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“Anti-LGBT ‘Minister’ Franklin Graham Hates For Jesus”: Denigrating A Faith To Further His Own Agenda

My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!

I often think of this famed passage from the New Testament when I hear hate spewed by so-called Christian ministers. This Bible story in Matthew explains how Jesus observed that some had denigrated a house of worship, causing him to flip over the tables of the “money lenders” and others selling wares.

Franklin Graham’s stoking the flames of hate against a minority group in America over the past few days has again brought this Bible verse to mind. Not that Graham is a “thief” but because he, too, is denigrating a faith to further his own agenda.

Graham announced last Friday that he was pulling the $128 million account for his nonprofit organization, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, out of Wells Fargo bank. (It’s truly astounding that it has that much money in the bank—you would think that the Christian thing to do is spend at least a few million on those in need.)

So why did Graham pull this huge sum of money from Wells Fargo? Did bank executives burn down a church or sponsor an abortion-a-thon? Nope. The bank simply ran an ad that featured a lesbian couple.

This really outraged Graham. So in a moment of What Would Jesus Not Do, he posted on Facebook, “Have you ever asked yourself: How can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?” Graham’s answer: Don’t do business with Wells Fargo.

And then on Monday, Graham took to the airwaves of the Family Research Council’s radio program to call on other Christians to follow his lead and boycott any business that “promotes the gay lifestyle,” including Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Tiffany’s, and Nike. (Interestingly ISIS also recently banned Nike again proving that religious radicals share much common ground.)

Not content to simply advocate a boycott, Graham added during his radio appearance that “practicing” gays and lesbians, if accepted by Christian churches, will not only destroy the church in our nation, but also hasten the end of times. (Not sure what defines a “practicing” gay in Graham’s mind but I bet he’s pictured it.)

But Graham’s demonization of the LGBT community is nothing new. For example, last year he publicly applauded Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s horrific anti-gay laws, stating that the Russian president “has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

And Graham has often sought to stir up hate against LGBT community members who want to adopt children by warning that this was their was way to “recruit” children to be gay. He also supports discrimination against gay teens from being able to join the Boy Scouts.

Let’s be clear. Graham’s anti-LGBT words, including his new call for a boycott of Wells Fargo, is not just about opposing marriage equality. It is more than that. He doesn’t want gays and lesbians to be viewed as typical Americans with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. Instead he wants Americans to view them and their “agenda” as a threat to our nation. He wants them to be shunned, vilified, and marginalized. (Much the same way he has demonized Muslims, even warning that Muslim Americans in our government are in essence are a threat to Christians.)

And worse, in my view, Graham’s words have radicalized other good Christians. Just this weekend we saw a conservative Christian member of the Arkansas legislature lash out against a local gay-pride parade using words very similar to Graham’s. Arkansas GOP State Senator Jason Rapert objected to the 12th-annual gay-pride parade in his part of the state, claiming it was “truly one of the most offensive public displays against Christians you will find anywhere.” And as if channeling Graham, he added that the organizers specifically chose to hold the parade on a Sunday in order “to try and intimidate people who believe in the Word of God.”

It would, however, be unfair to say Graham is the only evangelical leader spewing hate in the name of Jesus. There’s a veritable league of extraordinary haters including, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association and more. They justify hate in the name of Jesus, a person who instructed his followers to love one another.

My prediction is that the shrillness of the attacks by Graham and his ilk toward the LGBT community will escalate as same-sex marriage becomes even more accepted. And if the Supreme Court decides later this month that marriage equality is the law of the land, don’t expect them to accept this defeat quietly. Instead, expect an increased dose of fear mongering, a push for even more onerous “religious liberty” laws, and even organizing support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Look, there’s nothing anyone can say to stop their hate mongering. But there’s a consequence. No, I’m not talking anyone’s soul burning in eternal hell fire.

Polls shows younger Americans are moving away from organized religion. While there are various factors for this, one-third of millennials polled last year indicated they had left their religion because of “negative teachings” about gays and lesbians.

So bottom line is that Franklin Graham can continue spew all the hate he wants but it will be to an increasingly smaller flock. And hopefully one day we will see some younger evangelical leader truly following the teachings of Jesus and call out Graham for turning a “house of prayer” into a house of hate.

Oh, and there’s another bottom line. The joke’s on Graham because the bank he transferred the money to, BB&T, has a longstanding association with Miami Gay Pride. It looks like it’s just a matter of time until the only place Graham has left to deposit his money is in his own mattress.


By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, June 11, 2015

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, Franklin Graham, LGBT | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Mike Huckabee’s Confused Morality”: White Privilege And The Limits Of Public Forgiveness

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks in Iowa in April. The GOP presidential candidate was quick to voice his support for Josh Duggar, who this past week admitted to having molested children while a teenager.

In America, public forgiveness is largely dependent on race. In the weeks after Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, pundits and media outlets were quick to jump on a robbery Brown allegedly committed minutes before being fatally shot. Among them was 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who told NewsMax TV, “It’s a horrible thing that he was killed, but he could have avoided that if he’d have behaved like something other than a thug.” For Huckabee, (alleged) theft was grounds for death.

That is, if you look a certain way. Contrast these statements with Huckabee’s recent defense of reality TV regular Josh Duggar, who admitted last week to having molested young girls as a teenager in 2002 and 2003. The 27-year-old son of Jim Bob and Michelle, Josh Duggar is a star of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, and was executive director of the Family Research Council—a right-wing organization that prides itself on family values—until last week after news of his crimes went public. TLC quickly pulled episodes from their line-up.

After the story broke, Huckabee wasted no time. “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family,” he posted to Facebook less than a day after Duggar went public. “Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

Huckabee’s sentiment was echoed by Duggar’s parents and wife, who together released a statement on Facebook on May 21. The word “teen” was used four times and “mistake” was used three. Not long after, fans of 19 Kids and Counting went to the Duggar family Facebook page to voice their support for the admitted sexual abuser. But the statement of support from Huckabee, who has been close with the Duggars since they endorsed and campaigned for his 2008 presidential bid, was the strongest. Sexual abuse may be a crime, yet for a straight, white, Christian man, it seems sympathy has no bounds.

And if you fall outside of these categories, forgiveness only goes so far. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Sanford, Florida, when victims of police violence make headlines, major media scurry to dig up the often petty mistakes of their past. How many times was Trayvon Martin called a “thug”? Before his family could even bury his body, The New York Times declared that Michael Brown was “no angel.” Even 12-year-old Tamir Rice was smeared for having an abusive father. For daring to be black and exist, their names were tarnished by white America, even in death. 

But if as a teenager you molested children, even presidential candidates will give you a pass—at least, if you’re white and male.

And, it seems, even if your crimes include a cover-up. According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar knew their son had committed these crimes. They met with church members and sent Duggar off to help a friend remodel homes—their version of counseling. They believed that this was the help their family needed. Who knows what kind of help the victims were offered—stories like these are tragic and my heart aches for the victims, who will hopefully receive any help that they want or need. For Duggar’s part, aside from his career, he’s pretty much off the hook: Arkansas law mandates child sexual abuse charges be filed within three years (Duggar’s crimes were committed in his home state of Arkansas). With charges never filed, Duggar will face no prosecution.

Of course the same is not true for millions of black Americans, who routinely face prosecution, violence, and even death at the hands of police for often minor or nonexistent crimes. Adding to this confused morality, in January, Huckabee criticized Barack and Michelle Obama for letting their teenage daughters listen to pop juggernaut Beyoncé, calling her music mental poison. If you are keeping score, listening to Beyoncé: bad parenting. Sexual abuse: forgivable.

When you’re straight, white, Christian, and male, even horrific crimes can be forgiven. When you’re a black teenager who has been accused of shoplifting, you’re a thug—your life has no value. White privilege is being a sexual abuser and finding more support than a 12-year-old shot by police while playing in a park.


By: Nathalie Baptiste, The American Prospect, May 28, 2015

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Josh Duggar, Mike Huckabee, Sexual Asault | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oh, Please!”: Roy Moore Wants Ruth Bader Ginsburg Impeached

The U.S. Supreme Court probably won’t rule on marriage equality until the end of June, and when it does, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to side in support of equal-marriage rights.

For the right, this will be deeply annoying – not just because of conservative opposition to marriage equality in general, but also because much of the right believes Ginsburg shouldn’t be able to participate in the case at all. Right Wing Watch had this report this afternoon:

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore spoke with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Friday about his belief that states should “resist” a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, saying that Congress and the states should simply defy a court decision they disagree with by stating “that there is no right to redefine marriage” in the U.S. Constitution.

“We have justices on the Supreme Court right now who have actually performed same-sex marriages, Ginsburg and Kagan,” Moore continued. “Congress should do something about this.”

Such as? Moore raised the prospect of impeachment proceedings.

Perkins concluded, in reference to Ginsburg, “This is undermining the rule of law in our country and ushers in an age of chaos.”

Oh, please.

First, the idea that Ginsburg can’t consider the constitutional questions surrounding marriage rights because she’s performed wedding ceremonies is pretty silly.

Second, let’s not lose sight of the context here. Roy Moore, who was once expelled from state Supreme Court because he declared an ability to ignore federal court rulings he doesn’t like, continues to argue that Alabama is not bound by the federal judiciary.

There’s someone in this story who’s “undermining the rule of law in our country,” and trying to create “chaotic” conditions, but it’s clearly not Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 26, 2015

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Roy Moore, Ruth Bader Ginsburg | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Josh Duggar And The Purity Lie”: ‘Pure’ And ‘Godly’ Because They Police And Condemn Other People’s Sexual Lives

Josh Duggar, the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, stars of “reality” TV and the real life conservative movement, has resigned his position as executive director of FRC Action, the political action arm of the Family Research Council, after In Touch magazine reported that he sexually abused young girls, including, apparently, his sisters, as a teenager.

In a statement to People magazine, Duggar, now 27, said:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. . . . I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.

Ruining his life.

According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle, paragons of parenting, hid Josh’s crimes from the police and the public. In Touchreports, based on the police report it obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, that:

Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.

The police report reveals that Jim Bob Duggar “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on” rather than contacting law enforcement. Josh was then sent to “Christian counseling” for three months, which, according to his mother’s admission, was not any sort of licensed counseling facility:

Asked about the training center that Jim Bob said Josh was sent to, Michelle told police, according to the report, “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”

In their own statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle say that “when Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes, and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong,” that “each one of our family members drew closer to God,” and that they “pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family.”

But the Duggars and their supporters have very deliberately marketed them as a perfect family—or if not perfect, at least pure, and in particular, sexually pure.

The first episode of their “reality” television show aired in 2008, two years after the police interviewed family members about the sexual assaults that had taken place in 2002 and 2003; the statute of limitations had already run and the police could not pursue charges.

In 2010, the Family Research Council, Josh’s future employer, gave Jim Bob and Michelle the “Pro-Family Entertainment” award, describing the family as “outspoken ambassadors for Christian values in a secular world.”

On their television program in 2009, Josh Duggar was portrayed as devoting himself to a “courtship” with his future wife Anna, rather than dating, which was derided as part of the “divorce culture:”

Tonight, Anna described her husband to People as “someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended.”

This week, a recap of their television show on their blog discussed how Jim Bob and Michelle “encourage their kids to take a chaperone along on all their dates so they have someone to keep them accountable and ensure that they stick to their courtship standards.” In their family, they police sex outside of marriage. In politics they police sex between consenting adults, sex between people of the same sex; they are “pure” and “godly” because they police and condemn other people’s sexual lives. But now the public knows that this family which enforces “purity” has covered up the sexual predations—against children, even their own children— of their star son.

The Duggars haven’t shied away from “protecting” children in other contexts. As Right Wing Watch reports, last year Josh Duggar “led a successful campaign to defeat a LGBT nondiscrimination measure in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which he said jeopardized the safety of children,” and that his mother “also ran a robocall pushing for the repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which she warned would empower ‘child predators’ to threaten ‘the safety and innocence of a child.’”

The Duggars are no ordinary spokespeople for the religious right; they are super-spokespeople. For years, they have been held up as exemplars of biblical living, of devotion to Christ, and of, especially, homespun honest living and sexual purity. It’s long been obvious to many that this is a product of marketing and packaging, not reality. But now no one can pretend anymore.


By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, May 21, 2015

May 25, 2015 Posted by | Christian Conservatives, Sexual Asault, The Duggars | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”: Cotton Sees Bombing Iran As No Big Deal

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has made no real effort to hide his support for a military confrontation with Iran. But in an interview yesterday on the Family Research Council’s radio show, the right-wing freshman went a little further, suggesting bombing Iran would be quick and simple.

Indeed, as BuzzFeed’s report noted, Cotton argued that U.S. strikes in Iran would go much smoother than the invasion of Iraq “and would instead be similar to 1999’s Operation Desert Fox, a four-day bombing campaign against Iraq ordered by President Bill Clinton.”

“Even if military action were required – and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table throughout which always improves diplomacy – the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq and that’s simply not the case,” Cotton said.

“It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days [of] air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior.”

For the record, the Arkansas Republican did not use the word “cakewalk” or assure listeners that we’d be “greeted as liberators.”

Look, we’ve seen this play before, and we have a pretty good idea how it turns out. When a right-wing neoconservative tells Americans that we can launch a new military offensive in the Middle East, it won’t last long, and the whole thing will greatly improve our national security interests, there’s reason for some skepticism.

Tom Cotton – the guy who told voters last year that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels might team up to attack Arkansans – wants to bomb Iran, so he’s telling the public how easy it would be.

What the senator didn’t talk about yesterday is what happens after the bombs fall – or even what transpires when Iran shoots back during the campaign. Are we to believe Tehran would just accept the attack and move on?

Similarly, Cotton neglected to talk about the broader consequences of an offensive, including the likelihood that airstrikes would end up accelerating Iran’s nuclear ambitions going forward.

There’s also the inconvenient detail that the Bush/Cheney administration weighed a military option against Iran, but it concluded that “a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a bad idea – and would only make it harder to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future.”

But don’t worry, America, Tom Cotton thinks this would all be easy and we could drop our bombs without consequence. What could possibly go wrong?


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2015

April 9, 2015 Posted by | Iran, Iraq War, Tom Cotton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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