marriage raging nationwide, Pat Robertson – founder of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice), CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network), and other organizations and corporations – is likening non-heterosexual unions to polygamy with regard to how they should be dealt with under the law.

“Mark my words,” Pat said, “This is just the beginning of a LONG, downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent.”

It doesn’t make sense, he stated, to CRIMINALIZE  child molestation and pedophilia while creating Constitutional amendments allowing same-sex marriage among homosexuals…Homosexuality is viewed differently among religious standpoints, but it’s certainly not a punishable crime like bestiality, pedophilia, or molestation. These are offenses that consist of the INABILITY of the person or animal affected to consent. So regardless of whether Pat’s view of the illegality same-sex unions is religiously or politically justifiable or not, he’ll get a well-deserved verbal lashing on this one…consenting adults that want to be married are NOT AKIN to those who harm animals or children. Is he suggesting that homosexuality be criminalized as well? Could we all agree that would shame the history of a nation struggling for equality among diversity? You may or may not agree with gay marriage, but you can’t deny that there is love involved, and love in and of itself is not criminal.”

see: http://www.connietalk.com/bad_move_pat_050809.html