Meet the Frackers: Right-Wing Billionaire Brothers' Biblical Ambitions
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Sep 10, 2014 at 10:54:52 AM EST
A few years back, Forbes magazine called them "undercover billionaires." Meet Farris and Dan Wilks, who, after selling their fracking business and becoming generous donors to right-wing causes, politicians, and the Republican Party, are no longer "undercover." While claiming that Christians are under attack, the Wilks brothers' are "using the riches that the Lord has blessed" them with and are dedicating themselves to getting the Bible back in schools.

The brothers began by working in their father's masonry business, operating mostly in Oklahoma and Texas. In 1995, the brothers founded their own company called Wilks Masonry. However, they "really hit the big time when they got in on the ground floor with fracking, the controversial natural gas drilling technique that has boomed over the past decade," People for the American Way's Peter Montgomery recently pointed out in a report titled "The Wilks Brothers: Fracking Sugar Daddies For The Far Right."

(2 comments, 1094 words in story)
Deeper Background on Dominionism -- Revisisted
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 09:35:13 PM EST
In the Fall of 2011, there was an extraordinary -- and extraordinarily scurrilous -- wave of criticism aimed at those of us who had written about dominionism. Conservative columnists from The Washington Post, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among others, were deployed against a wide range of journalists, authors, bloggers and liberal Christian ministers and theologians.

That effort apparently stopped after several of us called the smear campaign what it was, and asked Jim Wallis -- who had joined in the frenzy -- to reconsider. He never replied, but the smear campaign stopped. But not before an aide to dominionist leader Peter Wagner, had called on his followers to pray that God "silence" us. Suffice to say it was a contentious and often confusing time.

Contributing to the confusion about dominionism has been the false assertion that that moderate and liberal Christians have been soft on dominionism. People who made that assertion, clearly had not been reading the work of Chip Berlet, who has not only been one of those who defined and popularized the term, but is an active progressive Christian and a contributor to the book I edited, Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America. They also clearly just not been reading about dominionism. Indeed, dominionism has been a concern of many Christian thinkers, two of whom authored detailed essays on the subject right here at Talk to Action. Their work is as relevant today as it was when it was written. So I am reposting a piece from September 04, 2011 that highlighted their work. (Some of the links may no longer be live, but there is more than enough here to make it worth the time.) -- FC

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Fall From Grace: What The Religious Right Should Learn From The McDonnell Scandal
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Sep 05, 2014 at 10:30:55 AM EST

Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we'll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?

That claim is looking a little thin in light of recent events in Virginia. Yesterday, Robert F. McDonnell, the state's former governor, was found guilty on 11 counts related to public corruption, conspiracy and bribery. His wife, Maureen, whom this "family values" politican tried willingly to throw under the bus, was found guilty on nine charges.

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A Visit To The Reality Community: Americans Have Sex. Americans Use Birth Control. Let's Move On.
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Sep 03, 2014 at 11:17:03 AM EST

Over the weekend, Americans United Senior Litigation Counsel Greg Lipper took part in a panel discussion about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision at a meeting of the American Political Science Association here in Washington, D.C.

This report by the Christian Post is worth a read. Reporter Napp Nazworth focuses mainly on the comments made by Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Tocqueville associate professor of religion and public life at the University of Notre Dame. Read his comments and be afraid - or simply amused. (Do note that this story gets one thing wrong. It reads as if Lipper compared opposition to birth control to racial segregation. Actually, he compared religious opposition to racial integration to the current religious opposition to LGBT integration.)

(3 comments, 1006 words in story)
Thomas DiLorenzo's Rebel Yelling
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 04:02:29 PM EST
I have written a great deal in the past few years about the odd phenomenon of Catholic Neo-Confederatism.  Let's add one more name to the pantheon.

Thomas DiLorenzo is a man of contradictions. He teaches university level economics yet he is best known as an avatar of Neo-Confederatism. He teaches at a Catholic university, but subscribes to economic views that have more in common with the libertarianism of Ayn Rand than anything in Catholic social teaching. He is also a leading loather of Abraham Lincoln and a contemporary advocate of nullification and secession -- two zombie ideas that are being resurrected as a means of religious oppression -- often in the name of religious liberty.

(2 comments, 931 words in story)
Censorship Challenge: Texas Pastor Seeks Restrictions On `Dangerous' Library Books
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 03:32:20 PM EST

Back in the 1990s, some Religious Right activists in Virginia got the bright idea to begin attacking America's public libraries. The idea was to demonize public libraries in the same way that public schools have been successfully demonized by fundamentalists in some parts of the country.

The effort, dubbed "Family Friendly Libraries," fell flat. Americans simply weren't interested in allowing a bunch of far-right Christian fundamentalists to determine what books they or their children could read.

(1 comment, 647 words in story)
Suspended St. Louis County Officer Dan Page Made Rounds on Rightwing Radio Shows
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 07:34:03 PM EST
St. Louis Police Officer Dan Page drew national attention when he shoved CNN's Don Lemon during a broadcast of the protests in Ferguson, and again, just a few days later, when a speech Page gave to the St. Charles/ St. Louis Oath Keepers emerged. That speech revealed his paranoid and conspiratorial worldview, but it wasn't a one-time event. Page has been making the rounds on rightwing radio and podcasts over the last several months, including an interview with Rick Wiles on TruNews, on the John Moore Radio Show, and on Caravan to Midnight with John B. Wells.  While it would be easy to dismiss these interviews as fringe, they represent a worldview that has been mainstreaming with the help of groups like the Oath Keepers, Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), Gun Owners of America (GOA), and the John Birch Society (JBS).

Following is a short video clip of one of the segments, the link to my recent PRA article on Dan Page, and the complete audio/video from the three interviews.

(1 comment, 392 words in story)
Cop Who Shoved CNN Host Don Lemon Lassoed in Another Conspiracy Rodeo
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 10:38:21 PM EST
Rachel Tabachnick broke an important story this evening showing that the rant by Officer Dan Page that got him suspended from the St.Louis County police force -- was not his first conspiracy rodeo.

The topic for a recent appearance on rightwing conspiracy radio TruNews was:

Retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major Dan Page tells Rick why he thinks 2015 is the start date for a series of actions to collapse the USA so that a global regime can emerge.

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Exile Excitement: Some Fundamentalists Seek Escape From Decadent Society
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 10:00:31 AM EST

OK, now we've done it. Those of us who advocate things like separation of church and state, secular government, LGBT rights and self-determination when it comes to issues of sexuality have really torqued off the Religious Right - so much so that some of them are thinking of going into exile.

Don't get too excited. It's not like they are going to flee en masse to some forgotten island or anything. Rather, some folks on the far, far right of the theological spectrum seem to be contemplating a type of "internal exile." They'd hole up in a fundamentalist denomination until this current age of wickedness blows over.

(2 comments, 879 words in story)
Controversy Over White Nationalist GOP Candidate Still White Hot
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 12:11:26 AM EST
The 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president Michael Peroutka's current race for County Council in Maryland -- as a Republican -- it is still one of the white hot political stories of the summer.  

In recent days, not only did Salon.com publish Paul Rosenberg's groundbreaking story about how Peroutka epitomizes the problem of race in the Republican Party, but The Baltimore Sun and the news site Maryland Reporter have already advanced it. The Sun followed-up on Salon's disclosure of a new PAC -- StopPeroutka.com.  Maryland Reporter further reported the names of the leading Democrats behind the innovative anti-Peroutka site.  The news site also ran a column about how the GOP has "a Peroutka problem."

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Race, Republicans and the Religious Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 11:07:03 PM EST
The Republicans have a race problem, and by this I don't just mean that racial minorities don't much vote for them, particularly in the age of Obama.  Rather that overtly racist figures are rising in prominence in the party. And as this takes place, party leaders are not handling it well.  

Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon.com has an extensive discussion of this as part of a wide context of how poorly we all deal with extreme political and religious views.

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Pope Francis' Meet Up With Two Controversial Religio-Preneurs
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Aug 14, 2014 at 12:26:13 PM EST
Not since Oscar hooked up with Felix in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" are we seeing such a seemingly unusual pairing. In late June, Pope Francis, a man who has expressed deep concern for the poor, the downtrodden, and issues of social inequality, met with two controversial televangelists who have rarely seemed interested in anything other than building their ministries into huge money-making empires.

Kenneth Copeland and James Robison, two extremely controversial and conservative televangelists and religio-preneurs, met with the Pope at the Vatican "in an effort to work toward tearing down the 'walls of division' between Catholics and Protestants," the Christian News Network recently reported.

(3 comments, 1140 words in story)
Rev. William Barber on Religious/Political Inclusiveness
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:49:40 PM EST
A few weeks ago, I posted about the extraordinary oration of Rev. William Barber at Netroots Nation. (A transcript of the speech is now available.) I said at the time I would have more to say about it, and I do.  Here is a little more. (More to come.)

Barber says that it is important to look to religious progressives to help to counter the Religious Right. And I couldn't agree more.

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Short Takes
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:56:03 PM EST
Salon.com  Columnist Thomas Frank considers how snark can cut more than one way.
What does it mean when being "on the left" is defined as being a fan of extremely partisan entertainment? What does it do to our larger political vision when we confine our political thinking to the crafting of hilarious put-downs of Tea Partiers and right-wing reality-doubters?

The answer is simple: We miss a substantial chunk of political reality ourselves.

Daily Kos  Denise Oliver Velez considers the candidacy of theocratic white nationalist Michael Peroutka for county council in Maryland and finds "There is Something Rotten in Anne Arundel County."

(1 comment)
David Brat as a "Libertarian Catholic" is an Oxymoron
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 09, 2014 at 09:39:52 AM EST
David Brat, the Tea Party Young Turk who recently shocked the GOP establishment with his primary win over Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is reportedly, a convert to Catholicism, but (one source has him affiliated with four different Virginia churches: St. Michael's Catholic, Christ Church Episcopal, Third Presbyterian, and Shady Grove Methodist.). If he has converted to Catholicism, it appears he may be hedging his bets.

But if he has indeed become Catholic, apparently he has not yet encountered the Church's social teachings. Brat is a vociferous proponent of libertarian economics, which is not only radically out of step with Church teaching on economics, but glaringly so in the age Pope Francis.

(2 comments, 1035 words in story)


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