MayDay! MayDay! The Rapture is Just Around The Corner, Warns Billy Graham's Daughter
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 26, 2015 at 10:20:24 AM EST
When someone insists that they have a direct line to God you might get a little concerned. It could be the old voices in the head syndrome, or perhaps a touch of megalomania. In recent times, it has been invoked by numerous conservative politicians who explain that God indicated to them that they had a greater calling; running for political office (usually the Presidency). In the case of Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, it appears to be an extension of her business plan. Recently, Lotz has been shouting MayDay! MayDay!, warning people that The Rapture is just around the corner.
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Religious Right's Pet Rabbi Accuses Liberals of Being Sexually Attracted to Muslim Extremists
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 26, 2015 at 09:53:42 AM EST
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, once a most-favored Rabbi of the Religious Right, has been out of the news cycle since the revelations that he was a close friend, and in a working relationship, with Jack Abramoff, the super-lobbyist who served time in federal prison for corruption. When you want to re-insert yourself into the good graces of the Religious Right, however, there's nothing better than appearing on the Family Research Council's "Washington Watch" program, where you can make some pretty loopy claims about liberals without being challenged.

Last month, with redemption certainly on his mind, Lapin offered up one of his golden oldies to the FRC radio audience, charging that there is a "sexual dimension" to how liberals relate to Islamic extremism.

"There are countless studies showing that feminine-type behavior produces an excess of estrogen in men and vice versa," Lapin said. "Essentially, the left has fallen in love with the masculinity of Islam."

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Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun May 17, 2015 at 07:47:45 AM EST
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts on this child abuse debacle.
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DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri May 15, 2015 at 02:28:33 PM EST
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last five years. The majority of the funding was in support of a Democratic state senator, Anthony H. Williams, who is a candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary for mayor of Philadelphia to be held on Tuesday, May 19. photo bush and williams at gala copy_zpsfmixikt6.jpg  While banking on Williams, AFC has quietly filed and begun to fund a new Pennsylvania political action committee (PAC) in preparation for their ongoing onslaught in the state.  Initial funding for the PAC has come directly from the DeVos family, the national leaders behind school privatization as well as major funders of the GOP and Religious Right causes. Thus far the only recipient is Williams.

[Photograph: Anthony H. Williams (left), Jeb Bush, and Kevin Chavous attend AFC's First Annual New York Gala on October 30, 2014.]

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Religious Right Rabbi: Christian Coalition Favorite Daniel Lapin Resurfaces
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed May 13, 2015 at 09:57:39 AM EST

Back in the 1990s when I was regularly covering the antics of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, one part of the job was particularly distasteful: listening to speeches by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Lapin headed a synagogue in Washington state and ran a small right-wing group called Toward Tradition, but he was best known for being the Religious Right's token Jewish supporter. Unlike "Messianic Jews" who are really just converts to evangelical Christianity who rip off Jewish rituals, Lapin, a South African expatriate, is actually Jewish. He was a regular speaker at the Christian Coalition's "Road to Victory" conferences, where his job was to convince attendees that real Jews love them some Religious Right.

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Abbott and Jade Helm 15
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue May 12, 2015 at 10:40:16 AM EST
The other day I stopped by Wal- Mart to pick up my medications.  Later on that day we heard a strange rumor that the super store was closing tomorrow.  Thinking it some strange gossip, few took it seriously until it hit the airways.  The store, with over 400 employees was closing until after Christmas.  The employees were not told until the day of the closing.  Rumor mills began waving all types of conspiracy banners.  One that gained a lot of momentum  was the idea this was connected with Jade Helm 15 and the store would be revamped to incarcerate Christians.
(7 comments, 604 words in story)
Christian Right leaders escalate anti-LGBTQ threats
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat May 09, 2015 at 10:55:47 PM EST
As marriage equality has advanced around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue in June, threatening language is escalating on the Christian Right.   If these culture warriors actually follow through with their threats, the story of our time may turn on terms like civil disobedience, martyrdom and even civil war.  The operative word here is, "if."

In recent years, we have repeatedly heard threats of civil disobedience from Christian Right Leaders - everyone from the signers of the historic, 2009 Manhattan Declaration (which included top Roman Catholic prelates and evangelical and organized Christian right leaders), to Rick Warren.

We have heard predictions of civil war, revolution, and martyrdom from the likes of Catholic thinker John McCloskey, theocratic evangelical intellectual Peter Leithart, and even Christian Right electoral activist David Lane.

We have also heard calls for political assassinations and secessionist civil war from White Southern Christian Nationalists, Michael Hill, David Whitney, and Michael Peroutka.

Most recently, some 200 Christian Right figures signed a renewed pledge of resistance to the anticipated Supreme Court decision favoring marriage equality.

At a press conference, they called this "A Bonhoeffer Moment in America." The reference is to the famous Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who resisted the Nazi regime and was hanged for his role in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler.

Bonhoeffer is increasingly invoked by Christian Right leaders as they compare the situation in the United States to Nazi Germany and cast him -- as they choose to define him -- as a role model for Christian Right resistance.

The new manifesto says that extending marriage to same-sex couples violates their religious freedom, and that they want to "respectfully warn the Supreme Court" that they would adhere to "higher law." Their language was (relatively) soft, but clear:  "Make no mistake about our resolve," they concluded, " ...this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross."

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Could Support for LGBTQ Rights Disrupt the Coalition of Jews and Evangelical Christian Zionists?
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat May 02, 2015 at 02:39:34 AM EST
Some might say that the relationship between the conservative US Jewish community and Evangelicals is inviolable, with support for Israel being the cement that forever binds the two. However, a number of controversial social issues could threaten to alter a relationship that has historically been replete with awkward, and not so secret Christian objectives.
(1 comment, 1075 words in story)
Whine Festival: Second-Tier Religious Right Leaders Still Don't Like Marriage Equality
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Apr 27, 2015 at 05:08:57 PM EST

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.

In preparation for this, a sad collection of Religious Right leaders trooped to the microphone at the National Press Club on Friday to denounce marriage equality - again.

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Whither the Christian Right in the Democratic Party?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Apr 25, 2015 at 05:51:11 PM EST
You don't have to be a Hillary hater (and I'm not) to recognize that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders have had long and -- sometimes disturbing -- relationships with elements of the Christian Right.  

From the origins of Charitable Choice and its offspring, the Faith Based Initiative, the diversion of federal dollars into creating an infrastructure for service delivery by conservative Christian groups is a long term, bipartisan (arguably transpartisan) project.  Bogus gestures such as the effort to find common ground on abortion and claims of neutrality on abortion in public policy that marked the early years of the Obama administration diverted attention from the administration's secretive efforts to inexplicably direct federal funds, particularly in foreign aid, to religious groups that were hostile to the administration's stated agenda.  

The list goes on, and fortunately, Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon.com, surfaces some of these contradictions in an essay titled Progressives can't trust Hillary Clinton: What's behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right?:  Clinton's mixed record on social and cultural issues might be explained by surprising views on faith and politics

Rosenberg's essay recounts the origins of some of the conservative Christian exceptions to federal laws and policies, how they have evolved, and the role Clinton has played in this. She is certainly not the only one, but she is the one who happens to be running for president.

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Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 02:44:34 PM EST
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a parish priest under his charge, has resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.
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Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 08:21:33 PM EST
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo ha.  

One is that people are getting it that religious freedom does not and must not equal the right to discriminate. The other is that people are also broadening and deepening their understanding of what they basically already know:  the Christian Right's view on these things is not shared by all of Christianity.

(2 comments, 926 words in story)
Gay Marriage Still Under Attack by Religious Right Zealots
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 08:00:04 AM EST
Dr. James Dobson is talking about a second "Civil War." Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action is calling it "a Bonhoeffer moment," a reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis. Other Christian leaders are complaining that gay activists are duping the masses.

As America awaits two and a half hours of oral argument at the Supreme Court set for the morning of Tuesday, April 28th, followed by its decision - likely in late June -- on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state, the Christian right's doom and gloom squad is coming out of the closet in droves. And they're bringing the type of unrestrained rhetoric not heard since, well, those heady days last month when Indiana and Arkansas were forced to temper their strict anti-gay "religious freedom" laws.

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Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 03:41:01 PM EST
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's why from time-to-time I revise and update this post.

From the earliest days of Talk to Action, we have written about how unfair labels and terms of demonization are not only inaccurate and opposed to basic standards of scholarship and journalism -- but conflict with the basic values of all people of good will. (They tend to be politically counterproductive as well.) The purpose of this post is not to go over all that again, but simply to highlight some useful resources on basic definitions and usage for those who are interested in trying to get it right.

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President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 10:33:29 PM EST
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In it, he cheered the Obama administration's recognition of the recent anti-LGBTQ legislative bigotry in Indiana. But Lynn's main purpose was to highlight the practice, which has existed since the Bush administration, of allowing federal contractors to discriminate on the basis of religion.  The practice, he says, is justified by a flawed 2007 analysis from the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department under president George W. Bush.  Lynn's organization and some seven dozen organizations have asked the president to rescind the Bush era memo as a basis for policy.

The letter's other signatories include the American Association of University Women, the ACLU, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFL-CIO), the American Jewish Committee, Hindu American Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, Muslim Advocates, Interfaith Alliance, the Council for Secular Humanism, Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP in and many more civil liberties watchdogs, women's rights groups and progressive religious organizations.

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