Archive for Sarah Posner

The Islamophobia Dodge of the Religious Freedom Pledge

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by loonwatch

The Islamophobia Dodge of the Religious Freedom Pledge

by Sarah Posner (Religious Dispatches)

Open Doors USA, a Christian organization which evangelizes non-believers around the world, has drafted a Relgious Freedom Pledge, which it is asking the presidential candidates to sign.

The pledge states, among other things, that:

[R]eligious liberty in full is the birthright of every American, as recognized by the First Amendment. It entails the right to believe, worship, and practice in accord with one’s faith, subject only to the limits imposed by the U.S. constitution and the Bill of Rights.  The right of religious freedom must be applied equally to all religious communities in America, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. At the same time, religious freedom does not mandate belief, but protects the right not to believe.

So why won’t the pledge promoters talk about Islamophobia — by the very candidates it is trying to get to sign the pledge?

The only candidate so far to sign the pledge is Rick Santorum, who just last week advocatedfor profiling of Muslims. Santorum has also maintained that “Christendom” is at civilizational war with “jihadis,” who include, in his mind, moderates like Imam Feisal Rauf. When I asked an Open Doors spokesperson, Jerry Dykstra, about Santorum’s endorsement of Muslim profiling, he told me that “we’re happy to discuss the pledge, but not to comment on individual candidates’ stance on issues. We’re not experts in each candidates stance or statements on every issue. We do want candidates to pledge to upholding religious freedom for people of all faiths which of course includes Muslims.” But when I asked Dykstra if I could interview an Open Doors representative about the pledge in light of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. generally, he declined.

Taking a look at Open Doors website, I see that it promotes a “Muslim World Ministry” for which it raises money so “You can send light to dark places in the Muslim World.” You’re free to be Muslim, but it would be better to be Christian.

What’s more, though, is how Christian candidates who’ve done much to promote a lack of religious freedom for other religions (e.g., Michele Bachmann’s worry that sharia will “usurp the Constitution” or Newt Gingrich’s calls to ban sharia law because it is “a comprehensive political, economic and religious movement that seeks to impose sharia—Islamic law—upon all aspects of global society”) or who have done little to tamp it down (e.g., Rick Perry’s lamenon-efforts to call out his supporters’ anti-Mormonism, or Mitt Romney’s apparent willingness to overlook his endorser Jay Sekulow’s anti-Muslim crusades) are “considering” signing the pledge, with no questions raised by Open Doors.

It seems that Open Doors is more concerned about what it perceives to be anti-Christian sentiment. According to the pledge, religious freedom includes the right to employ religious arguments “contending for or against laws and policies, such as laws designed to protect the unborn and traditional marriage, or to relieve poverty and increase economic opportunity for the disadvantaged.” (Right Wing Watch points out how pledge co-author and Georgetown University professor Thomas Farr has argued that Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling in the Proposition 8 case would lead to religious persecution because it deemed “that religious and moral arguments against gay marriage are, in effect, irrational and therefore unconstitutional.”) The pledge also promotes “the right of individuals and of religious communities not to be forced to participate in, or to forfeit their employment because of refusal to participate in, activities that deeply offend their religious conscience.” (That is the same argument made by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and some evangelicalsagainst providing insurance that covers cost-free birth control.)

Religious persecution is a serious issue, and it’s true that Christians experience actual religious persecution in many places in the world. But being deprived of the ability to force one’s religious beliefs on all one’s fellow citizens in a secular democracy does not constitute persecution, and marginalizing Muslims in the name of “protecting” the Constitution isn’t “freedom.” But Open Doors doesn’t want to talk about it.

Threat to America’s Freedom? It’s Not Islamic Law

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by loonwatch

Imagine, for a minute, that Muslims in America were openly advocating at meetings and conferences to take control of major sectors of public life, such as the government, media, and the law.

Imagine further that Muslims had built law schools, accredited no less, with the agenda to teach its students that America should be governed by Islamic law.

And imagine a little further that the leaders of this Muslim movement to Islamicize America were openly calling for America to become a Muslim nation.

And just imagine that all of the above was being absorbed into a major American political party and that some members of this Muslim mission were in Congress and were also looking to become the next President of the United States.

Of course, there would be mass hysteria and panic at such a notion. But none of the above is actually happening. Instead, replace Muslim with Christian and that is precisely what is currently occurring in America.

But of course, certain Islamophobes would have us worry about an imagined threat from Muslim-Americans–who make up a measly 2% of the U.S. population–rather than the Christian groups out there who are actively working to Christianize America, and who have been working at this for over three decades with the aid of one of the two main political parties.

Many of these evangelical Christian groups are actively looking to restrict the rights of women, members of the LGBT community, and to force their religious viewpoint on to the rest of the country.  Worse yet, advocates of Christian dominionism call for world conquest, to subjugate the infidel nations of the world to Christian domination.

Here is an excellent article from Sarah Posner on dominionism (emphasis added)–just imagine how utterly insane Islamophobes would go if Muslim were substituted for Christian here:

The Christian right’s “dominionist” strategy

by Sarah Posner

An article in the Texas Observer last month about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s relationship with followers of a little-known neo-Pentecostal movement sparked a frenzied reaction from many commentators: Dominionism! Spiritual warfare! Strange prophecies!

All the attention came in the weeks before and after “The Response,” Perry’s highly publicized prayer rally modeled on what organizers believe is the “solemn assembly” described in Joel 2, in which “end-times warriors” prepare the nation for God’s judgment and, ultimately, Christ’s return. This “new” movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, is one strand of neo-Pentecostalism that draws on the ideas of dominionism and spiritual warfare. Its adherents display gifts of the spirit, the religious expression of Pentecostal and charismatic believers that includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and a belief in signs, wonders and miracles. These evangelists also preach the “Seven Mountains” theory of dominionism: that Christians need to take control of different sectors of public life, such as government, the media and the law.

The NAR is not new, but rather derivative of charismatic movements that came before it. Its founder, C. Peter Wagner, set out in the 1990s to create more churches, and more believers. Wagner’s movement involves new jargon, notably demanding that believers take control of the “Seven Mountains” of society (government, law, media and so forth), but that’s no different from other iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter these fields so that they are controlled by Christians.

After Perry’s prayer rally, Rachel Maddow featured a segment on her MSNBC show in which she warned,

“The main idea of the New Apostolic Reformation theology is that they are modern day prophets and apostles. They believe they have a direct line to God … the way that they’re going to clear the way for it [the end of the world] is by infiltrating and taking over politics and government.”

Maddow’s ahistorical treatment of the NAR, however, overlooked several important realities. For anyone who has followed the growth of neo-Pentecostal movements, and in particular the coalition-building between the political operatives of the religious right and these lesser-known but still influential religious leaders, the NAR is just another development in the competitive, controversial, outrageous, authoritarian and often corrupt tapestry of the world of charismatic evangelists.

Before the NAR came along, plenty of charismatic leaders believed themselves to be prophets and apostles with a direct line to God. They wrote books about spiritual warfare, undergirded by conspiracy theories about liberals and Satan and homosexuality and feminism and more (my own bookshelves are filled with them). They preached this on television. They preached it at conferences. They made money from it. They all learned from each other.

Before the NAR, Christian right figures promoted dominionism, too, and the GOP courted these religious leaders for the votes of their followers. Despite a recent argument by the Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg that “we have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before,” it’s been there since at least 1980. Michele Bachmann is a product of it; so was Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan pandered to it; so did both Bushes; so does Perry.

In 2007, I saw Cindy Jacobs and other “apostles” lay hands on Shirley Forbes, wife of Rep. Randy Forbes, the founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which boasts some Democrats as members and many of the GOP’s leading lights. “You are going to be the mother of an army,” they told Forbes, prophesying that she would “speak the power of the word into politics and government. Hallelujah!”

The idea that Christians have a sacred duty to get involved in politics, the law and media, and otherwise bring their influence to bear in different public spheres is the animating principle behind the religious right. If you attend a Values Voters Summit, the annual Washington confab hosted by the Family Research Council, you’ll hear speakers urging young people to go into media, or view Hollywood as a “mission field.” That’s because they insist these institutions have been taken over by secularists who are causing the downfall of America with their anti-Christian beliefs.

A few days ago, the Washington Post’s religion columnist, Lisa Miller, took Goldberg and Maddow to task for overhyping dominionism as a plot to take over the world. Miller, though, misses the boat, too, by neglecting to acknowledge and describe the infrastructure the religious right has built, driven by the idea of dominionism.

Oral Roberts University Law School, where Bachmann earned her law degree, was founded with this very notion in mind: to create an explicitly Christian law school. Herb Titus, the lawyer converted by Christian Reconstructionism who was instrumental in its launch, describes his mission in developing a Christian law school as a fulfillment of a “dominion mandate.” After ORU was absorbed into Regent University in the 1980s, Titus was the mentor to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who last week was elevated to chair of the Republican Governors Association and is widely speculated to be a possible vice-presidential pick.

Christian Reconstructionists, and their acolytes of the Constitution Party, believe America should be governed by biblical law. In her 1995 book, “Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States,” Sara Diamond describes the most significant impact of Reconstructionism on dominionism:

“the diffuse influence of the ideas that America was ordained a Christian nation and that Christians, exclusively, were to rule and reign.” While most Christian right activists were “not well-versed in the arcane teachings” of Christian Reconstructionism, she wrote, “there was a wider following for softer forms of dominionism.”

For the Christian right, it’s more a political strategy than a secret “plot” to “overthrow” the government, even as some evangelists describe it in terms of “overthrowing” the powers of darkness (i.e., Satan), and even some more radical, militia-minded groups do suggest such a revolution. In general, though, the Christian right has been very open about its strategy and has spent a lot of money on it: in the law, as just one example, there are now two ABA-accredited Christian law schools, at Regent (which absorbed the ORU law school) and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. There are a number of Christian law firms, like the Alliance Defense Fund, formed as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU. Yet outsiders don’t notice that this is all an expression of dominionism, until someone from that world, like Bachmann, hits the national stage.

John Turner, University of South Alabama historian and author of “Bill Bright and the Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America,” said that the NAR’s “Seven Mountains” dominionism is “just a catchy phrase that encapsulates what Bright and many other evangelical leaders were already doing — trying to increase Christian influence (they would probably use more militant phrases like ‘capture’) in the spheres of education, business and government.”

Bright, like Perry’s prayer cohorts, believed America was in trouble (because of the secularists) and needed to repent. One of the most well-known evangelicals in the country, Bright had agreed to let Virginia Beach preacher John Gimenez, a charismatic, organize the rally, despite evangelical discomfort with charismatic religious expression. In his book, Turner describes the Washington for Jesus rally of 1980:

From the platform, Bright offered his interpretation of the source of the country’s problems, asserting that “[w]e’ve turned from God and God is chastening us.” “You go back to 1962 and [196]3 [when the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer and Bible-reading],” Bright argued, “and you’ll discovered a series of plagues that came upon America.” Bright cited the Vietnam War, increased drug use, racial conflict, Watergate, and a rise in divorce, teenage pregnancy, and alcoholism as the result of those decisions. “God is saying to us,” he concluded, “‘Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!’” … “Unless we repent and turn from our sin,” warned Bright, “we can expect to be destroyed.”

Unlike Perry’s rally, Ronald Reagan the candidate wasn’t present at the Washington for Jesus rally. At a 2007 gathering at his church, Gimenez recounted how he and Bright later met with President Reagan, and Bright told him, “You were elected on April 29, 1980, when the church prayed that God’s will would be done.”

In August 1980, though, after Reagan had clinched the nomination, he did appear at a “National Affairs Briefing” in Texas, where televangelist James Robison (also instrumental in organizing Perry’s event) declared, “The stage is set. We’ll either have a Hitler-type takeover, or Soviet domination, or God is going to take over this country.” After Robison spoke, Reagan took the stage and declared to the 15,000 activists assembled by Moral Majority co-founder Ed McAteer, “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.”

That was also a big moment for Huckabee, who worked as Robison’s advance man. It was even imitated by then-candidate Barack Obama, who met with a group of evangelicals and charismatics in Chicago and repeated Reagan’s infamous line. Obama’s group included publisher Stephen Strang (an early endorser of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential bid) and his son Cameron, whose magazines Charisma and Relevant help promote the careers of the self-declared modern-day prophets and apostles. Huckabee appeared with Lou Engle at his 2008 The Call rally on the National Mall (like Perry’s, billed as a “solemn assembly”) in which Engle exhorted his prayer warriors to battlesatanic forces to defeat “Antichrist legislation.”

When I interviewed former Bush family adviser Doug Wead for my 2008 book, “God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters,” he gave me a lengthy memo he compiled for George H.W. Bush in 1985, to prepare him for his 1988 presidential run. In the memo, he identified a thousand “targets,” religious leaders across the country whose followers, Wead believed, could be mobilized to the voting booth.

In my book, I examined the theology and politics of the Word of Faith movement (also known as the prosperity gospel) and how Republicans cultivated the leading lights of the movement. Primarily because of television, but also because of the robust (and profitable) speaking circuit these evangelists maintain, they have huge audiences. All that was in spite of — just as the scrutiny of NAR figures now is revealing — outlandish, strange and even heretical theology. What’s more, Word of Faith figures have endlessly been embroiled in disputes not just with their theological critics, but with watchdogs and former parishioners who charge they took their money for personal enrichment, promising that God would bring them great health and wealth if they would only “sow a seed.”

At Gimenez’s 2007 event, Engle and the other “apostles” were not the stars; rather, the biggest draw was Word of Faith televangelist Kenneth Copeland. In 1998, writing to Karl Rove, Wead called Copeland “arguably one of the most important religious leaders in the nation.” At Gimenez’s church, Copeland, who has boasted that his ministry has brought in more the $1 billion over his career, preached for two hours. The sanctuary was packed, with the audience hanging on every word. Gimenez introduced him as “God’s prophet,” and Copeland urged them to “get rid of the evening news and the newspaper,” study “the uncompromised word of the Holy Ghost,” and take “control over principalities.”

The commenters who have jumped on the NAR frequently overstate the size of its following. Engle’s events, for example, are often smaller than advertised, including a poorly attended revival at Liberty University in April 2010, where one would expect a ready-made audience. When I’ve covered these sorts of events, including smaller conferences by local groups inspired by figures they see on television, it’s often hard to see how the often meandering preachers are going to take over anything, even while it’s clear they cultivate an authoritarian hold on their followers. I meet a lot of sincere, frequently well-intentioned people who believe they must be “obedient” to God’s word as imparted by the “prophets.”

Most chilling, though, is the willingness to engage in what’s known in the Word of Faith world as “revelation knowledge,” or believing, as Copeland exhorted his audience to do, that you learn nothing from journalism or academia, but rather just from the Bible and its modern “prophets.” It is in this way that the self-styled prophets have had their greatest impact on our political culture: by producing a political class, and its foot soldiers, who believe that God has imparted them with divine knowledge that supersedes what all the evil secularists would have you believe.

Last week CNN’s Jack Cafferty asked, “How much does it worry you if both Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have ties to dominionism?” That worry crops up every election cycle. If people really understood dominionism, they’d worry about it between election cycles.

However, it’s the Moozlums we’re supposed to worry about.

To clarify though, LoonWatch is not pressing the panic button: the threat from the religious right is very real, but we don’t think it’s a doomsday situation.  All we’re saying is that the threat from the Christian right is certainly greater than this imaginary threat from Muslims and all this Sharia-nonsense.

Law School Asks Students To Choose “God’s Law” Over Man’s Law

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , on May 17, 2011 by loonwatch
Imagine if they were Muslim: Liberty Law School teaches God’s Law over Man’s Law

Just imagine if a Muslim school taught this in the United States. Instead, an accredited law school here in the United States is actively instructing its students to place religious law above the laws of the United States. Apparently, so long as it is Christianity, and not Islam, no one needs to fear.

Religion Dispatches – Liberty Law Exam Question on Notorious Kidnapping Case Pressured Students to Choose “God’s Law” over “Man’s” by Sarah Posner

Late last month, after federal authorities arrested a Tennessee pastor on charges of aiding and abetting an international parental kidnapping, students at Liberty University Law School saw one of their exam questions come to life.

The pastor was charged with helping Lisa Miller, an “ex”-lesbian, abscond to Nicaragua with her young daughter Isabella after she flouted a series of court orders requiring Isabella’s visitation with Miller’s former partner, Janet Jenkins. According to the criminal complaint and FBI affidavit, Miller has been in hiding with Isabella since September 2009, living in the beach house of Christian Right activist and businessman Philip Zodhiates, whose daughter Victoria Hyden works as an administrative assistant at Liberty Law School.

Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially… civil disobedience was the answer.”

This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”

Deborah Cantrell, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, and an expert in both legal ethics and family law, said that discussions of civil disobedience in law school classrooms must “be transparent that this is not a simplistic conversation.” She added that a law professor should emphasize that the discussion is a “normative” one, and that civil disobedience has consequences, including jail, and, for a lawyer who advises a client to disobey a court order, possible loss of their license to practice law.

That semester’s midterm exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”

Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers-to-be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”

Still, some knew what they needed to “regurgitate,” in order to get a good grade. “It was obvious by the substance of the class during the semester the answer that they wanted,” said one of the students. “The majority of people that I am acquainted with who did get As wrote that because it was expected of them.”

One of the students who got an A said, “I told them she needed to engage in civil disobedience and seriously consider leaving the country,” adding, “I knew what I needed to write.”

Given what was expected of them on the exam, and the tenor of the class, there is “not a lot of shock among the students about the current developments,” said one of the students, referring to the revelation that Miller is in hiding in Nicaragua. “Everybody semi-suspected that Liberty Counsel had something to do with her disappearance.”

A Protracted Case of Biblical Worldview

The protracted custody battle between Miller and Jenkins, which has spanned eight years and multiple courts in two states, has been a celebrated case for Liberty Counsel, the nonprofit law firm of which Staver is the chair and which is affiliated with the law school. Liberty Counsel’s publicity for its relentless litigation on Miller’s behalf has exploited several religious right tropes: that gay and lesbian people can be made straight through Christ; that “activist judges” are subverting biblical principles; and that the very health of the republic is at risk because gay and lesbian people can be parents.

In an October 1, 2008 posting on its website, Liberty Counsel asked supporters “to help us spread the word about the ongoing legal case that directly impacts the life of six-year old child Isabella and the future of this Nation,” adding that, if Vermont courts ruled against Miller, “then, on the issues of marriage and family, our country will no longer be the United States of America but instead will be the United States according to Massachusetts, California, or Vermont.”

The posting included a letter written by Lindevaldsen, asking for prayers and help for “Lisa Miller—my client, my friend, my sister in Christ.” The letter, dated September 22, 2008, claimed that Miller “is one of thousands across this nation who have left the homosexual lifestyle through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.” The three-page plea was an homage to Miller’s elevation of Scripture over court orders, noting, “Lisa could be thrown in jail for refusing to expose her child to Janet’s harmful and destructive lifestyle,” as a result of her refusal to comply with the visitation orders from the Vermont court.

“Lisa’s desire to raise her child according to the truths of Scripture are [sic] under attack,” Lindevaldsen concluded. “At times like this, the Church needs to stand united before our Lord to intercede on Lisa and Isabella’s behalf.”

Lindevaldsen also created a Facebook group—since defunct—“Only One Mommy: The Story of Lisa and Isabella Miller,” and maintains a blog called “Only One Mommy.” Its tagline: “helping to restore God’s design for marriage and family.”

In the fall of 2008, when Liberty Counsel was making these pleas and Miller was making appearances in her lawyers’ Foundations class, she had long been in violation of the law. She had been held in contempt of several court orders requiring Isabella’s visitation with Jenkins dating back to 2004. Despite those contempt orders, Miller and her lawyers persisted with their arguments, relentlessly appealing rulings against them, charging that they were in contravention of the Bible.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied review of her appeal from a Virginia court holding that Vermont courts should decide the custody matter. The Vermont Supreme Court had ruled as early as 2006 that “the record supported the conclusion that Lisa was in contempt of court for willfully violating” a 2004 visitation order. In March 2008, in ruling on yet another appeal by Liberty Counsel, a clearly frustrated Vermont Supreme Court panel held that it had already resolved all the issues in its 2006 order. Writing that there was no new evidence that would change its prior legal conclusions, the court also noted that Miller’s arguments were “disingenuous in light of the family court’s unchallenged findings regarding the child’s best interests and plaintiff’s [Miller’s] contemptuous conduct.”

Did Liberty Counsel Know Miller had Fled to Nicaragua?

Neither Staver nor Lindevaldsen responded to RD’s requests for comment, but Staver told theNew York Times last month that they had not had contact with Miller since 2009 and had always advised her to obey the law. Staver and Lindevaldsen did, however, teach their students that “civil disobedience” was a proper response, and persisted in their efforts to reverse court orders with relentless appeals claiming that court orders were in contravention of Miller’s Christian beliefs.

In August 2009, just one month before the FBI believes Miller fled to Nicaragua, Liberty Counsel attached a 20-page affidavit signed by Miller to a brief it filed in court in opposition to Jenkins’ request to transfer custody of Isabella to her. Miller claimed, among other things, that the case was “about having Vermont courts choose between two diametrically opposed worldviews on parentage and family,” that the Bible deems homosexuality a sin, and that gay parenting “is not consistent with the truth in the Bible.”

She concluded, “I simply do not understand how a system of government that recognizes that there are certain unalienable rights that are given to us from God, and therefore cannot be taken away by government can declare Janet a parent and give her custody of my child.”

Three months later, the Vermont family court ruled in favor of transferring custody of Isabella to Jenkins. In response to Jenkins’ attorney’s January 2010 motion to hold Miller in contempt of court for not complying with that order to transfer custody, Lindevaldsen reacted with a motion to withdraw from the case (but not from its then-pending appeal—its third—to the Vermont Supreme Court). Lindevaldsen claimed Miller could not be found, and that she had had no contact with Miller and could not represent her since she did not know what her wishes were.

Jenkins’ attorney charged in a court filing that Liberty Counsel demonstrated “a clear attempt to assist their client in ducking service by withdrawing.” The court denied Liberty Counsel’s motion.

After Miller had been in contempt of court for disregarding both the multiple visitation orders and the judge’s order that she turn over custody of Isabella to Jenkins, the Vermont family court issued an arrest warrant for her. At the time, Staver told a reporter, “We don’t know where she is and we don’t know anybody who does know her whereabouts,” adding that he hadn’t had contact with her since the previous fall. On April 27, 2010, a federal court in Vermont charged Miller with one count of parental kidnapping “with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.”

A Law School with a Christian Worldview

The law school, founded in 2004, “upon the premise that there is an integral relationship between faith and reason, and that both have their origin in the Triune God,” claims a vision “to see again all meaningful dialogue over law include the role of faith and the perspective of a Christian worldview as the framework most conducive to the pursuit of truth and justice.” The law school received accreditation from the America Bar Association last year.

The Foundations class is unlike anything offered at secular law schools, its purpose being to guide students toward a “Christian worldview” of the law. In the 2008-09 academic year, the required texts included David Barton’s Original Intent, which Barton’s website describes as “essential resource for anyone interested in our nation’s religious heritage and the Founders’ intended role for the American judicial system,” and Francis Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto.

But the students who spoke to RD worry that these Christian credentials will not serve them well after graduation. “If you walked into court and argued what Liberty wants you to,” said one, “you’d be laughed out of the room.”

Staver’s views, they said, are “militant” and “fundamentalist.” He brooks no criticism from students or faculty. “He rules the law school like Moammar Gaddafi runs Libya,” said one of the students.

In “Revolutionary Hall,” alongside likenesses of King, Reagan, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and others, the school has installed a painting of Staver arguing before the Supreme Court. It depicts him arguing McCreary v. Kentucky, defending a constitutional challenge to a public Ten Commandments display—which he lost.

What’s more, the fundamentalist worldview imposed on students there may be having the opposite effect than Liberty intends. One of the students told RD, “I came in the type that watches Fox News all the time and was a pretty hardline right-winger,” but the law school “changed my viewpoints and now I would consider myself a conservative-leaning moderate.”

Sarah Posner: Religious War Comes to CPAC

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by loonwatch

CPAC really isn’t the friendliest place for Muslims to be.

Religious War Comes to CPAC

by Sarah Posner

(Nation)

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual three-day parade of GOP presidential hopefuls delivering paeans to God, country and capitalism, was this year embroiled in a full-scale, intra-party religious war. The conservative movement, according to a group of Islamophobic activists, has been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, which they claim supports Sharia, “a supremacist program that justifies the destruction of Christian churches and parishioners” and “the replacement of our constitutional republic…with a theocratic Islamic caliphate governing according to shari’ah.”

That charge came straight out of a flyer handed to me by Krista Hughes, an employee of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), whose president Frank Gaffney is one of the principal ringleaders in the rightwing propaganda campaign to strike fear in Americans’ hearts that a fifth column of Muslim extremists seeks to subvert America from within.

At CPAC, Gaffney’s chief target is Suhail Khan, a former Republican House staffer, Bush administration political appointee and current Senior Fellow at an evangelical think tank focused on religious freedom. Khan, a self-described devout Muslim who serves on the board of the American Conservative Union, CPAC’s organizer, is a conservative through and through. Raised in the San Francisco Bay area, he told me the atmosphere at UC Berkeley, where he attended college, turned him off and led him to his current political persuasion. But Khan’s conservative cred is of no moment to Gaffney, who has waged war against him as well as conservative movement icon Grover Norquist, also an ACU board member, because, Gaffney insists, they are both in league with anti-American Islamists.

Khan, who told me earlier this year that CPAC had shunned Gaffney because he is a “crazy bigot,” has withstood a barrage of Gaffney’s conspiratorial histrionics, which are reminiscent of the charge by John Birch Society founder Robert Welch that Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist agent.

 

On Gaffney’s Radio Show, Rep. King Suggests Muslims Aren’t American

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Radio, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by loonwatch

On point piece from Sarah Posner, another writer who was an extraordinary “anti-Loon” in 2010. It goes to show that despite all of Rep. King’s protestations that his hearings are innocent of bigotry his statements prove otherwise.

On Gaffney’s Radio Show, Rep. King Suggests Muslims Aren’t American

by Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches)

Lee Fang at Think Progress reports that Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee who plans on holding hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims, said on Frank Gaffney’s radio program last week that Muslims aren’t real Americans in combatting terrorism:

Joining anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney on Gaffney’s radio program last week, King doubled down on his promise to launch a witch-hunt against Muslims. He repeated a falsehood that he stated earlier — that American Muslims never cooperate to combat terrorism. But in addition to this claim, King made the extraordinary smear that American Muslims aren’t “American” when it comes to war. “[W]hen a war begins,” King said, every ethnic and religious group unites as “Americans.” “But in this case,” King continued, referring to Muslims, “this is not the situation. … Whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should.”

As I reported last week, Gaffney has disgusted some conservatives with his anti-Muslim bigotry; one Muslim conservative activist, Suhail Khan, told me that is why Gaffney has beenexcluded from next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Yet that doesn’t stop CPAC from including a group like the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which supportsFront Page magazine, which has promotedGaffney’s work, including Gaffney’s smear of Khan.

As King’s willingness to appear on Gaffney’s radio show and affirm his notions that Muslims can’t be real Americans shows, Gaffney is not the pariah some in CPAC might contend he is. By way of another example, as I reported, Gaffney was appointed to the advisory board of the Clarion Fund, whose Islamophobic propaganda films have been promoted by current and former elected officials and the Republican Jewish Committee, and which plans to screen its latest documentary, Iranium, to lawmakers early next month.

Gaffney has been peddling the bogus claim that shari’ah law represents a real threat to the Constitution, and has called on Congress to “investigate” that as well. He employs someone who believes being Muslim should be criminalized. He brought that dog and pony show to Capitol Hill late last year for the benefit of House staffers, and spoke to a room of about 50 people. It surely is a deeply troubling development that King is cavorting with Gaffney and pontificating about the “Americanism” of American Muslims, in light of Gaffney’s agitation about fifth columns of shari’ah proponents bent on undermining the Constitution.

 

Jordan Sekulow: WaPo Blogger “Proud” to Have Shared Stage with Geert Wilders

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by loonwatch

An interesting blogpost by Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches.

WaPo Blogger Jordan Sekulow is proud to stand with Geert Wilders, if Washington Post has any self-respect they will fire him.

Washington Post Blogger “Proud” To Have Shared Stage With Geert Wilders

by Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches)

After Matt Duss called out new Washington Post blogger Jordan Sekulow at Think Progress and on Twitter for saying at a demonstration against the Park51 project, “Imam Rauf, America rejects you,” Sekulow responded by tweeting: “Enjoyed that speech!”

And in response to Duss pointing out that Sekulow shared the stage with far-right nationalist, anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Sekulow tweeted, “proud to.”

In one of the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, a U.S. embassy official in the Netherlands summed up Wilders for President Obama as “no friend of the U.S.”:

The Wilders Factor: Golden-pompadoured, maverick parliamentarian Geert Wilders, anti-Islam, nationalist Freedom Party remains a thorn in the coalition’s side, capitalizing on the social stresses resulting from the failure to fully integrate almost a million Dutch Muslims, mostly of Moroccan or Turkish descent. In existence only since 2006, the Freedom Party, tightly controlled by Wilders, has grown to be the Netherlands second largest, and fastest growing, party. Recent polls suggest it could even replace Balkenende,s Christian Democrats as the top party in 2011 parliamentary elections. Wilders is no friend of the U.S.: he opposes Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan; he believes development assistance is money wasted; he opposes NATO missions outside “allied” territory; he is against most EU initiatives; and, most troubling, he forments fear and hatred of immigrants.

Let’s sum up: the Post’s On Faith, which has a stated mission to promote “intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation,” has hired a blogger who describes himself as a “human rights attorney” yet is proud to share a stage with someone who “calls Islam ‘the ideology of a retarded culture’ and likens the Quran to ‘Mein Kampf.’”