Friday, April 22, 2011

More Highlights from Awakening 2011

(To read an earlier post on LGBT issues at Awakening 2011, click here.)

Awakening 2011, held at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA on April 8-9, drew attention not only because of homophobic comments made by attendees, but also because of conference speakers stances on education and reproductive issues.

As mentioned earlier, the conference held several workshops with anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood content. (See freedomfederation[dot]org/content/awakening_2011_schedule)

- "Exposing Planned Parenthood and Sex Trafficking"

- "Abortion: Ending the Holocaust and Defunding Planned Parenthood"

- "Hooking Up, Homosexuality, Pornography, Abortion, Sex Trafficking, and Cultural Engagement"

- Screenings of the film Maafa 21

Anti-abortion advocate Lila Rose, founder of LiveAction, spoke at Awakening 2011. According to the American Independent, Rose urged students to join the anti-abortion movement, which she called "the winning side" and "the side of life." The article also states that Rose accused Planned Parenthood of allegedly skirting mandatory reporting laws. When asked why LiveAction uses manufactured video evidence on its website, Rose asked if they should use real victims of abuse.

The American Independent also reported on a speech given by Janet Porter, founder and president of Faith2Action. Porter discussed Ohio Sub. H.B. 125, which would prohibit abortion of a fetus with a detectable heartbeat. Porter also claimed that Mike Huckabee supports the "heartbeat bill," according to this video excerpt of her talk. At the 0:42 mark of another video excerpt, Porter lambasted Roe v. Wade as allegedly unconstitutional, chiding anti-abortion advocates for worrying about the constitutionality of proposed anti-abortion legislation. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

"You know, it's interesting that those who are walking around saying, 'well it might be unconstitutional, and we better not do anything that's unconstitutional,' what they need to remember is it's Roe v. Wade that's unconstitutional. That's what's in violation of the Constitution. [Audience applauds.] What would they have said to slavery? They'd say, 'well, the Dred Scott decision, we'd better not challenge it because, you know, it might be unconstitutional. Those abolitionists, they're going too far because it's too early to end slavery.' It's absurd, the time is now. We're going to see the killing stop."
In a workshop entitled "Abortion: Ending the Holocaust and Defunding Planned Parenthood," attendees heard a talk by Rev. Johnny Hunter, national director of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN, Inc.). According to an article by the Florida Independent, Hunter claimed that " abortion is all about African-Americans," arguing that abortion providers allegedly target African-Americans and that white abortions are "collateral damage." He urged listeners to boycott Planned Parenthood and, like Porter, spoke of Roe v. Wade and the Dred Scott decision.

Other speakers at Awakening 2011 raised concern among progressives over church-state separation issues. For example, former Texas Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar, author of One Nation Under God: How the Left Is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great, gave a talk on faith and education. In an excerpt from the conference captured by Right Wing Watch, Dunbar discusses the role of "nature's God" in Texas educational standards. (Click here if you're having trouble viewing the video.)

"We have a Biblically illiterate society ... They're church-goers only. I call them CHINOs -- Christians in Name Only -- and that's what we have within our society. So then our laws reflect what our underlying worldview is. That's why we were framed as a nation on the laws of nature and nature's God. One of the things I required in the TEKS, in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, in the education requirement was that they had to learn certain things from our Declaration of Independence ... So for the next ten years, the students have to learn the Declaration of Independence, self-evident truths, inalienable rights, and the laws of nature and nature's God. So what are the laws of nature and nature's God? Why did Jefferson pick that term as opposed to natural law, which was the Enlightenment, French Revolution standard? The laws of nature is the will of our maker, and because of the fallen state of man, we have to have the laws of nature's God revealed through the holy scripture."
For additional news and commentary on Awakening 2011, visit the following links.

American Independent: At faith-based conference, Gingrich urges GOP to limit compromise in the ‘moral battle’ for the budget

American Independent: Senate candidates speak at faith-based conference, but Liberty U. says it’s not endorsing them

God Discussion: Bachmann Narrowly Wins Awakening 2011 Presidential Straw Poll


  1. "A Biblically Illiterate Society." I'm sure that's what the Unitarian/Deist Jefferson feared might happen to America, and therefore used the term "nature's god" in the Declaration.

    Amazing how they twist things.

  2. Women have aborted fetuses since long before the books of the bible were scribed. They will continue to do so, either with medical supervision or without it.

    And, if churchgoers are biblically illiterate, it is the fault of their preachers. Those who have been educated in seminary typically know much more about bible history than they are willing for their congregation to know. And that's because it's a job; nobody wants to educate themselves out of a job.

    If we don't trust politicians, generally, why should we trust them on matters of faith and spirituality? None of the positions of the Religious Right make sense to me. None.

  3. Donna Banta -- I'm amazed at the revisionist history that some right-wingers use to frame the U.S. as an supposedly Christian nation. And yes, you're right about Jefferson.

    Nance -- Oh, I definitely think a lot of Americans are Biblically illiterate, but not in the way that Dunbar means. Rather, I think a lot of Americans do not know much about the history of their religion and scriptures. If they did, they might see Religious Right rhetoric differently.

  4. "We have a Biblically illiterate society "

    That's the only way they keep people in the pews. The Bible makes more atheists than it does believers.

    I'm so sick of the anti-choicers pretending they give a damn about people of color. They don't care how many people are living in poverty, how many are imprisoned unfairly, how many are suffering from hunger, etc. This "save the black baybees" crap is just another cynical ploy to use a minority group to further their controlling, anti-woman agenda.

  5. In truth, all this nonsense is deeply rooted in the fear that women will finally be treated with full dignity and respect as people and thus have reproductive freedom -- like men always have had. And comparing abortion to slavery -- as if religious extremists like these RR individuals were leading the Civil Rights movement?? Now, THAT'S absurd.

    Regarding Biblical literacy, I wish more people were literate about that book they regard as holy yet hardly bother to read ... or to study its true origins. Fewer people would belong to the Religious Right.

  6. Buffy -- Agreed. Genuine concern for people of color needs to address poverty and injustice.

    Cognitive Dissenter -- I too scratched my head at the comparisons between abortion and slavery too, Apples and oranges.


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