A Plethora Of Pulpit Politicking Problems?: Far-Right Pastors Prepare For Electoral Bids
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 14, 2015 at 11:15:20 AM EST

The state of Tennessee used to have a law that banned members of the clergy from running for public office. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 rightfully declared this provision unconstitutional.

In the United States, pretty much all adults, with very few exceptions, have the right to run for public office. I wouldn't have it any other way. If democracy means anything, it means the right to choose our own leaders. Disqualifying people from the ballot because of their race, gender or religious beliefs is un-American.

(3 comments, 766 words in story)
Trump: An Apocalyptic Messenger for the Christian Right
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Dec 10, 2015 at 02:23:29 PM EST
We stand in the overflow crowd of some 300 in the small town of Tyngsborough near the New Hampshire border. Several thousand people are inside a local elementary school. The crowd is excited. Here is Donald Trump in Massachusetts in October of 2015. "Why do they always say a Republican can't win in Massachusetts?" we hear Trump say over the loudspeakers set up outside the school.

One woman we meet at the Massachusetts Trump Rally is Joan. A mature White woman who works three jobs to make ends meet. Joan believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and warns that the United States will soon be judged because events in Israel reveal that we are in the seven-year countdown to the apocalypse and Armageddon.

(3 comments, 962 words in story)
Trump's Demagoguery Threatens Democracy Itself
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 09, 2015 at 12:57:18 PM EST
Now is the time for blunt talk. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue generating "scripted violence." Trumpism threatens not just the First Amendment but democracy itself. I call him a right-wing populist using fascistic rhetoric to target scapegoated groups. Other journalists and scholars have dubbed him a fascist or a totalitarian. But we all smell the stench of the burning bodies. So let us have our terminological debates, but setting aside all intellectual disagreements, as citizens of an increasingly unfree society, we must stand up and speak out.

The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, and that includes the right to call religion ridiculous. It protects devout Roman Catholics and those in the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster--even those who sometimes wear colanders as hats. Here at Talk to Action we are nonpartisan, welcome respectful contributions discussing human, civil, and constitutional rights, and find debates between theists and atheists annoying (no trolls blasting either are allowed). Democracy is what we cherish...and it is in trouble.

(3 comments, 669 words in story)
Irony Implosion: Pat Robertson Opposes Politics Masquerading As Religion
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 09, 2015 at 10:53:45 AM EST

TV preacher Pat Robertson and I go way back. In 1996, I wrote a book about him, and I've followed his career since.

I long ago concluded that no one can track every zany thing the oracle of Virginia Beach spouts. Doing that would be a full-time job, and I have other things to do.

(1 comment, 913 words in story)
Armed And Dangerous?: Falwell Suggests That LU Students Get Guns To Fend Off `Those Muslims'
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Dec 07, 2015 at 10:36:38 AM EST

I sometimes help out with logistics when Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn is traveling for a speech or a debate. I'm used to people asking me what hotel chains Barry prefers or what he likes to eat, but in September when Barry was debating Religious Right attorney Mat Staver at Liberty University, I got a question I hadn't heard before: The folks at Liberty wanted to know if Barry or anyone traveling with him would be armed. The school had no objection to Barry or anyone in his party carrying a concealed weapon, they just wanted to know beforehand.

I'll admit I was a little taken aback. I guess I shouldn't have been. Nor am I surprised by recent comments by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who has recommended that students at the school carry concealed weapons so "we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill."

(4 comments, 598 words in story)
Terror At Planned Parenthood: Facing The Consequences Of The Far Right's Lies
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 30, 2015 at 11:16:42 AM EST

In the wake of Friday's horrific shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, we're hearing calls to deescalate the rhetoric around the issue of abortion.

The implication is that both sides are reaching for rhetorical excess. The problem with this claim is that it's demonstrably untrue.

(3 comments, 582 words in story)
Progressives Are Taking Up Religious Freedom Day
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 26, 2015 at 08:34:59 PM EST
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don't see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does -- and they do not like what they see. The Christian Right has made religious freedom the ideological phalanx of its current campaigns in the culture wars. Religious freedom is now invoked as a way of seeking to derail access to reproductive health services as well as equality for LGBTQ people. But history provides little comfort for the theocratic visions of the Christian Right.

The first national Day of the New Year will be one that most of us have never heard of. Authorized by Congress in 1992, Religious Freedom Day has been recognized every January 16th by an annual presidential
proclamation commemorating the enactment of the  Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786.

This seemingly obscure piece of Revolutionary-era legislation is so integral to our history that Thomas Jefferson asked that his tombstone recognize that he was the author of the bill, along with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia as one of the three things for which he wished to be remembered.

It is worth taking a moment to understand why Jefferson thought it was that important.

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GOP and Right-Wing Evangelicals Face Off Against Jesus over Syrian Refugees
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 25, 2015 at 11:22:12 AM EST
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and wounded hundreds of others, a number of major conservative Christian evangelical groups have joined 27-+ governors, and Republican Party presidential hopefuls, in demanding that President Obama shut the borders to refugees from Syria, the majority of which are women and children. While Donald Trump's anti-immigrant sound bites are feeding the frenzy against the refugees, and Senator Ted Cruz and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush have called for allowing only Christian refugees into the country, conservative evangelical Christians are finding themselves doing battle with some mainstream Christian organizations supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
(2 comments, 1297 words in story)
Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 23, 2015 at 12:06:00 PM EST

Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and expand an Islamic center where they have been worshipping for 15 years.

What should have been a routine matter of zoning turned ugly when two men in the audience began hurling insults.

(2 comments, 1080 words in story)
Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 22, 2015 at 04:28:27 PM EST
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and the increasing electoral hegemony of the Republican Party, where the Christian Right plays a major role. -- FC

Recently, journalist Matthew Yglesias published an influential article in which he points out that currently, “70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state – are in Republican hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress.”

While Republicans have done all this, he observes, “Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot.” The failure to develop an effective electoral response to the growing influence of the Right is especially remarkable because journalists and other political observers have seen the situation developing for years. Republicans have control of the legislative and executive branch in 25 states, making erosions of reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and labor rights likely, and reforms and advances, unlikely. And yet, there is a remarkable degree of denialism of the seriousness and magnitude of the problem.

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Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 20, 2015 at 09:55:49 AM EST

If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for the 2015 holiday season.

Just kidding. I haven't been awaiting the release of this list - and I suspect you haven't either - but the AFA sent it to me earlier this week, so let's take a look at it, shall we?

(3 comments, 840 words in story)
U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 18, 2015 at 09:57:37 AM EST

According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built the pyramids to store grain.

Not far behind Carson (or leading him, other polls say) is Donald Trump, a millionaire real estate developer whose platform consists mainly of insults delivered while he waves his arms and screams.

(5 comments, 606 words in story)
Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 16, 2015 at 02:41:00 PM EST

Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front Lawn of the Capitol. Among the participants will be U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who once famously quizzed AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn about hell during a congressional hearing.

So what is the Aitken Bible, and what are people reading from it? As it turns out, this Bible has been the subject of much bad history from the Religious Right. It's important to set the record straight.

(2 comments, 841 words in story)
The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Nov 15, 2015 at 07:04:32 PM EST
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the nation dedicated in memory to one person.  Houston was baptized in a tributary to the Brazos River by a Baptist minister.  The Baptist minister did not understand Baptist doctrine and after baptizing Houston asked how it felt to have his sins washed away.  Houston looked at the preacher  and replied that if his sins were just washed away, "Lord help the fish that swim downstream."
(2 comments, 661 words in story)
Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 11, 2015 at 10:19:52 AM EST

In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it because they wanted a place to hold sunrise services on Easter. Once erected, the huge cross was dedicated to "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" during a Christian service.

As time went by, some people began to question whether it was appropriate to display a towering symbol of Christianity on government-owned land, and in 1989 a lawsuit was filed.

(8 comments, 714 words in story)

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