Short Takes
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 12:47:03 AM EST
Pando Daily:  Journalist Mark Ames has published a must-read story about how Reason,the flagship magazine of libertarianism, published a special issue in 1976 promoting Holocaust denial -- including a horrific essay by Gary North, best known as one of the godfathers of Christian Reconstructionism. Many of those involved with the publication of the Holocaust revisionism issue are still involved in the magazine, including the Koch family, which has been a major funder. As for Reason, the current editors are in denial.

Baltimore City Paper:  Journalist Van Smith analyzes the politics of theocratic, white nationalist Michael Peroutka's run as a Republican for Anne Aurndel County Council in Maryland. Peroutka was the 2004 presidential candidate of the Constitution Party and is a longtime leader in the League of the South.

Peroutka has now hit on a more pragmatic approach: run for something winnable, like a local race where the outcome is relatively malleable for someone like Peroutka, whose fundraising capabilities are virtually limitless within the usual legal constraints. He has almost a quarter-million dollars in his campaign chest as of late June, and surely much more has come in since. Top supporters include Roy Moore, the Bible-thumping chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court who believes the separation of church and state is an attack on Christianity and to whom Peroutka has dedicated a field and monument at his 40-acre Prince George's County property called Gladway Farm; prominent Christian evangelical lawyers William Olson and Herbert Titus, a former Constitution Party vice-presidential candidate; and ex-con Franklin Sanders, a Tennessee metals-trader with secessionist sympathies.
Ukraine Under Siege by the Religious Right
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 01:05:24 PM EST
The World Congress of Families, an anti-gay Religious Right operation with an international focus, had been planning to hold "World Congress of Families VIII - the Moscow Congress" in Russia in September. According to a WCF Press Release, the conference has been suspended because of the  
"situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) [which] has raised questions about travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII." The "situation" in Ukraine, however, isn't scaring off numerous Religious Right leaders from visiting Ukraine and pitching their wares.

A conservative friend (even after all these years of writing about conservatives and right-wing movements, I still have some conservative friends!) recently asked me why I was writing about the Christian Right burrowing into Ukraine when there are so many other important stories to tell. I told him that, "The purpose is to provide some sort of an early warning so what is happening to LGBT communities in Uganda, Russia, and other countries does not happen in Ukraine. While I am well aware of the toxic attitudes and murderous actions of Radical Islamists towards homosexuals, it is also clear that the mainstream press in this country waited far too long before reporting on the situation in Uganda and the Religious Right's involvement. I am hoping that same situation doesn't play itself out in Ukraine as well.

(4 comments, 1039 words in story)
GOP Leader Questions Candidate About Hate Group That Advocates Death Squads - Updated
jhutson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 01:50:09 AM EST
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

The head of Maryland's Republican Party, Joe Cluster, has called local candidate Michael Peroutka to the woodshed for a "clarification" about his involvement with a high-­profile, white nationalist hate group. At least that's what Cluster thinks the subject of their July 25 meeting will be.

But wait until he reads this.

(3 comments, 895 words in story)
Short Takes
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 05:39:46 PM EST
Bilgrimage:  Bill Lindsey discusses "an outstanding series of articles" by Frank Cocozzelli here at Talk to Action, originally posted in 2007, about the close ties of some of the Catholic members of the U.S. Supreme Court, "to the ultra-secretive, wealthy, and very influential right-wing Catholic movement Opus Dei."

The Hill:  "Religious liberty belongs to everyone, not just the religious right" is the title of an op-ed I co-authored with Tarso Luis Ramos.  

The religious right's effort is not limited... to the courts or even to abortion and contraceptives. Earlier this year, conservative legislators in Arizona passed SB 1062, the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which would have allowed private business owners to refuse services to LGBTQ customers by claiming a "sincerely held religious belief." The Act was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer; just one month later, however, the Mississippi legislature passed a nearly identical bill that was quickly signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant. Similar legislative proposals are advancing in several other states....  If a business enterprise's "religious belief" can be used to justify discrimination in one thing, why not other things?

RH Reality Check:  Andrea Grimes wisely points out that it is long past time for progressives to stop using counter-productive terms like "American Taliban."  

There's no need to try and incite fear that right-wing lawmakers are going to turn America into an extremist Islamic theocracy when they're doing just fine turning it into an extremist Christian theocracy. The answer to countering right-wing attacks on Americans.... isn't to create a turban-wearing bogeyman looming half a world away, but to look at what's happening right here in our own country, in our own statehouses, at our own national capitol.
(3 comments)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 1)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 04:29:57 PM EST
In light of the recent US Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby -- which exempts, closely held corporations that invoke "sincerely held religious beliefs" from a preventive health care provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). Hobby Lobby, whose owners are major bankrollers of the Religious Right, objected to the requirement that employees insurance packages provide birth control for women. I am reposting three related pieces (see below) from a few years ago regarding the five conservative Catholic justices on the High Court -- sometimes called “the Catholic Five.” In these posts, I focus on the influence of Opus Dei. -- Frank Cocozzelli

Re "A Sharp Turn for the Supreme Court on Abortion" :

I am a rheumatologist caring for a patient whose lupus nephritis is flaring. Her creatinine is rising as her platelet count falls, and she has failed to improve with pulse methylprednisolone and intravenous cyclophosphamide. I am contemplating using rituximab. I would like to refer this case to the United States Supreme Court for its guidance.      
                          -Letter to Editor, New York Times, printed, April 24, 2007

The following is the first installment of a three part sub-series regarding the influence of non-mainstream, ultra-traditional Catholics now sitting on the US Supreme Court.

(4 comments, 2518 words in story)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 2)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 04:27:23 PM EST
The following is the second installment of a three part sub-series regarding the influence of non-mainstream, ultra-traditional Catholics now sitting on the US Supreme Court and federal judiciary.

"Opus Dei is very good at going to people of influence and promoting their own agenda. And sometimes these people don't even know they're doing Opus Dei's bidding."

That happens as well at the level of the "co-operators," she says, who are described as "supporters" of Opus Dei's work. "Define what 'support' means," she says. "You have to ask them very specific questions to get any real answers. I think Opus Dei uses the co-operators for its agenda, and they ask them for money. I talked with one man, a former co-operator, who told me he finally saw through it, and it just turned him off."
                           --Dianne DiNicola, Opus Dei Awareness Network


(4 comments, 1965 words in story)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 3)
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 04:26:52 PM EST
"The reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should not be resignation to it, but the resolution to combat it as effectively as possible."--Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, God's Justice and Ours'
(8 comments, 1763 words in story)
Access Denied: The Religious Right Opens Up A New Front On Its War Against Birth Control
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:57:41 AM EST

Some commentators continue to insist that the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores was no big deal. It's a narrow ruling, they insist, and there are other ways to ensure that women can get access to birth control.

Birth control is a vital component of women's health, and I find it disturbing that so many people are blithely dismissing a high court ruling that has the potential to curtail access to millions of women. Yes, generic birth control pills are cheap, but not all women can use generics. In fact, not all women can or want to use birth control pills. Other options, such as IUDs, sterilizing operations and cervical caps, tend to be more expensive.

(803 words in story)
William Barber Takes Us to Church at Netroots Nation
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jul 20, 2014 at 12:53:28 AM EST
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the leader of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina gave a rousing, perhaps historic keynote speech at Netroots Nation.  Part of what makes it so remarkable is that he was featured at all -- and in that sense it may be a turning point for the liberal/left and the Democratic Party.

It was not so long ago that a pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ rights religious leader who favors separation of church & state would not have been given such a platform, let alone the many lesser platforms from which they were quietly excluded. Indeed, a few years ago, many of the 22 authors of a book I edited, Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America, were marginalized because of their approaches to social justice.   In fact, the book was published partly in response to what I called at the time, creeping Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party. I told one contributor who had experienced marginalization that I was offering a platform.

This marginalization was of a piece with a certain mad pursuit of, and pandering to white evangelicals and anti-abortion Catholics who were deemed to be "gettable" by elements of the Democratic Party.  Those elements were willing to downplay or negotiate away the civil and human rights of others (see here and here, for example). Some went to far as to try to silence religious progressives who disagreed.

Those were extraordinary times. But this is a new day -- or at least I would like to think that it is. I would also like to think that the emergence of Barber as a national figure signals a trend. Time will tell.

(1 comment, 656 words in story)
Will Ukraine Be the Christian Right's Next Anti-Gay Battleground?
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 12:49:12 PM EST
There is no contesting the fact that high-profile religious right leaders from the United States helped set the table for Uganda's appalling anti-gay laws. Now, emboldened by "victories" in Uganda and the prospect for further discriminatory legislation in other African countries, and Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws in Russia, some elements of the religious right appear to be setting their sights on Ukraine.

Last summer, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued a report titled "Dangerous Liaisons: The American Religious Right & the Criminalization of Homosexuality in Belize." Although the report focused on a dangerous situation for the LGBT community in Belize, Heidi Beirich, the author of the report and director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, offered an overview: "Many ... American religious-right groups know they have lost the battle against LGBT rights in the United States, ... they're now aiding and abetting anti-LGBT forces in countries where anti-gay violence is prevalent. These groups are pouring fuel on an exceedingly volatile fire."

(2 comments, 1115 words in story)
Hobby Lobby Case Linked To Secretive National Prayer Breakfast Group, "The Family"¯
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 07:17:07 AM EST
As I introduce my new Center Against Religious Extremism report Hobby Lobby Case Linked To Secretive National Prayer Breakfast Group, "The Family"),
In 2010 on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, author Jeff Sharlet publicly accused "The Family", which hosts the National Prayer Breakfast, of being directly responsible for the notorious Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill, signed into law in early 2014. As this Center Against Religious Extremism (CARE) special report demonstrates, The Family is also tightly linked, through its affiliate The Gathering, to the controversial Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case which gave broad new religious freedom rights to private corporations.
(2 comments, 1601 words in story)
Lessons in Taking the Long View in the Long Form
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 11:26:56 PM EST
Historian Leo P. Ribuffo recently published a wise and erudite essay at History News Network. In it he discusses trends among historians regarding how to approach foreign affairs and religion generally (something he says has become fashionable) and some trends regarding the role of conservative Catholicism and evangelicalism in particular.  It is a refreshing summertime read -- a long form essay, taking the long view: undistracted by the heat of the political and religious moment and perhaps more importantly, unemcumbered by the distortions of self-interested political and religious factions.  
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Missing Pieces of the Story of Sun Myung Moon
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 08:12:29 PM EST
The recent coverage of the life and death of Richard Mellon Scaife, a transformational figure in recent American history, was pretty underwhelming. (Fortunately, our own Bill Berkowitz provided some alternative critical perspectives.) The situation was reminiscent of the truly horrible coverage of the life and death of Sun Myung Moon two years ago. It is worth recalling how quickly we forget. -- FC

The reporting and punditry in the wake of the death of Sun Myung Moon left a lot to be desired. Even long, seemingly comprehensive treatments of Moon's life and empire, such as the one that ran in The New York Times, did not delve deeply into Moon's profound far right and criminal involvements; antidemocratic politics; or even the mysterious sources of foreign cash for The Washington Times, and extensive political operations in the U.S. for decades, let alone the Moon organization's broad, insidious affects on American culture and democracy. There has also been some embarrassingly credulous material published about the nature of life in the Church itself, and some odd, unsubstantiated pooh poohery about the problem of cultism.  

Of course, history lives, despite the best efforts of some of us not to notice.

(5 comments, 1526 words in story)
When I Won One Over My Old (Former) Friend Jerry Falwell
JerrySloan printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 03:32:52 AM EST
July 13th was the anniversary of our friend Jerry Sloan's confrontation on live television with Moral Majority founder, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. This confrontation set into motion a lawsuit and the eventual establishment of the Lambda Community Center (renamed the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Community Center) in Sacramento and from the opening of the center, many other Sacramento LGTB organizations.

As we have in years past, we are posting Jerry's remarkable and heartening story. It is important to celebrate and remember victories. -- FC

Although it happened over 20 years ago almost everywhere I go people still ask me to tell them about my confrontation and lawsuit with my former Baptist Bible College schoolmate, Jerry Falwell.

Falwell, in the height of his Moral Majority days, was in San Francisco the week prior to the 1984 Democratic National Convention, to harass the Democrats and the fairies of San Francisco.

On Friday, July 13, he flew up to Sacramento to appear on a local live morning show, "Look Who's Talking." The producer, knew I had gone to Baptist Bible College with Falwell invited me to be in the audience and gave me a bunch of tickets for my friends.

(1 comment, 1966 words in story)
Vatican Defrocks A Bishop Over Sexual Abuse - But Not Finn.
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 09:41:38 AM EST
Pope Francis recently indicated he is serious about ending child sex abuse and cover-ups by Catholic prelates by defrocking a former apostolic nuncio (a nuncio is essentially a high level Vatican diplomat) for having sexual relations with young boys.

But while the Holy See should be applauded for this decisive action, there is unfinished business with the bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. And the bishop in question is Robert Finn a darling of the American Catholic Right who have very little to say - at least now that he is a convicted criminal.

(2 comments, 604 words in story)


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