On Christmas Day, in the Morning
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Dec 18, 2014 at 04:44:54 PM EST
In recent years at Christmastime, I have posted a response to the preposterous-but-malevolent claims broadcast on Fox News and elsewhere that there is a War on Christmas. Slightly revised and updated -- FC

Christmas has at least as many meanings as there are people, whether they celebrate the holiday or believe in any of the story, or not. It affects us all. There is hardly a more defining day in all of our culture, and it embraces the best and the worst of what we have become as a people.

In that regard, it is sad that the Religious Right and the dour propagandists at Fox News annually revive the repulsive anti-Semitic tradition begun by Henry Ford:  Falsely claiming that there is a War on Christmas.

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Hallelujah, Mike Huckabee, Hallelujah
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 11:11:31 PM EST
Fox News personality Mike Huckabee had a defining moment in the wake of the Newtown massacre. One that as we enter the 2016 presidential season, we should not forget. Its too bad that the original of the video at the end of this post is no longer available, but I found another. In any case, I think the rest of this re-post says what needs to be said. -- FC

When I was considering writing this post, at first I thought that too much had already been said about Mike Huckabee's comments on the Newtown massacre. But I now think that maybe there has been nowhere near enough.  

The horror affected most of us profoundly and all of us differently. Many of us, on reflection, encountered eternal questions about the meaning of life and death, and particularly, how such evil can happen.

The religious among us come from  many different traditions. But even the most orthodox among us know that whatever revelations God (or gods) may have provided us; and whatever our understanding of ancient texts may be, mysteries remain.  Many of us are not part of a religious tradition.  And those of us who look to science for answers may find that nothing we know, or think we know, explains everything. Especially about Newtown.  

And then there was Huckabee.

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Moses And Michele: Departing Member Of Congress Spreads More Misinformation
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 11:12:18 AM EST

The Religious Right's Moses fixation continues to grow.

As you might recall, the Texas State Board of Education recently demanded social studies textbooks that highlight the role Moses supposedly played in the founding of the United States. If that wasn't bad enough, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) recently decided to give a farewell address of the floor of the House of Representatives that focused largely on - you guessed it - the Old Testament patriarch.

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Christian Right Silent about Bob Jones U Sex Abuse Report
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 13, 2014 at 11:16:33 PM EST
One of the deep scandals of our time, and apparently times past, is that sex abuse, particularly of children, has been so tolerated and covered-up. What's more, it is clear that the problem is not limited to the Catholic Church, where the problem is of such extraordinary depth and breadth. It is deeply ingrained in more of society than most of us who were not affected by these things can easily believe. In the past year, I have written a bit about the difficulties the Southern Baptist Convention has had contending with its problems. (Here, here, and here.)

Now comes an investigative report on the ongoing scandal at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University, in Greenville, South Carolina, where Republican candidates for president used to have to make a pilgrimage as part of their courtship of voters in the South Carolina primary.

The report focused on how the college treated sexually abused women like criminals.

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Boot These Bigoted Bans: Movement Seeks To Remove Anti-Atheist Bias From State Constitutions
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 10:33:22 AM EST

Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things about God and religion before they can be elected.

These provisions can't be enforced. They were declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1961 ruling in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins. Yet they linger on, a testament to the bigotry of bygone days.

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James Madison and Tax-Supported Chaplains
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Dec 06, 2014 at 05:37:53 PM EST
In light of former Sen. Rick Santorum's recent silly declaration that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours” -- it seems like a good moment to to repost Chris Rodda's classic discussion of some of the complications and distortions of history regarding separation of church and state. -- FC

Author Chris Rodda explores historical background to church/state separation, especially in relation to the work of Christian Embassy (link to Talk To Action coverage). The original controversial Christian Embassy promotional video, along with further coverage, can be found at the Jews On First website ]

When my first article appeared last week, I didn't get a chance to introduce myself, so I'd like to do that now, and also to thank Bruce Wilson for inviting me to contribute here at Talk to Action. I am the author of a book called Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, Volume 1. This is the first of what will be a three volume series of books, two on the religious right history lies related to the founding era, and an eventual third volume on the church/state separation battles of the nineteenth century. Free sample chapter PDF

Of the three things listed in the line at the top of the page - "Reclaiming Citizenship, History and Faith" - my focus will be on the reclaiming history part, bringing attention to the historical misconceptions and revisionism that go hand in hand with many of the current issues being covered by others here. So, while Frederick Clarkson, in his recent article When Mainstream Media Miss the Point, brings up The Christmas Wars: Religion in the American Public Square, a discussion presented by the Pew Center on Religion and Public Life, to point out the evasion by the panelists of a reporter's question about the current issue of the Christian Embassy, I'm going take a look at a few of the historical inaccuracies that I noticed while reading the transcript of this event. These inaccuracies came from both panelists, Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, and Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek and author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. I will address those from Novak in a separate article, but want to begin with one from Meacham regarding James Madison's opinion on tax-supported chaplains, the most relevant to the issue of the Christian Embassy.

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A Short History of the Right's 100 Years of Touting a 'War on Christmas'
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Dec 05, 2014 at 11:18:36 AM EST
It may be surprising to learn that America's twenty-first century "War on Christmas" - spearheaded by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the ultra-conservative American Family Association -- has as its antecedents the anti-Semitic ravings of industrialist Henry Ford, the right-wing conspiracy mongering of the John Birch Society, and the anti-immigration blustering of Peter Brimelow.
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Death to Obama; Death to "Homos"; What's Next?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 03, 2014 at 09:53:45 PM EST
When the Obama administration was young, threats against the president were common, and sometimes quite public. One notorious such incident was that of Rev. Steven L. Anderson of Tempe, Arizona, who in 2009 not only repeatedly asked his parishioners to pray that God take out the president, but also encouraged a member of his congregation to openly carry an automatic weapon outside the arena where the president was speaking in Phoenix.  

Unsurprisingly, Anderson is back in the news -- this time calling AIDS a judgement from God and that the cure is to execute gay people as he said God called for in the Book of Leviticus.

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Rick Scarborough's America
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 03, 2014 at 12:14:17 PM EST
When Stand Up Sunday was convened by Mike Huckabee in Houston it was to feature the leading spokesmen for the Religious Right agenda.  The meeting ended with the keynote presentation from former area pastor Rick Scarborough.  Rick followed the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and famous area pastor Ed Young on the platform.  He was the obvious choice to draw the apparent conclusions and drive home the motivation to carry out the agenda of the group.  Updating what Rick believes about the nation is important for those who follow this national cultural event.  At the meeting in Houston Rick passed out several books about what he holds as American historical truths.  Readers might be interested in what he wrote.
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Unsuccessful Maneuvers: Ex-Navy Chaplain's Latest Lawsuit Fails
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 01, 2014 at 04:19:17 PM EST

For the past few years, Americans United has been sparring on and off with a former Navy chaplain named Gordon James Klingenschmitt.

Klingenschmitt first came to our attention when he insisted that he had a right to pray in Jesus' name at official events, even though his superiors had urged him to use more inclusive invocations.

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The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Nov 29, 2014 at 08:51:12 PM EST
I don't usually write directly about electoral politics, but sometimes I bring an outsider's perspective to how the inside looks to some of the rest of us.  Let's consider the major story in today's New York Times that ought to be required reading for those looking for lessons from the 2014 elections -- including a key point about the continuing political power of the Religious Right.


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American Christian Right Leaders in Rome
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 10:42:15 PM EST
The remarkable and growing alliance between conservative Catholicism and protestant evangelicalism was on prominent display at a recent event at the Vatican. My colleague at Political Research Associates Cole Parke, reported that the conference, the  "Humanum: An Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman" featured "similar themes and many of the same faces [as the 2009 American Christian Right manifesto, The Manhattan Declaration] further solidifying the conservative Catholic-Protestant alliance against LGBTQ people and reproductive justice."
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From Ford to O'Reilly; From the John Birch Society to the AFA; Welcome to the 'War on Christmas'
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 11:23:28 AM EST
The "War on Christmas" is becoming as American as police shootings of unarmed Black men, drones striking weddings in Afghanistan and the revolving door at the Defense Department. While Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the American Family Association may be some of the 21st century's chief promulgators of the "War on Christmas," interestingly enough, it was the far-right John Birch Society that followed in the footsteps of Henry Ford, who, Daniel Denvir wrote in Politico last year, "was an avid proponent of the idea that someone - or more precisely, some group - was waging a war on Christmas."
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Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 10:23:52 PM EST
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC

Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism

Senior Fellow, Political Research Associates

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." That vision of history's progression has been well illustrated by the past year's landslide of advances for marriage equality.  And as we move closer to a more just society, the nature of the opposition is revealed in the nature of the backlash.

The Christian Right has been operating on multiple fronts to stop--or at least limit--the scope of the advance of marriage equality, including seeking to enable business owners, civil workers, and elected officials to openly discriminate against LGBTQ couples by co-opting the progressive principle of religious liberty.  

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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.
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