American Renewal Project
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 26, 2015 at 10:17:10 AM EST
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an ad about Christian Reconstruction leader, Dr. Steven Hotze, hosting a new natural health remedy program with Houston Second Baptist Pastor Ed Young.  The ad helped set the tone for the event.    The meeting was provided free of charge for interested pastors and other activists.  Each participant received a free two nights in a five star hotel along with free banquets.
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`Just Go Somewhere Else!': A Cavalier Dismissal Of A Serious Concern
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 24, 2015 at 11:18:46 AM EST

A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During the question-and-answer session, an audience member asked why the Christian owner of a business should be expected to serve LGBT people.

One of my fellow panelists was a burly, bearded Adventist attorney. His answer was spot on. I don't remember the exact words, but he said something like this: "I'm left-handed. If I walked into a store and was told, `I'm sorry. We don't serve left-handed people,' my response to that would be simple: `Well, you do now.'"

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John Dorhauer Puts Christian Right on Notice
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Aug 21, 2015 at 08:30:18 PM EST
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer was a front pager here at Talk to Action years before he was elected General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. The focus of his writing was the role of conservative groups in undermining the UCC and the rest of mainline Protestantism in the name of "renewal."  He took office on August 1st, and while he was in the process of moving from Phoenix to Cleveland, (where the UCC is headquartered) he generously took the time to do an interview with me for Religion Dispatches.  Titled, Racial Justice Will Be Top Priority for New Prez of the United Church of Christ.  

Here is an excerpt from a much longer and wide-ranging profile and interview:

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Father Of Falsehoods: Why Ted Cruz's Dad Is Wrong About Prayer In Schools
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 17, 2015 at 10:20:02 AM EST

Many misconceptions abound about the issue of prayer in schools, and some people persist in believing a lot of myths. One of the most common is that children all over America prayed in public schools until 1962 when the U.S. Supreme Court made them stop.

The issue arose recently because Rafael Cruz, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's father, told the Austin American-Statesman, "Prior to 1962, everybody prayed before school started. In 1962, the Supreme Court banned prayer. In 1963, they banned the Bible from school. Prior to that, the Bible was the principal textbook in all schools."

(1 comment, 837 words in story)
A Texas Size Conspiracy
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 16, 2015 at 05:00:46 PM EST
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has recently been indicted by a grand jury for an illegal investment scheme.  He faces felony charges. Word has it some church groups who had him scheduled to speak have now pulled the offer.  The intriguing thing about the story is his connection to the state's Religious Right.  He is an active member of Prestonwood Baptist, one of the largest churches in the state.  It happens to also be a church where the pastor likes to use his influence as pastor to promote political candidates.  Many recall his advocating electing his friend, Mike Huckabee, for President.  It appears the church has not been silent about endorsing candidates for office.  A Dallas news magazine noted the head associate pastor in May of this year was sending out emails endorsing candidates for local elections.  
(1 comment, 1157 words in story)
Are the Anti-Planned Parenthood Smear Videos... Investigative Journalism?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 15, 2015 at 07:47:17 PM EST
I have been glad to see journalism catching up with the anti-Planned Parenthood scam videos. From The Huffington Post to the New England Journal of Medicine, the absence of evidence of unethical or illegal activities is slowly becoming the issue.  I wrote about this recently, pointing out among other things  that the producers of the anti-Planned Parenthood smear videos are attempting to cast themselves as investigative journalists, and that their legal defense against a temporary injunction against publication of certain further footage, is partly based on the same claim.

One of the underreported aspects of the current smear campaign against Planned Parenthood is the coarsening and polarizing of our civil discourse that usually accompanies discussions of the culture wars.  This has been especially glaring because the ongoing barrage of false and inflammatory language directed at Planned Parenthood and its staff by anti-abortion groups; and the remarkable disconnect between what is passing for evidence and investigative journalism, and the charges being leveled.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and various staff and affiliates stand accused of "selling" or "trafficking in baby parts."  They are said to be "profiteering" in a "black market."  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has gone so far as to call Planned Parenthood "an ongoing criminal enterprise."

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Liberty's Latest Ploy: What's Up With The Sanders Invite?
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 10, 2015 at 10:04:14 AM EST

The announcement that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will speak at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Sept. 14 has left a lot of people scratching their heads. Has the world been turned upside down?

From Sanders' perspective, the move makes sense. He's seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, and it never really hurts a candidate to go into the lion's den and stare down the opposition. Many supporters will see that as an act of political courage; you can almost hear them holler, "Give `em hell, Bernie!"

(4 comments, 696 words in story)
Creeping Christian Rightism in the Democratic Party
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 09, 2015 at 09:11:53 PM EST
The executive director of a DC group with deep roots in the Democratic faith outreach schemes of a decade ago, has a regular column at  His latest is titled, "John Kasich Could Be the GOP's Pope Francis Candidate." In it, Christopher Hale of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good compared Ohio Gov. John Kasich to Pope Francis.

At times during the first GOP debate on Thursday night, it was hard to tell who was talking: Pope Francis or Ohio Governor John Kasich.

I'll leave it to others to speak to Kasich's record --  but here is Hale's hosanna to Kasich.

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Ghosts Over Mississippi
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 09, 2015 at 05:11:11 PM EST
     Clinton, Mississippi is home to historic Mississippi College.  The Southern Baptist school is owned by the state Baptist convention in the Magnolia state.  Two of its graduates would prove to be key historical figures in the Civil Rights saga.  Both were active in Baptist churches and influential in historic civil rights battles that came to blossom almost one hundred years after the Civil War.
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The Cardinal's Gasbag: Catholic League Leader Rushes To Defend Dolan From AU Criticism
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 03, 2015 at 10:51:04 AM EST

There is a thing called Godwin's Law on the internet. It holds that if an online argument goes on long enough, someone will drag in a reference to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. At that point, that person has lost.

Today I'd like to propose a corollary to Godwin's Law: Anyone who compares a non-racist organization to the Ku Klux Klan has lost as well.

(2 comments, 951 words in story)
The Theocratic Politics of Raphael Cruz
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 02, 2015 at 10:11:48 PM EST
"There's a relationship there that's unlike any in American history to my knowledge. We've just never seen anything remotely like this...   I believe Ted Cruz is probably the first presidential candidate of any plausibility to have been specifically groomed to be the Christian right candidate for president."

That's what I told the Austin American Statesman in a must-read profile of Raphael Cruz, father of Ted.  I am hardly the first or the only person to make this observation, but as Ted Cruz pursues the GOP nomination for president, the question of how his views relate to the explicitly theocratic views of his father will likely become more of an issue.

(1 comment, 1107 words in story)
An Assassin's Motivation?
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 01, 2015 at 10:08:00 AM EST
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof quietly sat in the prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina before he shot and killed 9 church members.  Journalists claim he was motivated by reading the postings from a group formerly known as the White Citizen's Council.  I wanted to repost the article I had about the organization.
     You can check out the group and easily see how a troubled young man, prone to drug use, might be easily influenced to do what he did.
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Christian Right Turns to Nullification to Counter Marriage Equality
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jul 18, 2015 at 07:55:46 PM EST
Last year in The Public Eye magazine, Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli warned of the trend on the religious and political Right toward the use of "nullification" as a means of resistance by states to federal laws of which they do not approve. So it should come as no surprise that we are now seeing Christian Right leaders turn to nullification tactics in an attempt to thwart the marriage equality ruling at the Supreme Court.

In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback has issued "EXECUTIVE ORDER 15-05: Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom," which seeks to indemnify anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the rubric of the state's modified version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Brownback writes in the Order that  "the recent imposition of same sex marriage by the United States Supreme Court poses potential infringements on the civil right of religious liberty" and that, therefore, the state government shall not take  "action against a religious organization, including those providing social services, wholly or partially on the basis that such organization declines or will decline to solemnize any marriage or to provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration or recognition of any marriage, based upon or consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction..."

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Historian Gerald Horne on Charleston, Church, & Slave Resistance
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 03:29:02 PM EST
Professor Gerald Horne of the University of Houston notes the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was at the center of Black resistance to slavery in Charleston by the early 1800s.

Roof wrote that he picked Charleston because it is the home of so many Black people. Black people, Roof feared, threaten the existence of the White race. Events in the church's history play a role in Roof's fear.

Inspired by a Caribbean slave rebellion which began in 1791 in what is now Haiti, Black parishioner Denmark Vesey of Charleston began organizing an insurrection using the Emanuel AME church as a base.
(1 comment, 541 words in story)
The Zealots Strike Back: Latest Religious Right Sputtering Over Marriage Equality Is More Weak Tea
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jul 14, 2015 at 10:49:52 AM EST

I've been monitoring the Religious Right's response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, and I'm not impressed.

So far, the reaction of these groups has been limited to championing the cause of lazy government clerks who don't want to do their jobs, issuing tepid statements full of sound and fury but that signify nothing and getting all excited over the possibility that some government official somewhere might decide to be foolish enough to defy the decision.

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