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“The Company You Keep”: Bobby Jindal Wants To Fistfight Your God

“Our God wins!” Who do you think made this statement on Saturday in the hopes of rallying a group of religious fundamentalists? A. The leader of ISIS; B. A Yemeni militant commander; C. A radical Islamic cleric; or D. Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.

The correct answer is Jindal. He made the “our God wins” statement as the keynote speaker at an event sponsored by the conservative Christian organization, the American Family Association. (AFA.) Now, Jindal’s “our God wins” is a more impressive boast than you might first realize. Jindal, who is now a Christian, was raised a Hindu, a faith that features literally millions of Gods. So for Jindal’s new God to win, he is surely fully aware that it has to beat throngs of Hindu Gods. That would likely entail a massive, NCAA March madness-type bracket system pitting God versus God for years of battles.

In any event, the God Jindal and the AFA members worship has apparently been working out and is ready to kick some deity ass. And the way the crowd cheered Jindal’s notion that “my God can beat up your God” tells you a great deal about the AFA.

Now for those unfamiliar with the AFA, here’s a primer. They are a hate group. It’s really that simple. And that’s not just my opinion, but the view of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which named the AFA a hate group for its vicious anti-gay statements over the years.

As the SPLC’s Mark Potok has noted, in recent years the AFA also added Muslim bashing to its repertoire of hate. Apparently if you ask the leaders of the AFA, “What would Jesus do?” they would respond: demonize gays and Muslims.

The AFA, however, can’t simply be ignored. It’s indisputably a powerful conservative Christian organization. Based in Tupelo, Mississippi, it boasts 500,000-plus members and employs more than 100 people. It also operates its own popular radio network featuring Bryan Fischer, a man who is hateful as he is compelling to listen to on the radio.

Republican candidates for president have long visited Fischer’s show and teamed up with AFA in the hopes of attracting its followers. And not just the likes of Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry, but also more moderate candidates like former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who went on Fischer’s radio program during his failed 2012 bid for president.

Obviously political candidates can seek the support of any group they want. But as we saw recently with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), appearing before hate groups such as the white supremacist group he spoke before in 2002, could, and should, come back to haunt you.

So here’s a sample of the AFA’s views so you can understand what they are all about.

Gays are to blame for The Holocaust: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” –May 27, 2010, Fischer’s blog.

God will use ISIS to punish America for gay rights: “God will use the pagan armies of Allah to discipline the United States for our debauchery.” August 22, 2014, Fischer’s radio show.

Freedom of religion is for Christians only: “I have contended for years that the First Amendment, as given by the Founders, provides religious liberty protections for Christianity only. August 1, 2014 article by Fischer.

The Charlie Hebdo attack was God’s punishment for the magazine’s blasphemy: “They made a career out of taking the name of God, the God of the Bible, the father of the Lord Jesus” which was in violation of the commandment “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” January 9, 2015, Fischer radio show.

Bar gays from serving in public office: “I believe being an active homosexual should disqualify you from public office because it’s a form of sexual perversion.” January 8, 2015, Fischer radio show.

Immigrants to the United States must convert to Christianity: Our immigration policy should be, “convert to Christianity, fully assimilate (become an authentic American, not a hyphenated American), and support yourself. If you commit to those things, you are welcome here.”  April 9, 2011, Fischer Blog.

And the list goes on and on.  Yet Jindal and other Republicans have no problem being the keynote speakers at their event and appearing on the AFA radio program.

Why would a guy like Jindal, an Ivy Leaguer and a seemingly mainstream governor, team up with the likes of AFA? Well, many would say it’s out of political expediency. After all, in the 2012 presidential race, white Evangelical voters accounted for 50 percent of the voters in the early GOP primary contests.

Others would say Jindal is simply desperate. The RCP average of polls shows Jindal in eleventh place out of 12 GOP candidates with only 2.8 percent of support. Jindal is literally running behind the poll’s margin of error.

But then again, maybe we are wrong. Maybe people like Jindal, Perry, Huckabee, and the like align with the AFA because they actually agree with their views. Perhaps they too believe that gays are to blame for the Holocaust, that Muslims and Jews don’t deserve First Amendment rights, and that all immigrants need to convert to Christianity?

Sure, these views sound outlandish, but shouldn’t we assume that the politicians agree with the hateful positions of the groups they team up with unless we hear the candidate publicly denounce each one?

If Republican candidates want the support of groups like the AFA, both the general public and the AFA’s followers deserve to know which issues they agree upon and which ones they don’t.  Isn’t it time that the media started asking those questions?


By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, January 27, 2015

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Christian Right, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP’s Big Weekend”: So Much Extremism, So Little Time

If you want to know the current state of the Republican Party, look no further than the activities that the party’s leading presidential hopefuls have planned for this weekend. With two such extreme choices, how does a candidate pick just one?

Several top GOP contenders — including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — will be spending Saturday in Iowa at a conference organized by the party’s most vocal anti-immigrant extremist, Rep. Steve King, and featuring King’s favorite birther ally, Donald Trump.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, meanwhile, has a different strategy. He’ll be spending this weekend with radical Christian nationalists and anti-gay extremists to pray for the day when they gain total political control of the country.

How do you choose?

Each candidate seems to want to find just the right right-wing niche to launch his candidacy.

Republican leaders sometimes like to make a show of distancing themselves from Steve King — John Boehner memorably called him an “asshole” after he described DREAM Act beneficiaries as drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes” — but that hasn’t stopped them from allowing him to have plenty of influence over immigration policy. Last summer, the House GOP handed over its immigration policy to King, passing a bill repealing deportation relief for DREAMers that King gushed was like he “ordered off the menu.” And his influence is anything but fading.

The fact that potential Republican presidential candidates are flocking to King’s “Iowa Freedom Summit” is telling enough. The fact that it is cohosted by Citizens United — an organization now synonymous with the defense of big money in politics — and features Donald Trump — a man who has dedicated himself over the past few years to proving that President Obama was born in Kenya — is just icing on the cake. Anti-immigrant hatred, racist birther theories, and legalized corruption all in one conference — truly tempting!

One person was evidently able to resist: Bobby Jindal, who already had plans to cater to another set of extremists the same weekend.

Jindal has apparently decided that if he’s going to run for president, his role model will be Rick Perry.

In 2011, as Perry was zeroing in on a presidential run, he decided to solidify his base in the religious right by holding “The Response,” a massive “prayer rally” in Texas organized by the wildly anti-gay American Family Association (AFA) and their Christian nationalist allies at the “International House of Prayer” (yes, IHOP), featuring an impressive collection of right-wing extremists. Although one participant reported that the prayer rally cured Texas of a curse left by Native American cannibals, it failed to launch Perry into the presidency.

But Jindal seems to be confident that the second time will be the charm. Jindal has signed on with the AFA to host “The Response: Baton Rouge” on the campus of Louisiana State University, which he says will cause the nation to “turn back to God” and “put these United States of America back in the right path.” Also helping to organize the rally is David Lane, a quietly influential Christian-right activist who has built strong alliances within the Republican Party in his effort to establish a U.S. government that reflects his theocratic worldview.

Jindal was already working hard, if somewhat more quietly, to solidify his ties with the religious right — for instance, by pouring millions of dollars in taxpayer money into religious schools that teach junk science and revisionist history. But what Jindal doesn’t appear to have counted on is that when you partner with extremists to host a massive public rally, it’s hard to hide the fact that you’re partnering with extremists to host a massive public rally. The AFA, which is footing most of the bill for the event, is most notorious for the bigoted ranting of its chief spokesperson, Bryan Fischer, who, from his perch at the organization’s radio network, manages to regularly insult and demean LGBT people, Muslim Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, women, and even Medal of Honor recipients. He also frequently declares that the First Amendment is meant to protect only Christians, a category in which he does not include Mormons, and calls Hinduism — the faith of Jindal’s parents — a “doctrine of demons.”

And that’s just one person! The AFA is the kind of group that boycotts Home Depot for participating in gay pride parades, dabbles in anti-Obama conspiracy theories, and is leading the charge against the “War on Christmas.”

Lane, for his part, has predicted that car bombings in major American cities will soon be part of God’s “mercy” on the country for such sins as letting an openly gay poet read at a presidential inauguration, and hopes for the day when the Bible is used as the “principle textbook” in American schools.

On top of all of this, Jindal has found it somewhat hard to back away from a “prayer guide” distributed by organizers of his rally that blamed Hurricane Katrina on gay people getting married, a claim that the AFA cheerfully stood behind even after it started to get Jindal in trouble.

Not that it’s unusual for Jindal to partner with these people. The AFA is a top sponsor of the annual Values Voter Summit, which always draws a who’s who of Republican leaders. And Lane has partnered with Perry, Huckabee, Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Pence and the Republican National Committee.

As the presidential primary approaches, the GOP’s candidates are scrambling to win the support of theocrats, bigots and anti-immigrant extremists. What they don’t seem to realize is that that will make it much harder for them to win the respect of the rest of us.


By: Michael Keegan, President, People For the American Way; The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 22, 2015

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, GOP Presidential Candidates, Religious Right | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Hypocrisy Goes Much Deeper”: As RNC Gathers, More Prominent GOP Members In Bed With Extremists

It’s only been a few weeks since we learned that majority whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) had spoken to a white supremacist group in 2002, and again the Republican Party has a scandal about race on its hands.

As the RNC gathers today in San Diego for its annual strategy meeting to draft plans for its future, particularly how it will improve its outreach to minorities, another prominent GOP lawmaker has been discovered to be a fan of white supremacist thinking.

Dave Agema, a member of the Republican National Committee from Michigan, republished an essay by the white nationalist publication American Renaissance in a New Year’s Eve Facebook post. The racist article, par for the course for American Renaissance, said “blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

Agema reportedly found it “very enlightening.” Can that possibly be true?

Agema has since pulled the piece down, but he refuses to apologize or resign from the RNC. And this isn’t his first racist rodeo.

According to the National Journal, Agema has a well-documented history of making inflammatory and false remarks, such as that President Obama is a Muslim. The Journal points to another Agema Facebook faux pas. He apparently shared what he called an “eye opening” essay that posed the question: “Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”

At least in this case, some in the RNC have reacted appropriately by calling for Agema to resign or be removed. They include RNC head Reince Priebus and Michigan’s entire GOP delegation. That’s all well and very good, but where’s the outrage from Priebus or other prominent Republicans over Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s plan to hold a prayer rally with the American Family Association (AFA)? Emails to Priebus’ and Jindal’s offices asking for comment were not returned.

On Jan. 24, Jindal, with AFA backing, will be praying at Louisiana State University in an event billed as “The Revival.” His partner, AFA, has defamed immigrants, the LGBT community and women. And just like American Renaissance, it has had horrible things to say about black people.

Let’s take a look at Jindal’s prayer partners.

  • An AFA leader has said, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.”
  • The same staffer said African Americans “rut like rabbits” and women have no place in politics or the military.
  • Another has argued that Hispanics are “socialists by nature” and come to the United States to “plunder” our country.
  • And the group has repeatedly made the point that non-Christians are second-class citizens—“we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” (Find a comprehensive look at AFA’s extremist statements and positions here).

Given a track record like that, I have to ask where’s the outrage from Jindal’s fellow Republicans? American Renaissance is clearly racist, but so are these statements about black people and Latinos. Shouldn’t they be condemned as well? And what about blaming gay people for the Holocaust?

So, if Agema is the big Republican elephant in the room stalking the GOP’s efforts to reach out to minorities, isn’t that true as well of any politician who is close to AFA?

Sadly the hypocrisy goes much deeper. As RNC Chair Priebus has berated Agema, rightly saying, “The tone and rhetoric from Agema is consistently offensive and has no place in politics or any rational conversation,” the chairman is also working closely with AFA.

At the end of this month, Priebus is leading an all expenses paid trip to Jerusalem for RNC members. So far, about 60 members (about 36 percent) of the RNC have accepted the offer, according to Haaretz.

And guess who is picking up the tab for this “incredible opportunity” Priebus is offering his fellow RNC members? You guessed right: the AFA.


By: Heidi Beirich, Hate Watch Blog, Southern Poverty Law Center, January 14, 2015

January 15, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Racism, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wacko Birds Of A Feather”: Right Wing Obligatory Chores Essential To Maintaining Good Relations With The GOP Base

Those who marveled at my earlier post about David Barton’s belief that legalized abortion is the cause of climate change should be aware that the “historian” is not only the chief inspiration for the whole “Christian Nation” meme that has largely been accepted as a truism by much of the American Right, but swims in some of the same waters as regular old Republican pols.

This becomes apparent if you look at one of ol’ David’s favorite organizations, the American Renewal Project, the very insider Christian Right group closely aligned with the aggressively homophobic American Family Association, and run by the famously influential David Lane, whose main vehicle is the “Pastor’s Policy Briefings” that bring pols in on the carpet to be instructed by clergy in an off-the-record context.

Barton was present at the first such event of the 2014 electoral cycle in Iowa back in July. So, too, were Rand Paul, and the man who stole the show, Ted Cruz (per this account from the Des Moines Register‘s Jennifer Jacobs:

This morning, Cruz spoke for nearly an hour at the Iowa Renewal Project, a two-day, all-expenses-paid forum organized by David Lane, a political activist from California who has been quietly mobilizing evangelicals in Iowa for six years. Two top-name GOP politicians who are likely 2016 presidential candidates – Cruz and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, both born-again Christians – are the stars of today’s sessions.

Cruz lectured for 30 minutes, his voice at times rising to a shout. He answered questions for another 20 minutes, then stood at the center of a circle as pastors laid their hands on him and the whole audience – a predominantly white group with about 20 black pastors – bowed heads to pray for him.

Then there was this tidbit, which is even more interesting now that David Corn has drawn attention to a certain reverend close to the junior senator from Texas:

Cruz, who told The Des Moines Register he has never been to Iowa before, laid out his social conservative credentials in some detail, explaining all the religious issues he defended in court cases he worked on as a private lawyer and as solicitor general in Texas. He introduced his Cuban immigrant father, Rafael Cruz, who sat in the audience.

That was then. This is now, today, per Andrew Shain of The State:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is reaching out Monday to the same audience of South Carolina pastors that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited twice before his surprise victory in the state’s 2012 presidential primary.

Cruz, an expected White House hopeful who was the lightning rod during last month’s 16-day partial federal government shutdown, will speak at a Columbia hotel. It is one of many events that evangelical political operative David Lane has organized in key battleground states since 2005.

Lane’s American Renewal Project is financed by the American Family Association, the Mississippi-based Christian organization that advocates on social issues. Lane’s goal is to get more evangelicals to the polls via the “pastors’ policy briefings’’ that he has held over the years, including a half-dozen in South Carolina.

SC Sen. Tim Scott is also on the agenda for this event, entitled “Rediscovering God in America.” The preachers and pols will also hear from “historian” William Federer, who argues, among other things, that Benghazi! was an Alinskyite plot by Hillary Clinton to impose “global Sharia law.” Seriously:

I could go on and on (another speaker at the SC event, Dr. Laurence White, delivered a blood-curdling speech I happened to hear in Iowa last year attacking Christians who tolerate “the perverted standards of the ungodly who live around us” and damned anyone who would in any way compromise with baby-killing pro-choicers). But you get the point. Pundits who casually talk about pols in both parties pandering to “extremists” or “interest groups” clearly don’t get it. There is no analog among Democratic politicians–certainly those considered possible serious candidates for president–consorting with people as “out there” as Barton and Federer and White and AFA founder Don Wildmon (another speaker in Columbia) and Lane and Lord knows who else. For Republicans, it’s not only business as usual, but essential to good relations with “the base” and an obligatory chore on the road to the presidential nomination.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, November 4, 2013

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bad For Women’s Health”: The People Who Brought You Curves Are Actually Working Against Women

The latest filings from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads show a last minute contribution of $1 million received just days before the election (10/29/12) from Gary Heavin — the co-founder of Curves International Inc., which calls itself “the world’s leader in women’s fitness.”

Curves, a chain of women-only fitness center franchises, claims nearly 10,000 locations in more than 85 countries. Heavin and his fellow co-founder, his wife Diane, sold Curves International to a private equity firm in October, but they remain prominently featured on the company’s website. The Heavins say they “share a passion for and commitment to women’s health and fitness.” But his massive donation to the right-wing super PAC is only the latest in a long pattern of their efforts in support of policies that undermine women’s equality in the workplace and restrict women’s access to health care services.

American Crossroads spent $91 million to elect Mitt Romney over President Obama. Romney refused to endorse key pro-women legislation including the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, but backed reinstating the “global gag rule” on even discussing abortion as a family planning option and supported the infamous Blunt Amendment to allow employers to deny health benefits that go against their personal views. Crossroads also worked to help far-right extremists like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and George Allen. Much of the American Crossroads attack strategy focused on criticizing Obamacare and those who backed the effort to expand health insurance access to all Americans.

In addition to helping fund American Crossroads, the Heavins also combined to give $92,400 to the House and Senate Republican campaign arms, $2,500 to Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), $30,800 to the Republican National Committee, $7,300 to Romney’s campaign, and $2,500 to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2012.

And this past election isn’t the only time that Curves and the Heavins have worked against women’s reproductive rights. Gary Heavin pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars for controversial “pregnancy crisis centers” that try to talk women out of abortions and have been accused to providing false information. They also made large donations to abstinence-only education programs — programs which often misinform and make teens more likely to engage in risky behavior and become pregnant. Curves also pulled its funding for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation over its objection to the charity’s funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services. In a 2004 editorial, Mr. Heavin attacked Planned Parenthood’s sex education literature, writing “I have a 10-year-old daughter. I would absolutely not allow her to be exposed to this material. I don’t want her being taught masturbation and told that homosexuality is normal.”

That anti-choice and anti-LGBT stance was further demonstrated when Curves partnered with the American Family Association — a group that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” They joined for a 2009 healthy recipe contest and sold a Curves fitness CD on the AFA’s website. Gary Heavin has also been an outspoken enthusiast for televangelist Pat Robertson, who has blamed natural disasters on same-sex marriage equality and blamed 9/11 on abortion, the separation of church and state, and civil liberties groups.


By: Josh Israel, Think Progress, December 7, 2012

December 9, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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