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“Satan’s Office Party”: It’s Black Friday And The Religious Zealots Are Running Out Of Places To Shop

On this Black Friday, apparently members of the religious right are running into a problem. After having joined the bandwagon of turning Christmas into a commercialized shopping extravaganza, Linda Harvey says that they’re running out of places to spend their money that are content to discriminate against LGBT people.

Of course she warns people to stay away from the usual suspects like Macy’s for allowing a transexual to use a woman’s dressing room and Target for selling gay pride t-shirts. But oh my, she now has to add that conservative bastion known as Wal-Mart to the list for opposing “religious freedom” bills in Arkansas and Indiana.

But my very favorite is her problem with Mattel.

If you’re thinking toys, avoid Mattel. They just created “Moschino Barbie” with an ad featuring a tragically feminized little boy who plays with Barbies, a wicked accommodation to the current gender-destructive culture.

Little boys playing with Barbies? What is the world coming to? For our “gender-destructive culture,” Harvey has a totally hyperbolized name…”Satan’s Office Party.”

Here’s a thought. What if these religious zealots actually DID run out of places to shop and had to spend some time thinking about what the whole Christmas season was originally about?

Let me tell you something about the Jesus that I know.

He was a real man. Born in a poor region to working poor parents. He loved learning, he loved his mother and his father.

But he left them and spent his life with the poor, the outcast, the rejected, the defiled, the sick, the sinners, the bedraggled, the bereft, the self-hating, the lonely, the banished, the foul, the miserable, the desperate and finally, those sick with their own power.

He did this, not because of his ideology or his creed. He did this not because of his doctrine. He did this, quite simply, because he loved them. He preferred them.

Making up a fictionalized “war on Christmas” is a way to avoid the discomfort these folks would feel if they really did attempt to put Christ back in Christmas.


By: Nancy Letourneau, The Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 27, 2015

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Black Friday, Christian Right, Christmas | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Political Dead Weight”: Bobby Jindal Is A False Prophet Without Honor In His Own Country

Seems Bobby Jindal might as well spend all his time in Iowa right now. He’s sure as hell not doing himself any good by any time he’s spending in Louisiana, doing the job to which he was elected. Check out the numbers from this new poll of the Pelican State, per WWL-TV in Nawlins.

In a heavily Republican state like Louisiana, there’s a good amount of interest in the Republican presidential primary, but if you think Donald Trump is at the top of the list with voters in this state, think again.

The billionaire real estate mogul may be the candidate grabbing the attention of the public and media, but according to the exclusive WWL-TV/Advocate poll, it’s the more soft-spoken Ben Carson who seems to be winning people over. 23 percent of voters in Louisiana say they would vote for Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, if the Republican presidential primary were held today. 19 percent say they would choose Trump.

“That’s rare right now because most of the polls are showing Trump ahead, and I think that’s largely because Ben Carson has become the favorite of many evangelical Christian conservatives,” said pollster Dr. Ron Faucheux, whose Washington, D.C.-based firm, Clarus Research Group, conducted the survey for WWL-TV and The Advocate.

Hey, wait a minute. Hasn’t Bobby Jindal spent the entire last year making sure nobody could possibly outdo him in pandering to the Christian Right, doing everything short of handling snakes? Isn’t he being supported by the Christian Right megastars of the Duck Dynasty Clan?

The Christian Conservative voting bloc is the same voter base Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying to win over, but the poll puts Jindal in the eighth spot among Louisiana voters surveyed. Despite being the sitting governor, only three percent of voters in this state said they would vote for Jindal.

“Bobby Jindal in Louisiana is political dead weight right now,” said Faucheux.

Wow. These numbers shock even me. Jindal is a false prophet without honor in his own country.

What can Bobby possibly do to deal with this rather emphatic repudiation of his stewardship? I guess he can emulate Carly Fiorina, who argues she was run off at HP not because she had ruined a fine old family-run company through her arrogance, but because she was just too good for the hide-bound suckers who didn’t see a merger with the dying COMPAQ outfit as the keys to the kingdom. Maybe Bobby’s just too good for Louisiana, or really, for America.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Post, October 2, 2015

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Christian Right, Evangelicals | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Devil And Dan Webster”: Yet Another Sign Of The Rightward Drift Of The GOP In Recent Years

It’s very, very likely that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. But it’s worth noting that the solon most likely to challenge him on behalf of disgruntled conservatives, Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), is not just a bit to the right of Jimmy Dean Sausage, but has strong links to some of the more exotic and destructive of Christian Right cults. At TPM today, Sarah Posner reminds us of this bird’s strange plumage:

[Webster] has a decades-long affiliation with the Institute in Basic Life Principles, the controversial ministry whose founder, Bill Gothard, resigned last year after more than 30 women accused him of sexual harassment. As TPM reported earlier this month, IBLP subjected young followers to victim-blaming “counseling” for rape, as well as grueling work schedules at its facilities for little or no pay, requiring women to engage in gendered tasks that included scrubbing carpets on their hands and knees.

The IBLP, you may recall, is where young Josh Duggar was sent for counseling after he was caught sexually abusing little girls. You see how well that all turned out.

But as Posner explains, Webster’s association with IBLP–and more specifically with the group’s Advanced Training Institute for homeschooling–was a lot more intimate and ongoing than that of the Duggers.

In a 2003 speech at an IBLP conference, “Discover the True Qualities of Leadership,” Webster boasted of how he diligently conducts both his private and public life according to the “commitments” he made to the principles he learned at IBLP seminars. By his own account in the speech, and according to statements in ATI newsletters, Webster began his affiliation with IBLP when he attended a seminar for legislators at IBLP’s Northwoods Conference Center in Watersmeet, Michigan, in 1984. A few months later, Webster said during the speech, he attended an IBLP “basic seminar” in Tampa, Florida. His family later joined ATI, and his wife homeschooled their six children with the curriculum. (Webster’s first legislative achievement in Florida was a bill legalizing homeschooling, which became law in 1985.)

IBLP believes strongly in submission of women to men, and opposes not just abortion but virtually every form of birth control. And they are no slackers on the spiritual warfare front, either:

Webster has claimed that the “Hedge of Thorns” prayer he learned at the legislative seminar has protected him, his family, and his congressional district from Satan. A 1990 ATI newsletter also describes how Webster “began to pray in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, that God would rebuke Satan and all his principalities from any evil attack in his district.” Webster and his family were featured in a 2002 newsletter, which described how he “looked to the Lord for a campaign plan, studying the Scriptures in Psalms and Proverbs that relate to leadership and government.” He continued to speak at IBLP seminars, including in 2007 and 2010. A former ATI member recalled Gothard inviting the entire Webster family to the stage at the 2007 Nashville conference, declaring, “Wouldn’t it be great to one day have a President Webster?” That, she said, was met with “loud applause.”

Well, the devil is likely to win over Dan Webster in his Speakership campaign. But the fact that this guy isn’t hooted off the podium by House Republicans for the very idea he should join the leadership is yet another sign of the rightward drift of the GOP in recent years.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Dan Webster, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Little Late To The Party”: Why Kim Davis Has Missed Her Moment

Years ago, I remember Christian right leaders fretting about pastors going to jail if they expressed their anti-gay views; when that didn’t come to pass, they fretted about churches losing their tax-exempt status. These worst case scenarios never happened, because we have this thing called the First Amendment, which protects peoples’ and churches’ right to say gay people are going to hell, or shouldn’t be able to get married, or should be cured by divine redemption.

Years later, the Christian right finally has its martyr in Kim Davis. Thanks to United States district judge David Bunning—who, despite having other options for securing marriage licenses for all Rowan County, Kentucky residents, ordered Davis to jail for six days—a new heroine was born.

Yet while Davis is most obviously a symbol for a Christian right bent on claiming its religious freedom is under siege, she is really a symbol of something else entirely. The Republican Party, and even its most reliable base of support, the Christian right, is being forced to move on when it comes to the marriage issue. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 58 percent of Republican millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) favor gay marriage. A Public Religion Research Institute survey conducted last year found “white evangelical Protestant Millennials are more than twice as likely to favor same-sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%).” That’s not a majority of millennial white evangelicals, but it’s certainly significant, given that this demographic has long been one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality.

Davis, then, is a little late to the party, an anachronism delivered to the doorstep of the party’s most desperate presidential candidates. Her host and chief supporter Mike Huckabee reminded us at yesterday’s rally in Grayson, Kentucky, that Davis came to Christ just four and a half years ago. To her, everything is new again, but to evangelicals who have either embraced marriage equality or acquiesced to its inevitability, her rebirth as a celebrity victim of Rowan County’s gay and lesbian betrotheds and of the judiciary’s “tyranny” must feel a bit stale.

The Davis phenomenon has some Republicans worried, as Sahil Kapur and Greg Stohr report at Bloomberg. “I think the longer this lingers, the worse it is for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement,” John Feehery, a Republican strategist and lobbyist, told Bloomberg, adding that Davis’s stance “smacks of bigotry.”

Then there is the matter of the law. Yesterday Davis embraced Huckabee and lawyer Mat Staver, both of whom have pronounced the Supreme Court to be without authority to decide constitutional questions like whether bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Even Fox News host Gregg Jarrett called this view “stunningly obtuse” and his guest Sharon Liko, a lawyer, called it “ridiculously stupid.” Piling on, the network’s Shepard Smith described the entire spectacle as a “religious play” and criticized Davis’s refusal to accept an accommodation, adding, “Haters are going to hate. We thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they’ve granted her, something that worked for everybody. But it’s not what they want.”

While not a majority view among a group of evangelical thought leaders interviewed for the web site Breakpoint, Hunter Baker, a lawyer and political science professor at Union University, opined, “Kim Davis’s office is obligated to perform the state function of issuing wedding certificates. She disagrees that marriage can exist between two people of the same sex. I agree with her.” But, Baker maintained, “the state of Kentucky has little choice other than to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court.”

Who else agrees with that statement? None other than Donald Trump, who called the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges “the law of the land.”

Trump’s perch atop the GOP field is, of course, driving his adversaries in search of a potent boost from the fractured evangelical base. At yesterday’s rally, a Huckabee aide did the Christ-like thing of blocking Ted Cruz from a key photo opportunity with Davis; after all, the Bible does say those polling in the single-digits shall reap the glory of exploitative publicity stunts.

While Trump’s summertime standing with evangelicals was thought to be a blip, it has persisted into September—along with continued analyses of why. “Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Obama administration and of Republican Party leaders has many social conservatives cheering for him,” the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Writing on the Fox News website, Robert Jeffress, the Texas megachurch pastor who in 2011 called Mormonism a “cult,” maintains, “No Evangelical I know is expecting Trump to lead our nation in a spiritual revival.” But, he goes on, President Barack Obama has “drastically lowered the threshold of spiritual expectations Evangelicals have of their president. No longer do they require their president to be one of them. Evangelicals will settle for someone who doesn’t HATE them like the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to.”

Do evangelicals need Kim Davis, political motivator? She may very well have missed her moment.


By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, September 9, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Kim Davis, Religious Freedom | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“He’s Got Himself A Regular Tent Revival Going”: Is Cruz Winning The Christian Right Sub-Primary?

While Donald Trump has had us all mesmerized, and we’ve also watched former co-front-runners Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio lose some altitude, and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina get their fifteen minutes of fame before voters and the media get a closer look at them, it could be that Ted Cruz has been making a move on a key constituency group with a lot of choices. On Friday night in Des Moines, Cruz put on quite the extravaganza for Christian Right activists who simultaneously want to show their wrathful power to the ungodly by smiting Planned Parenthood and whine and cower at their alleged persecution by The Homosexual Agenda. Here’s Matthew Patane’s take for the Des Moines Register:

In his opening remarks during the “Rally for Religious Liberty,” Cruz referenced a number of Supreme Court cases regarding religious issues that came down to a 5-4 decision.

“You want to know what this election is about? We are one justice away from the Supreme Court saying ‘every image of God shall be torn down,’” said Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas said.

The Cruz campaign invited multiple individuals that it said were “victimized by government persecution” for standing by their religious beliefs.

Oh yes. Cruz brought on stage the Bakers of Conscience, the homophobic Atlanta fire chief, all the mythic figures in the ongoing martyrdom of conservative evangelicals who will nonetheless Take Back Their Country next year.

But there’s an even bigger sign of Cruz’s ascendancy with this constituency, per WaPo’s Katie Zezima and Tom Hamburger:

Sen. Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood — a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters.

More than 100,000 pastors received e-mail invitations over the weekend to participate in conference calls with Cruz on Tuesday in which they will learn details of the plan to mobilize churchgoers in every congressional district beginning Aug. 30. The requests were sent on the heels of the Texas Republican’s “Rally for Religious Liberty,” which drew 2,500 people to a Des Moines ballroom Friday.

“The recent exposure of Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices has brought about a pressing need to end taxpayer support of this institution,” Cruz said in the e-mail call to action distributed by the American Renewal Project, an organization of conservative pastors.

Ah yes: The American Renewal Project, David Lane’s little effort in practical theocracy designed to get conservative evangelical ministers heavily and unambiguously engaged in partisan politics. Lane has long been closely associated with the American Family Association, the gold standard of homophobia.

Now Cruz’s central role in this lobbying campaign may largely flow from his position in the
Senate, where he has zero inhibitions about defying Mitch McConnell’s vows against government shutdown tactics. But you do have to wonder if Cruz is emerging as the Christian Right favorite, especially in Iowa, a bit ahead of schedule.

After all, Rick Perry missed the first Fox News Debate (as did two other aspirants to Christian Right support, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal) and is having financial issues. Mike Huckabee has his own habitual money troubles, and seems to have lost a step since 2008. And while the quieter and less overtly political breed of conservative evangelical, exemplified by the Southern Baptist Convention spokesman Russell Moore may prefer candidates like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, or even Jeb Bush, the old-school activists certainly seem to still be in the saddle in the early states. If Cruz can indeed put himself at the front of a crusade to destroy the godless baby-killers of Planned Parenthood, he’ll bask in positive Christian Right publicity right up to the brink of the Iowa Caucuses. Add in the regular presence on the campaign trail of Ted’s deranged father the Rev. Rafael Cruz and the junior senator from Texas has got himself a regular tent revival going.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 24, 2015

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Evangelicals, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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