The Messianic Jewish/Christian Zionist Complex
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:54:44 AM EST
Over the years, you may have become familiar with Jews for Jesus, the organization that was founded more than forty years ago, and focuses on converting Jews to Christianity. It is less likely, however, that you're acquainted with Messianic Jews, who, although relatively small in numbers, are establishing relationships with Christian Zionists and have the potential to become a more influential political force.
(2 comments, 1144 words in story)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 20, 2014 at 08:50:41 AM EST
 photo loathinglincoln.jpgOne under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for the Confederacy Michael Peroutka, who was elected to Maryland's Anne Arundel County Council; and Joni Ernst, a proponent of nullification and secession, who was elected to the United States Senate from Iowa. It has also resulted in divisions on the Christian Right as well as in the wider Republican Party.
(2 comments, 1103 words in story)
The Unbelievable Lightness of Being Donnie Swaggart
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 01:21:05 PM EST
It may not seem possible, but Jimmy Swaggart's son Donnie is making his father look pretty darned good. In the late 1980s, the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, one of the most watched and wealthiest televangelists of his era, was involved in one of the Religious Right's most memorable and salacious sex scandals; he was caught with a prostitute in a hotel room located along New Orleans' notoriously sleazy Airport Highway. His tearful apology has become a YouTube classic. Some twenty-seven years later, Pastor Donnie Swaggart is raving about gays and lesbians wanting to behead Christians. Some one needs to find this guy a prostitute!
(3 comments, 625 words in story)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Nov 08, 2014 at 08:10:08 PM EST
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new article at Truthout about theocratic communities in the U.S. and the challenges they pose to separation of church and state. She focuses most of her attention on the theocratic town that surrounds Ave Maria School of Law.  

Our own Frank Cocozzelli has been writing about Monaghan's empire for years (here and here) at Talk to Action, as well as in the wider context of the Catholic Right in The Public Eye magazine.

Bader continues the story at Truthout.  Its an important read.

(6 comments, 398 words in story)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 03, 2014 at 10:41:34 AM EST

A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.

The proposal put forth by the Magnolia State Heritage Campaign is pretty wide-ranging and is being pitched as a way to protect "Southern" (read: pro-Confederate) culture. It contains 12 subsections.

(5 comments, 667 words in story)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 03, 2014 at 08:54:08 AM EST
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church had on its platform the who's who of the Religious Right.  Several speakers have been in trouble because of church electioneering.  Don't look for this movement to lose momentum.  
(1 comment, 752 words in story)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 03, 2014 at 08:53:33 AM EST
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the city's mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church had on its platform the who's who of the Religious Right.  Several speakers have been in trouble because of church electioneering.  Don't look for this movement to lose momentum.  
(761 words in story)
Houston's I Stand Sunday
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 02, 2014 at 04:22:53 PM EST
In response to Houston's gay mayor's solicitation of church sermons, on Nov. 2, 2014, Houston Texas will host an I Stand Sunday.  The event, held at a church that openly endorsed a politician, wants to be a player in these issues.  The meeting, held at Grace Church, happens to be the congregation charged by Americans United for Separation of Church and State with using church stationary to seek to endorse a Congressional replacement for Tom DeLay.    Pastor Ed Young will speak.  Ed is the CEO of Second Baptist which has franchises across the region and was in court with the IRS over publicly endorsing candidates for office.   Mike Huckabee, Fox News analyst, is known for claiming that the man who wrote the book about the Myth of Separation of Church and State, is the greatest historian of our generation.  Rick Scarborough, who once claimed Tom DeLay was crucified like Jesus, will speak.  Rick drug his Houston suburb church into the political arena and tore up the congregation.  David Welch, head of the local pastor's conference, seeks to get churches directly engaged in right wing politics.  Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention is in the house.  Ronnie once used his pulpit in Arkansas to endorse George W. Bush for President.  The head of ADF will be present.  His organization is the nationally known group encouraging churches to defy the tax codes and publicly endorse candidates for office challenging the churches to defy the government and go into the court rooms.  Meanwhile the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recently gave a public civic award to Wendy Davis. Davis is the Democratic candidate for Governor in Texas.  Entanglement with churches and denominations and politicians tends to be the trend today.
(2 comments)
Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 03:41:18 PM EST
This is a reposting of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation -- FC

Real Religious Liberty is not Oppression
FREDERICK CLARKSON
Senior Fellow, Political Research Associates

Religious liberty is one of the defining issues of our time -- offering distinct challenges and historic opportunities for LGBTQ people and everyone who is struggling to create a more just society. As the Christian Right continues to use the term to frame their issues, we must not concede the definition of religious liberty to interlopers.

Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which theocratic factions, and the politicians who pander to them, have no claim.

(735 words in story)
Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 21, 2014 at 10:18:34 AM EST
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist Standard.  The article can be found at www.baptiststandard.com/digital-edition/126-42/17084:editorial-ho uston-subpoena      The result of her legal attempt to solicit the sermons of local pastors has sent a shock wave felt around the nation.  The end result is that it has given a platform to groups who were on the fringe and mostly unknown to congregations.  Facebook posts and inter net searches bring up the comments from these Religious Right groups.   The local chapter of Americans United for Separation of church (which I am a member), nor the Baptist Joint Committee, ACLU or other First Amendment groups are not solicited for comment.  Readers might be disappointed at who is chosen by the media to represent the churches.
(2 comments, 684 words in story)
Four Stories
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 07:22:56 PM EST
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  
"Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which theocratic factions, and the politicians who pander to them, have no claim."

The Public Eye  Two presidents in a row have increasingly steered federal grants and contracts to conservative Christian groups--including houses of worship. It is hard to imagine the Obama administration steering grants and contracts to state affiliates of Focus on the Family -- and worse. But here we are.

Eyes Right   I watched the extraordinary spectacle at the recent Values Voters  Conference in Washington, DC -- of Glenn Beck and Mark Levin trying to quell the current Neo-Confederate trend on the Christian Right.

Eyes Right   In "The Nullification of Religious Liberty" I write:  

It's true. Religious liberty is under sustained attack in America--but not in the way the Christian Right would have us believe. A theocratic (and sometimes Neo-Confederate) movement within the broader Christian Right is targeting the religious liberty of those they don't agree with. Marriage equality is currently on the front lines of this historic assault. And while it has not always been framed as an issue of religious liberty by LGBTQ activists and progressive allies, that is changing--even as advances in marriage equality in the courts and federal policy are causing some Christian Right leaders to discuss potential state-level nullification.

 

(2 comments)
Stealth Evangelism 3.0: The Remarkable Resilience of the Religious Right
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 08, 2014 at 11:16:57 AM EST
In 1990, a young Ralph Reed, newly hired by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition to oversee its daily operations, told the Los Angeles Times that, "What Christians have got to do is take back this country, one precinct at a time, one neighborhood at a time and one state at a time. I honestly believe that in my lifetime, we will see a country once again governed by Christians...and Christian values."

A year later, in an interview with Norfolk, Virginia's Virginian-Pilot, Reed talked about the organization's stealth political strategy, a strategy aimed at having Religious Right candidates hide their social agenda, while talking about other issues more attractive to voters, such as lower taxes: "I want to be invisible. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."

In a 1992 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Reed, who left the Christian Coalition a few years later to start up his own public relations firm, and was later caught up in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, explained stealth: "It's like guerrilla warfare. If you reveal your location, all it does is allow your opponent to improve his artillery bearings. It's better to move quietly, with stealth, under the cover of night."

In the intervening nearly twenty-five years, the Religious Right has used a number of strategies, from Reed's stealth tactics to developing high-powered political organizations and high-profile leaders like the Moral Majority's Jerry Falwell, the Christian Coalition's Pat Robertson, and Focus on the Family's James Dobson; from placing a succession of anti-gay and anti-abortion initiatives on state ballots to mobilizing committed conservative grassroots activists.

(1 comment, 1159 words in story)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Oct 04, 2014 at 07:25:56 PM EST
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient seriousness.  (I won't get into that story here. But suffice to say that even as it has its ups and downs, the Religious Right remains one of the most powerful and dynamic political movements in American history.)  

For decades a principal task for the movement has been to link its theology to the need for citizen action and electoral success to attain a more theocratic society.  Since the earliest days of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition the comparing of church membership lists with voter registration lists has been a staple of conservative church-based politicking. Some of it is entirely legal and many non-profit groups do similar things.  

My point here is not the legality or desirability of such activities, it is to point out the contemporary reality of Christian Right voter mobilization going into the November election.  

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Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 01, 2014 at 10:15:49 AM EST

When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply tell lies. Another, perhaps more common tactic, is to omit certain pieces of information, thus giving the listener an incomplete picture.

The latter tactic was on full display this year during the Religious Right's "Values Voter Summit" last week, and perhaps no one used it better than a man named Kelly Shackelford.

(2 comments, 874 words in story)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 04:50:14 PM EST
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing the problem of child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Finn who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a parish priest under his charge, has so far resisted calls for his resignation.  

It now appears that Pope Francis wants to remove that symbol.

(4 comments, 330 words in story)


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Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
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COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
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Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
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Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

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