Monday, February 27, 2012

All In Good Time

I've been busy as of late with work and family, so I've fallen behind with my blogging. A cluster of 2012 CPAC posts will be up soon, once I sift through all the CPAC video footage. In the meantime, please enjoy this video by Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

News Tidbits

Los Angeles Times: Rick Santorum rejects absolute separation of church and state

American Independent: Ex-gay movement deeply tied to marriage amendment push

Huffington Post UK: Oxford University Defends Decision To Host Christian Concern Conference Who Claim To 'Cure Homosexuality'

Edge Boston: Brazil’s Government: Televangelist Should Apologize for Anti-Gay Comments

Pink Paper: Mormons used influence to sabotage election campaign, gay Republican claims

The New Civil Rights Movement: Georgia Teacher Likens Gays To Necrophiliacs In House Testimony

Commentary Tidbits

Jean Hardisty: Exporting Right-Wing Christianity

Addicting Info: Priest Walks Out Of Woman’s Funeral Because Of Her Gay Daughter

Aljazeera: Rick Santorum's phony theology

Religion Dispatches: The Republican “No Schools Left” Program

Slate: The Consequences of Conscience-Based Sex Education

Salon: “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?”: Portrait of the artist as a young Pentecostal

Love, Joy, Feminism: Carefully scripted lives: My concerns about the Duggars

RH Reality Check: Four Ways to Show How the "Religious Liberty" Claim Against Contraceptive Coverage Is Nonsense

Secular Coalition for America: Secular Values are American Values
(Hat tip to Backwater Links)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

TheCry Hollywood Is Coming to California

TheCry Hollywood will take place on March 15th in Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, CA. In Canada, TheCry has hosted Christian prayer rallies not unlike TheCall, but this will be TheCry's first large-scale event outside of Canada. TheCry's events, as well as its leaders' reportedly dominionist rhetoric, have been documented by Dennis Gruending, Rick Hiebert and Religious Right Alert.

Materials advertising TheCry Hollywood emphasize the power and impact of the entertainment industry, and thus the importance of praying for God's influence upon it. According to its website, TheCry Hollywood will beseech God to bless those in the entertainment industry, pray for the release of "Holy Spirit inspired movies," and pray for the rescue of those involved in the sex industry. I'm admittedly puzzled by this last goal, as I do not see how it fits into TheCry Hollywood's entertainment-related theme.

In an invitation banner, TheCry Hollywood director Faytene Grasseschi discusses the objectives of the prayer rally.
"In 2001 our Prime Minister would not even mention the name of God at the 911 memorial -- he actually forbade it. Today, in 2012, Canada has a Prime Minister who is known for saying, "God bless you and God bless Canada." ... Long story short: we have literally seen the tide of a nation turn. We believe this can be directly attributed to the coordinated national prayer, reconciliation & blessing movement. God has put life and death in the power of our tongue ... Can you imagine with me what could happen if we could get hundreds of thousands of people with their hearts fixed and prayer, fasting and a spirit of faith towards Hollywood speaking life and blessing!? The potential is nothing short of massive."
At the 5:25 mark of an interview with It's Your Call, Faytene Grasseschi said that, "We're going to pray for Holy Spirit-inspired media to begin to impart family values ... and really believe God to move in this industry and in this city that touches the world."

Following the rally, the This Is That Conference will take place on March 16-17 at Angelus Temple. Scheduled conference speakers include Toure Roberts, Shawn Bolz, Patricia King, Faytene & Robert Grasseschi, Sean Feucht, and Fusion ministry director Rabbi Jason Sobel, who spoke at TheCall Detroit in November 2011.

Given my lack of familiarity with TheCry, I'm eager to find out what messages will characterize TheCry Hollywood. Will the rally adopt any stance on social issues as they relate to entertainment? Will the rally resemble American events such as the Response and various TheCall rallies? We'll see.

For more information on TheCry Hollywood, visit their website. For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Talk to Action: New dominionist effort to target Hollywood with prayer

Right Wing Watch: Targeting Hollywood with Spiritual Warfare

John Bevere on Americans' "Democratic Mindset"

Infidel753 recently posted a riveting commentary entitled "The Right Wing's Ancient Evil," in which he speculated that the Religious Right is warring against modernity. While wandering through the GOD TV archives, I stumbled upon John Bevere's talk at the Excel Conference: Authority and Submission in Scotland. Infidel's observations came to mind when Bevere condemned Americans' "democratic mindset" regarding spiritual matters at the 12:14 mark.
"I tell American people sometimes that they are some of the hardest people in the world to preach the things of God to, and you know why? The reason is very simple. We are a people trying to understand kingdom principles with a democratic mindset. The kingdom of God's not a democracy folks, and if you try to relate to God with a democratic mindset, you will be on a completely wrong playing field, and you will not get in touch."
In a sense, Bevere is correct. Old models of the divine-human relationship based on kingship, hierarchy, and domination contrast sharply with modern values such as democracy, equality, and self-determination. Those who embrace these values may well chafe at a divine-human relationship paradigm from a rigidly hierarchical era. Progressive theologians have been exploring new paradigms for human relationships with God, but fundamentalists cling to the image of God as king, lord, owner, master. Is it any wonder why such an ideological chasm separates fundamentalists from those who embrace modernity?

As a side note, I present this revealing comment from the 2:52 mark without comment.

"The greatest in the kingdom are those that are like little children. Little children don't question. Little children don't sit there and go, 'Well let's see if that's really the case. I gotta think about this.' You know, one of the greatest nations that we're preaching in right now is the nation of Australia ... When we go down there, it is the most amazing meetings, and the reason is they just sit there and say, 'Tell us. Whatever you tell us, we'll do it.' And you see, that what a child does. A child doesn't sit there and critique you and criticize you and try to find fault with what you say."
(See www[dot]god[dot]tv/node/4508)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Commentary Tidbits

Infidel753: The Right-Wing’s Ancient Evil

The Nation: The GOP’s Long War Against Women and Sex

Salon: “I don’t think Mr. Issa has ever taken birth control”

New York Times: Focus on Social Issues Could Shape Battle for Women

Washington Post: The GOP’s war on women and our right to self-defense

Tom the Dancing Bug: The Seeds of Discontent

The Guardian: Christians should unite with atheists to defend secularism

SPLC Hatewatch: After Debate With SPLC, a Professor Offers a Bizarre Take

Politicus USA: People Are Laughing at My Country – And They Should Be

Good As You: Baltimore Archbishop angry Maryland lawmakers altered his 'sacred union' views, abilities; fortunately for him, they didn't

Mother Jones: Santorum: Higher Education a Plot to Secularize America

AlterNet: The Republican Brain: Why Even Educated Conservatives Deny Science -- and Reality

News Tidbits Alabama legislation proposes off-campus religion classes for public school students

Baltimore Sun: Carroll sponsors employee class with biblical overtones

Pennlive: Rick Santorum opposes insurance-paid screenings for birth defects, saying they'll lead to abortions

Politico: Arlen Specter: Rick Santorum 'so far to the right'

Kera News: Craig James: Being Gay a "Choice"

Think Progress: Gov. McDonnell Says Marriage Equality Should Be Left To The States, But Claims Gays Make Inferior Parents

Edge Boston: UK Government Defends Catholic Schools’ ’Homophobic’ Booklet

The Advocate: Website: Make a Mormon “Gay for Eternity”

The Advocate: Family Research Council Clamoring to "Stop Fake Marriage"

American Independent: The rising power of crisis pregnancy centers

WVNS TV 59: Spare the Rod: Spanking in the Name of the Lord

My Fox Boston: Some say parenting book methods amount to child abuse

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quotes from the "Lines Crossed" Hearing, Part II

(To read about the first of two panels at the "Lines Crossed" hearing, click here)

On February 16th, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosted a hearing entitled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" (see here and here). The hearing followed a decision by the Obama Administration regarding contraception coverage by religious employers, which drew anger from some conservative religious figures. Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California, 49th District) drew fire from committee members and commentators over the hearing's preponderance of male witnesses, as well as his insistence that the hearing was about religious freedom rather than reproductive issues.

In the second half of the hearing, the committee heard testimony from additional speakers, including John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America. At the 10:05 mark, Garvey argued that the contraception coverage policy would force the university to contradict its own moral stance.
"We teach our students in our classes that marriage is a sacrament in which spouses share in the creative work of God. We teach that it's wrong for couples to close themselves off to the possibility of life. We teach that abortion is a grave wrong ... The rule forces the university to violate its convictions in two ways. First, it requires the university to pay for drugs and procedures that we view as morally wrong ... Second, the rule forces us to deny in one part of our operation what we affirm in another. We teach our students in our classes, in our sacraments, and in the activities of student life that sterilization and contraception and abortion are wrong. The rule requires our staff to offer these very services to our students as part of our health insurance program. It makes hypocrites of us in our moral teaching."
Garvey addressed the claim that wider contraception access would lead to fewer pregnancies and greater productivity, thereby saving money and offsetting the money a religious employer spends on contraception coverage. Not surprisingly, he dismissed this claim as a "shazam theory," insisting that the proposed cost savings were illusory. To boot, Garvey argued that the cost savings do not matter, since contraception coverage is still morally wrong in his eyes.

Another panelist, East Texas Baptist University president Dr. Dub Oliver, repeated a common misconception about emergency contraception. At the 31:18 mark, he mistakenly claimed that emergency contraception causes abortion.
"While many Christians do not share the Catholic beliefs against contraception, there is wide agreement that abortion is wrong, and we believe, based on the Bible, that life begins at conception. The administration's mandate covers emergency contraceptives  such as Plan B and Ella, which even this administration admits interfere with a human embryo. Our faith and the most recent science tell us that these drugs cause abortions, but under the administration's mandate, my university will be required to buy insurance so that our employees can obtain these drugs for free, as if there is no difference between these drugs and penicillin. We believe that is wrong."
Oliver was not the only panelist who cast emergency contraception in a negative light. Dr. Allison Garrett, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, also criticized the mandate to cover alleged "abortion-inducing drugs." Dr. Laura Champion, medical director health services of Calvin College, noted that Calvin College's student health plan does not cover Ella or Plan B. At the 42:51 mark, Champion insisted that "requiring coverage of abortion-causing drugs is a direct violation to the spiritual and behavioral standards that Calvin College expects of ourselves and our students."
However, according to Princeton University's emergency contraception website, emergency contraception prevents conception but does not abort an existing pregnancy.

As the panelists waxed poetic about religious freedom, I found myself asking, What about female employee's freedom to not get pregnant? What about couple's freedom to decide the size of their families? What about sexual assault victim's right to access emergency contraception? By narrowing the scope of the discussion to religious freedom, the panelists neglected the larger moral implications of their anti-contraception stance. To my disappointment, what could have been a nuanced panel discussion of faith, policy, and reproductive justice neglected key issues.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

ACLU: House Oversight Holds One-Sided Hearing on Contraception

AlterNet: Ten Deep Thoughts on the All-Male Panel on my Vagina

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Commentary Tidbits

A Feather Adrift: Read It and Weep, But Dammit, Read IT

Fallen from Grace: Does Evangelical Christianity Cause Emotional Damage? Parts I and II

Christian Science Monitor: Is Rick Santorum helped or hurt when he talks morality?

This Modern World: Sex Talk with Rick Santorum

Baltimore Sun: What's good for Fox News is bad for the country

Tbogg: Hairstyles Of The Defiant & The Godless

CNN: Contraceptives, religious freedom: Are we in a new culture war?

Aljazeera: Campaign against birth control is religious fanaticism

God Discussion: GOP Opposed Renewing the Violence Against Women Act, Because It Helps Too Many People

Truth Wins Out: What Really Happens in Reparative Therapy

Media Matters: Fox Hosts "Conservative Comedian" To Claim Obama Is "Faking" Being Christian"

RH Reality Check: The Dark Side of Mercy Ministries

News Tidbits

Edge Boston: 'Ex-Gay’ Movement on the Rise in Latin America

Edge Boston: Activists Protest Georgia "Ex-Gay" Conference

BBC News: Christian coalition petitions to stop gay marriage law in UK

NPR: Santorum Criticizes Obama's 'World View,' Not Faith

New York Times: Religious Groups Equate Some Contraceptives With Abortion

American Independent: Catholic university sues feds over birth control mandate

Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette: Lawmaker takes jab at Girl Scouts

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quotes from the "Lines Crossed" Hearing, Part I

(To read about the second half of the hearing, click here)

On February 16th, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosted a hearing entitled "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" Following the controversy over contraception coverage and religious employers, the hearing featured Christian and Jewish religious leaders, as well as academics, medical professionals, and a church-state separation advocate. The preponderance of male faces on a panel with such strong relevance to women's reproductive issues drew the ire of lawmakers and commentators alike.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland, 7th District), Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee, accused Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California, 49th District) of "promoting a conspiracy theory that the federal government is conducting a war against religion." Rep. Cummings reminded listeners of how contraception coverage impacts women, frowning on the absence of moderate religious groups on the panel. At the 11:25 mark, he had this to say.
"I know both through my faith and my legal training that we have an obligation as a nation to make accommodations when appropriate to avoid undue interference with the practice of religion. But there's another core interest we must consider, and that is the interest of women. The pill has had a profound impact on their well-being, far more than any man in this room can possibly know. It has allowed women to control their lives and make very personal decisions about how many children to have and when to have them. I think everyone understands what is going on here today. The chairman is promoting a conspiracy theory that the federal government is conducting a war against religion. He has stacked the hearing with witnesses who agree with his position. He has not invited Catholic Health Association, Catholic Charities, Catholics United, or a host of other Catholic groups that praised the White House for making the accommodation they made last week. He has also refused to allow a minority witness to testify about the interest of women who want safe and affordable coverage for basic preventive health care, including contraception. In my opinion, this committee commits a massive injustice by trying to pretend that the views of millions of women across this country are meaningless or worthless or irrelevant to the debate."
Rep. Cummings yielded the rest of his time to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York, 14th District), who soundly criticized the lack of female voices on the panel at the 13:14 mark.
"What I want to know is where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don't see one single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?"
Rep. Maloney dismissed Chairman Issa's claim that the hearing was simply about religious freedom, describing the high stakes for women at the 14:25 mark.
"Of course this hearing is about rights, contraception, and birth control. It's about the fact that women want to have access to basic health services, family planning through their health insurance plan, but some would prevent them from having it by using lawsuits and ballot initiatives in dozens of states to roll back the fundamental rights of women to a time when the government thought that what happened in the bedroom was their business and contraceptives were illegal. Tens of millions of us who are following these hearings lived through those times, and I can tell you with great certainty, we will not be forced back to that dark and primitive era."
The latter part of Rep. Maloney's speech was inaudible in the video, unfortunately.

Likewise, at the 25:54 mark, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois, 5th District) also criticized Chairman Issa for defining the hearing as one on religious freedom rather than reproductive matters.
"For you to decide what the issue is, others look at the same points of fact and say the issue is really this. If you talk about liberties and expressions, I think freedom of thought is as important as any that you've discussed ... That's suppressing that freedom of thought. It's this notion that one person, as fair as you might be attempting to be, is unilaterally deciding what the issue is, and the core here is -- and that's why there's so much controversy on this matter -- is that people see it in a different way, and until we get past that point, we're going to have problems."
Both Rep. Quigley and Rep. Eleanor Holmes (D-District of Columbia) were unhappy that the hearing had not included minority witness Sandra Fluke. Fluke, a student at Georgetown University Law Center and a prior president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, advocates for reproductive rights for women. In this video, Fluke laments the dire health consequences for women who cannot afford contraception because it is not covered by their insurance.

The panel of religious voices criticized the Obama administration's insurance accommodation in hyperbolic and sometimes unusual terms. Bishop William Lori of the Bridgeport diocese told a hypothetical story of a government mandate requiring food merchants to serve pork, and how offensive this mandate would be to Jewish delis and grocers. I personally found it offensive to hear the bishop compare access to contraception to access to ham sandwiches. After all, access to contraception prevents unwanted pregnancy and is used to treat various medical conditions, whereas ham sandwiches are merely a food choice.

Reverend Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, described the charitable work of Lutheran church in his opening statement. At the 41:49 mark, he insisted that his religious colleagues acknowledge separation of church and state.
"We haven't the slightest intent to Christianize the government ... We confess that there are two realms: the church and the state. They shouldn't be mixed. The church is governed by the word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution."
At the 43:22 mark, Rev. Harrison claimed that the consciences of people of faith could be "martyred" by insurance policies. His comments about "abortion-causing drugs" left me scratching my head, as the Obama administration's policy requires religious employers to offer insurance coverage for contraceptives.
"I'm here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is in part why we maintain our own health plan ... We are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer system."
Dr. Craig Mitchell of Southwester Baptist Theological Seminary claimed that the contraception coverage mandate flew in the face of religious freedom at the 59:04 mark.

"To be an American means that we stand for religious freedom. This mandate is contrary to everything that I and every other person who wore the uniform stands for, regardless of what their faith was. This is true of people who have no faith. It is inconceivable to me and many others that such a bald-faced attempt to step on the Constitution of this great country was even proposed ... This mandate, in the name of health care, seems designed to offend those who have religiously-informed moral sensibilities. Simply put, this mandate forces people to violate their consciences."

Stay tuned for more quotes from the hearing!

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Politico: Liberals: All-Male Contraception Hearing Will Damage GOP

Religion Dispatches: Democratic Women Walk Out of "Freedom of Religion" Hearing

RH Reality Check: Religious "Freedom" to Deny Women Health Care: The Ham Sandwich Defense

Commentary Tidbits

Mediaite: Glenn Beck Launches ‘We Are All Catholics Now’ Movement

The Atlantic Wire: 19 Kids and Counting Gets Stranger, Sadder

God's Own Party: Newt’s “Faith Freedom Coalition” a Gallery of Dominionist Power Brokers

Raw Story: 700 Club personality accused of stealing husband’s porn

Media Matters: Pat Buchanan: "My Days As A Political Analyst At MSNBC Have Come To An End"

Washington Post: Drumming up a phony war on religion

News Tidbits

Yahoo News: Vatican paper brands leakers irresponsible "wolves"

Gaithersburg Gazette: Maryland: Montgomery Board of Education could re-examine policy on fliers after PFOX blow-up

NPR: Elie Wiesel Shines Spotlight On Romney Over Controversial Mormon Practice

Alaska Dispatch: One Anchorage battle heats up as election approaches

American Independent: ACLU, Christian group oppose Florida school prayer bill

The Advocate: Martin Bashir Compares Santorum to Orwellian Figure

Pink Paper: Anti-equality Christians are like Muslims who want UK Sharia law, says Trevor Phillips

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

News Tidbits

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News: Protester tazed at Rick Santorum rally after chanting "gay marriage is OK"

The Advocate: Progressive Clergy: Get Perkins Off MSNBC

Washington Post: Nicki Minaj’s Grammy performance has angered the Catholic League

Huffington Post: Mormon Baptism Apology Issued to Family of Holocaust Survivor Simon Wiesenthal

Commentary Tidbits

Cognitive Discopants: Piper: When God Goes a-Slaughterin'

Confessions of a YEC: Catholic Views on Contraception

RH Reality Check: Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects While Obsessing About Birth Control

Be the Change: The Great Modesty Experiment

Natalie's Narrative: Myopia now ... empty pews later

CNN: Santorum's stone-age view of women

Salon: The Right's Lost Causes

Mother Jones: The GOP Plan To Give Your Boss "Moral" Control Over Your Health Insurance

People's Prayer Breakfast Offers Alternative to National Prayer Breakfast

(To read about President Obama's speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, click here. To read about Eric Metaxas' speech, click here.)

As discussed in a prior post, Occupy Faith D.C. hosted the People's Prayer Breakfast on February 2nd at the Church of the Pilgrims in Washington D.C. Intended as an alternative to the elite National Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Fellowship Foundation (a.k.a. the Family), the People's Prayer Breakfast was predicated on the belief that "there is enough for everyone."

At a January 30th press conference announcing the People's Prayer Breakfast, Pastor Brian Merritt of the Palisades Community Church argued that "prayer is not necessarily about access," but about connection to something greater. He issued a challenge to all people of faith to let prayer lead them toward action.
"As synagogues, mosques, temples and churches deal with the fallout of another foreclosure, another unemployed member of our community, the crushing debt laid upon the young adult feeds. We will no longer be silent, because we believe that prayer connects us to something much greater than ourselves."
A gentleman in the audience asked Mr. Merritt is atheists and agnostics were welcome, and he and other clergy responded that they were.

E. Gail Anderson, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church and president of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, elaborated on the spirit of the People's Prayer Breakfast at the 4:12 mark.
"We stand in solidarity for this prayer service. We stand because we believe that prayer changes things and obviously some things need to be changed in our society. Some things need to be changed in terms of the ninety-nine percent who are suffering and the one percent who are sitting back with their legs up looking at us suffer ... All of God's people ought to have a say-so in what happens in his country, because he gave it to us. He did not give it to one percent. He gave it to the hundred percent."
Rev. Grayland Hagler mused on the "hypocrisy of prayer" at the 8:18 mark, criticizing those who misuse prayer to shirk off their responsibilities to the community.
"You have folks that pray and then don't do anything to change any circumstances of the individual, of the community. You've got people who pray as a way of feigning that they're doing something when they know full well they're not going to do anything anyway. And then the other side of the hypocrisy of prayer are those who have deliberately stolen, those who have deliberately oppressed, those who have deliberately destroyed, but yet they're going to say a sanctimonious prayer for those whom they have oppressed, destroyed, and exploited. I've got a problem with this hypocritical way of prayer. You know, yes, we're doing an alternative event because who's going to be represented at the other events is really those purveyors and those representatives of the one percent. And then there's all the rest of us that really in our ministries, we have to deal with every day those who are broken by the one percent."
Rev. Hagler lamented that religion in America has been "hijacked" by those who want to keep people apathetic. He also expressed disgust at the intimacy between government and big business at the 9:54 mark.
"We know that democracy in this nation right now is predicated upon who's got the dollar bill. You know, every oil company can go up to Congress and have their way. Every big business can go up there and even write the legislation for themselves."
The prayer breakfast itself featured words from diverse faith leaders in the Washington D.C. area. Thanks to the work of the Occupy People, video excerpts of the event are available for viewing on YouTube. Andrea Palma, a Vajrayana Buddhist nun of Kunzang Palyul Choling shared a Buddhist aspirational prayer and lead three minutes of silence (see here). Ysaye Maria Barnwell, a member of music group Sweet Honey in the Rock, lead spirited singing (see here). Attendees engaged in group discussions on justice, revealing the breakfast's participatory nature.

At the 3:50 mark of this video, Rev. Tara James Lee of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church of D.C. framed the People's Prayer Breakfast as an opportunity for unity, acknowledging the "powerful witness" going on at the National Prayer Breakfast.
"One of the gifts of spiritual formation, or as you want to offer prayer, is that it's truly an opportunity to unite and to bridge. And so we do not want to not acknowledge a powerful witness of prayer action is also going up just up the hill at the Hilton Hotel. And we believe that all of our prayers together are going towards the concerns of all of us in this country."
Progressive commentators took notice of the People's Prayer Breakfast, praising it as an egalitarian contrast to the National Prayer Breakfast and a place of hope.

- In a commentary at the Huffington Post, Christian social activist Jeremy John contrasted the spirit of the National Prayer Breakfast with that of the People's Prayer Breakfast. He asked if Jesus cavorted with the powerful or cultivated relationships with the tyrants of his time, such as Herod and Pilate. He grieved that political leaders do not hear the prayers of the poor, but rather the calls of corporate interests, Doug Coe, and the Family "because they offer connections, votes and money.".

- Writing for Sojourners, Jack Palmer celebrated the People's Prayer Breakfast as a place to hear "words of hope, energy, and defiance." He was pleased that the event did not descend into hostility toward the National Prayer Breakfast.

- Pro-LGBT Christian group More Light Presbyterians contrasted the People's Prayer Breakfast's focus on economic inequality with the National Prayer Breakfast's "invitation-only, $650-a-plate" affluence. The post noted that gay and lesbian families face a disproportionate burden when it comes to economic inequality, accusing the Family of opposing LGBT equality at home and abroad.

- In a February 2nd post at the Wild Hunt, Jason Pitzl-Waters describes the National and People's Prayer Breakfasts not only as two contrasting events, but as "two competing views of our nation."

"One favors gathering power and establishing Christianity as the focal point of national unity, while the other opens its doors to all faiths, and concerns itself with those who aren’t being served or supported by our current system. One is about back room deals, while the other is about “breakout sessions.” ... Eventually, with enough work, perhaps we can build a large enough interfaith coalition to challenge The Family’s Prayer Breakfast, to provide a robust counter-narrative that is truly in the grand spirit of our secular nation."

To read more about the 2012 People's Prayer Breakfast, visit the following links.

Huffington Post: National Prayer Breakfast Gets A Rival: The People's Prayer Breakfast

WAMU 88.5: People's Prayer Breakfast Speaks To Social Justice

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 National Prayer Breakfast: Right-Wing Voices Criticize Obama's Speech

(To read about Eric Metaxas' speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, click here.)

On February 2nd, the 60th Annual National Prayer Breakfast took place in the Hilton Washington in Washington D.C. Hosted by Fellowship Foundation (a.k.a. The Family), a Washington D.C.-based Christian group, the National Prayer Breakfast has been attended by national and world leaders since it was first established in 1953. President Barack Obama spoke at the event, offering his insights into faith and leadership.

At the 1:10:59 mark, President Obama stressed the importance of values in leadership while acknowledging that personal faith alone cannot define policy in a pluralistic society.
"We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can't dictate our response to every challenge we face, but in my moments of prayer, I'm reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others. We can't leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union."
At the 1:13:42 mark, he cited the Golden Rule as a principle behind fair policies, noting that the Golden Rule appears in other world religions.
"When I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren't discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren't taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it'll make the economy stronger for everybody, but I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself. I know that a version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs, from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato."
One would think that President Obama's openness about his Christian faith and the importance of values would be warmly received by religious conservatives. Predictably, some voices on the right were critical.

- CBS Atlanta reports that Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) walked out during President Obama's speech. In a statement at his website, Rep. Gingrey was offended by Obama's supposed use of the event for "partisan politics and class warfare," and discouraged President Obama from allegedly using "campaign rhetoric" at future prayer breakfasts. (See gingrey[dot]house[dot]gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=IZ43KGNOCADEBSLB3AAWYO6O5A)

- Raw Story reports that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) complained that the president allegedly used a non-partisan prayer breakfast to "promote his political agenda." Sen. Hatch was annoyed that the president supposedly claimed that Jesus would have endorsed "his latest tax-the-rich schemes."

- In a February 3rd column at the Washington Times, Carla Garrison claimed that President Obama "misrepresented" Luke 12:48 ("unto whom much is given, much shall be required."). Garrison argued that Jesus taught separation between the responsibilities of government, church, and family, insisting that services Obama wants to fund with taxes are outside the realm of government. The president, she wrote, seemed to reveal a "pagan philosophy" for government, rather than one undergirded by Judeo-Christian ideas. (See communities[dot]washingtontimes[dot]com/neighborhood/truth-be-told/2012/feb/3/president-obama-misrepresents-teachings-jesus-nati/)

- In a February 4th commentary at Renew America, Michael Bresciani claimed that the "subtle infusion of Obama's politics" filled the room during his speech. Many of the religious leaders President Obama referred to in his speech were "apostate" and "liberal," Bresciani wrote, inclined to abandon Biblical mandates. (See www[dot]renewamerica[dot]com/columns/bresciani/120204)

You just can't win with some people. For years, members of the Religious Right have cited scripture and appealed to God to justify their positions, but the president's references to God and scripture are condemned. The irony is stunning.

To read additional news, visit the following links.

Voice of America: Obama: Religious Faith Helps Guide His Decisions

NPR: Obama Draws on Faith at Prayer Breakfast

CNN: Obama reflects on faith in prayer breakfast speech

Saturday, February 11, 2012

2012 National Prayer Breakfast: Eric Metaxas on Faith and Social Issues (UPDATED)

(To read about President Obama's speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, click here.)

On February 2nd, the 60th Annual National Prayer Breakfast took place in the Hilton Washington in Washington D.C. Hosted by Fellowship Foundation (a.k.a. The Family), a Washington D.C.-based Christian group, the National Prayer Breakfast has been attended by national and world leaders since it was first established in 1953. President Obama spoke at this year's event, as did several lawmakers and Christian author Eric Metaxas. As mentioned in a previous post, Jeff Sharlet described the Fellowship Foundation and the National Prayer Breakfast in his 2008 book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

The Fellowship Foundation has come under scrutiny in regards to a draconian anti-gay bill currently under consideration in Uganda. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleged that members of the Fellowship Foundation pushed for the anti-gay bill, while Warren Throckmorton wrote that his contacts with the Fellowship Foundation were uniformly opposed to the bill. GetEqual protested outside the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2nd, accusing the Fellowship Foundation of having connections to homophobia.

The event's opening speakers mused on faith, inclusion, and leadership. In his introductory remarks, National Prayer Breakfast co-chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) stressed the radical inclusion of Jesus of Nazareth at the 3:00 mark.
"In my faith walk as I've studied the life of Jesus, it seems his approach was always to see the people who were considered to be outsiders or had withdrawn, and to bring them all in. All those lepers and Samaritans and disabled people and poor people and folks like the woman at the well. They had been pushed out or had withdrawn, and Jesus brought them. in I think that's the kind of approach we want to embrace in this breakfast and everything that flows out of it. We want to bring everyone in and to be in harmony with God's will and share in God's love."
At the 27:00 mark, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina, 7th District) spoke of the importance of praying for government officials, plugging the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
"Like Nehemiah in the Old Testament, we want to build a wall of prayer around our nation's capital, and you can put a stone or a brick in that wall of prayer, if you will, each week by taking five minutes to join us in prayer, and you can choose the time. If you go to the Congressional Prayer Caucus website ... It is that important because, you see, the true source of power is not found in the halls of Congress or in the Oval Office of the west wing, or in the chambers of the Supreme Court. It's found on our knees before the throne of grace of the almighty God, asking for his help."
Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, gave an eloquent talk at the National Prayer Breakfast before President Obama. I admit that I listened to Metaxas' talk with mixed feelings, as there was much to like and dislike in his speech. On one hand, I found his rejection of empty religiosity and reverence for social justice highly appealing. On the other hand, his conservative stance abortion and marriage, as well as statements implying that moral breakthroughs are due to divine intervention, left me cold.

Commentary Tidbits

Ward Gossip: Dropping the Satire Just for Today

Huffington Post: Evolution Weekend: Protecting Both Religion and Science

RH Reality Check: Wisconsin Set to Overturn Healthy Youth Act in Favor of Abstinence-Only Programming

Aljazeera: Susan G Komen: The tip of the iceberg

Women's eNews: Susan G. Komen's Apolitical Pink Turns Red

-- Don't forget to check out this Doonesbury comic strip too! --

News Tidbits

CNN: Catholic bishops group denounces contraception compromise

BBC News: Christian hotel owners lose gay couple appeal

Georgia Voice: LGBT groups to protest ‘Love Won Out’

La Stampa: The Devil Makes Him Do It: Meet the Vatican's In-House Exorcist

Florida Courier: Paula White apologizes to Florida rabbi, Florida Courier publisher after ‘scroll-wrapping’ video surfaces

Lapin Looks Askance at Secularism, Birth Control, "Sexual Depravity"

On the February 7th edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk, Focus of the Family founder James Dobson interviewed Rabbi Daniel Lapin as part of "The Battle for Civilization" series. Lapin, president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, reportedly had ties with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and participated in Glenn Beck's 2010 Divine Destiny revival. Additionally, he has a history of unkind comments about gaysanimal rights, and "secular liberal males," according to Right Wing Watch. Throughout Family Talk, Lapin painted secularism in ominous colors and decried the alleged role of changing sexual attitudes in societal decay.

Dobson set the tone of the interview at the 0:25 mark when described modern society as in decline.
"It is no secret to any of us that the American way of life such as it's been known for generations is under attack today. At least that's what we believe. The Judeo-Christian system of values on which this country, and truly much of Western civilization, have been founded are threatened on a number of different fronts."
Much of Lapin's talk revolved around the alleged dangers of secularism and the degeneration of society. For instance, at the 3:06 mark, Lapin explained that he and his wife homeschooled their seven children to shield them from "the sordid stain of secularism" in public schools.
"We realized that sending them off for the best part of every day to fall under the influence of a system that is fundamentally spreading the sordid stain of secularism, essentially a public educational system that has as one of its prime purposes the obliteration of faith, that seemed to me to be an incredibly self-destructive act after we've invested so much of ourselves ... into these children."
Throughout the show, Lapin's distaste for secularism was clear. At the 16:32 mark, he demonized secularism as a "sinister and aggressive religion" bent on the obliteration of faith.
"You don't see secularism as a sort of benign, comfortable absence of religion. On the contrary, when you see that secularism is actually a very sinister and aggressive religion all on its own ... if you are a secular fundamentalism, then yes, you do need to obliterate all evidence of competing religions, and Christianity of course is the most conspicuous of the competing religions. And so obviously a prayer to the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be removed from schools. Praying to Jesus Christ, yes, must be stopped and eliminated."
In line with Lapin's contempt for secularism was his positive opinion of school prayer, whose demise in the U.S. he lamented. At the 13:40 mark, he suggested that school prayer is not an assault on anyone's rights, stunned that anyone would be opposed to school prayer.
"Prior to the Supreme Court rulings in that period, it was unthinkable. I mean, nobody ever thought that there was anything problematic--I know so many Jews of that generation who said, 'Of course we all said prayer in public school. So what? It was wonderful. It was not a bad thing.' And all of a sudden, over a span of terrifyingly few decades, people have been trained to consider prayer as a violent assault that challenges your rights to, what? Secularism?"
Like other voices from the Religious Right, Lapin help up Biblical knowledge as paramount. At the 9:15 mark, Lapin lamented that "timeless truths" from the Torah have been rendered "unpopular" in modern society. Amusingly, he suggested that this is the first generation in all of human history that considers itself sophisticated despite its alleged lack of Biblical knowledge.
"Christians ... during the colonial period were deeply aware of the permanent principles and the timeless truths to be found in the Torah, and they implemented them to build the society. And as the society has become more secularized and these timeless truths have been stripped one by one from the culture and made unpopular, to the point where interestingly enough we are now in the very first generation in all of human history ... this is the first generation where people, there are people in America today who consider themselves educated and sophisticated ... and yet they are utterly and sublimely clueless about the Bible. There's never been people who dared to consider themselves educated and yet who were ignoramuses Biblically."
Um, Rabbi Lapin? You do know that countless societies existed long before the Bible was compiled? And that many non-Christian and non-Jewish societies have existed across the globe? Were they uneducated and unsophisticated by default, despite their impressive contributions to history? To boot, Lapin's assumption that well-read, cosmopolitan people aren't truly "educated and sophisticated" unless they are knowledgeable about the Bible was extremely condescending.

In keeping with Religious Right rhetoric, Lapin pointed to sexual practices he disagreed with as culprits for a host of social ills. During a discussion of the roots of societal decline, Lapin attributed the emergence of the birth control pill to the alleged rise of "perpetual male adolescence." At the 11:35 mark, he had this to say.
"Perhaps one of the notable events ... was the arrival of the birth control tablet in the 1960s. And what that did for the very first time is it created the possibility of perpetual male adolescence. It made it possible for the first time for men to really never grow up and essentially it transformed masculinity and with all the implications of honor and respect and courage and the ability to defer gratification, everything that we think of as responsible masculinity got transformed into a very simple question: did you remember to take your pill, honey?"
Lapin conflates male responsibility with delaying sex, and delaying sex with the absence of birth control. The idea that birth control use is a form of responsibility meant to prevent unwanted pregnancy was not considered, nor was the idea that men can embody "honor and respect and courage" and have non-procreative sex. To boot, Lapin neglects contraception's immensely positive impacts on women, allowing them to enjoy intimacy while postponing or foregoing childbearing. This, in turn, allows them to cultivate other realms of their lives such as education, career, and community life.

Similarly, Lapin claimed that removing faith and Biblical wisdom from society heralded a tide of abortion, homosexuality, and changing sexual attitudes. Describing "sexual depravity" as the "barometer of a failure of a culture to control its basic instincts," he had this to say at the 21:20 mark.
"There is only one force powerful enough to combat the pull toward sensuality. Only one force powerful enough to defeat the compelling urge of rising sap in adolescent bodies, and that is God's power, the power of faith, and the wisdom of the Bible. When you strip that out of a society, you start off gradually with the violation of sexual mores, which we found during the Sixties and Seventies. It follows on with abortion, which is of course just another way of furthering if you like the sexual revolution, and then finds full expression in homosexuality which is ultimately the freest form of sex there is."
In keeping with familiar right-wing tropes, Lapin looks askance at secularism, contraception, and homosexuality as supposedly corrosive to a sound society. Instead of recognizing church-state separation, reproductive autonomy, and LGBT inclusion as positive developments, Lapin excludes them from his vision of an ideal society.

To listen to the broadcast, click here

(Hat tip to Right Wing Watch)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

News Tidbits

C-SPAN: Catholic Students Respond to HHS and Catholic Bishops on Contraception

Washington Post: White House seeks to soothe concerns over contraception rule

CNN: Santorum slams Romney on contraception mandate for rape victims

Washington Post: ‘God’ reference removed from Air Force office

Pink News: Ex-gays claim ‘illegal discrimination’ over flyers

Pink News: New York Rabbi Yehuda Levin: Cure gays with chemicals

American Independent: Bachmann backs Minnesota anti-gay marriage amendment, says same-sex marriage is like incest

Edge Boston: US Court Sides With CDC Over Fight With Counselor

Commentary Tidbits

Whatever Works: Where Are the Women? Parts I, II, III, and IV

Raw Story: ‘Romney Condoms’ offer protection for the ‘elite penis’

Right Wing Watch: Steve King and White Nationalist CPAC Panel Warn that America's Greatest Threat is its Diversity

Constance Johnson at the Guardian: About my 'spilled semen' amendment to Oklahoma's Personhood bill

Fallen from Grace: The Catholic Church, Catholic Women, and Birth Control

Mother Jones: The Republican War on Contraception

Aljazeera: Planned Parenthood pulls a 'Buffy' on the Right

Salon: The making of gay marriage’s top foe

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

California's Proposition 8 Ruled Unconstitutional

On February 7th, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California's Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriage) was unconstitutional. An article in the Washington Post suggests that the decision could take the same-sex marriage issue all the way to the Supreme Court, but other news articles note that this is not certain.

Tuesday's decision is a milestone for the struggle for LGBT equality, and I hope the ruling has a wider policy impact. Predictably, anti-LGBT voices from the right are less than thrilled.

- In a February 8th blog post at the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) website, executive director Brian S. Brown claimed that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges " decreed themselves to be the supreme overlords of the people." Unhappy that the judges had allegedly invalidated millions of Californians' vote, Brown framed the ruling as an affront to the American founders. (See www[dot]nomblog[dot]com/19061/)
"Not only must our founding fathers be rolling over in their graves with the preposterous notion that marriage is unconstitutional, but the ruling is an affront to the millions of Americans—the vast majority of the nation—who recognize that man does not have the right to redefine marriage. After all, how can federal judges redefine something that man didn't create?"
- In a February 7th statement at the Concerned Women for America website, CEO Penny Nance called the decision "a new low" for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, accusing it of disregarding the Constitution and the will of the voters. (See www[dot]cwfa[dot]org/content.asp?id=20901)
"Our experiences have shown us, as science proves, that the best environment for children to develop as productive members of our society is in a home where there is a mother and a father who love them and each other unconditionally. Yet with a stroke of the pen these three judges have undermined the foundations of the family and liberty."
- In a February 7th press release, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the decision "disappointing" and an act of "judicial tyranny." Perkins painted the decision as a "Hollywood-funded lawsuit, which seeks to impose San Francisco values on the entire country." (See www[dot]frc[dot]org/newsroom/family-research-council-criticizes-ninth-circuit-ruling-to-overthrow-definition-of-marriage)

- In a statement at his website, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum lambasted the decision as one of many "radical activist rulings by this rogue circuit." He accused the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of ignoring the will of the people, adding that the country cannot have "50 different definitions of marriage." (Hat tip to the Advocate. See www[dot]ricksantorum[dot]com/pressrelease/santorum-responds-proposition-8-ruling)

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Media Matters: O'Reilly: Ruling Striking Down Prop 8 Is "Judicial Activism"

Freak Out Nation: Proposition 8 Ruled as Unconstitutional, NOM Has a Hissy Fit

Huffington Post: Proposition 8 Ruling Prompts Outpouring of Political Reaction

Commentary Tidbits

News Tidbits

IOL News: Pope urges renewal at Vatican abuse summit

BBC News: US Catholics angry at contraception rule

Christian Science Monitor: Abortion, birth control becoming major campaign issues

Pink Paper: Miley Cyrus targeted by Christian bigots over same-sex marriage support

Vancouver Sun: Evangelical group targets schools

NPR: Controversial Komen Policy Official Resigns

CNN: Bishop Eddie Long apologizes to Jewish group after Torah ceremony

Ms. Magazine: South Dakota House Committee Strikes Down CPC False Advertising Bill

Behind the Mask: Uganda's "Kill the Gays" Bill Firmly Back on Parliament's Agenda

The Independent: Prominent Tory disowns 'religious right' and supports gay marriage

American Independent: Navigating anti-abortion online strategy

Politico: John Fleming links to Onion story on Facebook

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

University Offers Emergency Contraception Through Vending Machine

According to the Associated Press, students at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania can now purchase Plan B (a form of emergency contraception) for $25 through a on-campus vending machine. The vending machine at the university's Etter Health Center dispenses condoms, pregnancy tests, Plan B, and other medication.

According to ABC News, Vice President for Student Affairs Roger Serr said that the vending machine was installed upon the request of the student association, and after a survey found that 85% of students questioned were in favor of it. Also, according statement from Mr. Serr, the vending machine is located in a private room of the campus health center, accessible only to students. Students must check in with identification at a check-in desk before they can access the machine.

Plan B is a form of emergency contraception meant to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Emergency contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, according to the Princeton University's Emergency Contraception Website. Contrary to myth, emergency contraception does not induce abortion of an existing pregnancy and is not the same as the abortion pill. As reproductive rights activists and sexual assault advocates have noted, emergency contraception is an option for rape victims and is offered as part of sexual assault forensic exams.

As Republic of Gilead has observed before, several voices from the Religious Right have looked askance at emergency contraception (see here, here, and here). Not surprisingly, several right-wing voices disapproved of Shippensburg University's new service.

- In a February 7th blog post, Students for Life claimed that Shippensburg University is "offering curbside abortions" by offering this service. Demonizing Plan B as a "lethal drug" and an "abortion pill," the author expressed dismay that emergency contraception was being sold through a vending machine without a doctor's exam. (See studentsforlife[dot]org/2012/02/07/shippensburg-university-press-a1-for-a-coke-a2-for-an-abortion/)
"Shippensburg University’s decision to sell Plan B – an emergency contraception that results in the murder of pre-born children and can be dangerous to women – in a vending machine on campus is reflective of how dangerous the disease of abortion has become.  This is a dire reflection of how quickly the pro-life movement must take action to change the hearts and minds of college students before the abortion industry and their allies in  liberal academia are able to indoctrinate them with the abortion industry’s propaganda."
- In a recent Washington Update, Family Research Council called the service "a shocking way to normalize a drug like Plan B" and repeated the claim that Plan B allegedly causes early abortions. (See www[dot]frc[dot]org/washingtonupdate/churches-walk-a-fined-line)

- Anti-abortion groups Bound 4 Life is unhappy with the new service. In a February 6th post at the Bound 4 Life Moral Outcry blog, Susan Michelle claims that Plan B is considered by "many" to be an "early abortion pill." Michelle also complains that local minors could have access to Plan B. (See bound4life[dot]com/blog/2012/02/06/campus-vending-machine-sales-of-plan-b-raise-a-bigger-question-of-underage-access)
"If anyone can come into a lobby and use a vending machine, rather than go through a pharmacist, what’s to prevent local kids from coming in town? ... What about local meets of high school and junior high athletes or academic competitions? Most colleges host outside visitors ... It’s really pretty easy to get anywhere on a college campus if you know how to blend in.  And now this public university has managed to give any local visitor who wants it access to a very controversial pill than even a pro-abortion admiration decided wasn’t safe to allow to just anyone."
As mentioned above, a statement from Shippensburg University Vice President for Student Affairs Roger Serr indicated that students would have to check-in and present identification at the health center in order to access the vending machine. Plan B would not be available to "any local visitor."

To my disappointment, right-wing voices are not only promoting tired myths about emergency contraception and abortion, but ignoring the benefits of this service. Students will now have easier access to a medication that can prevent unwanted pregnancy, which is a positive development. Despite Religious Right suspicion of emergency contraception, progress marches on.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Slate: University Selling "Morning-After" Pill From Vending Machine

Jezebel: University Scandalizes Everyone With Whorish Plan B Vending Machine

Saturday, February 4, 2012

News Tidbits

CNN: Bishop Eddie Long Crowned "King"

Washington Post: Vatican to Host Global Summit on Sexual Abuse

Christian Science Monitor: FCC: Chicago station can drop graphic anti-abortion ad during Superbowl

Edge Boston: Catholic Church Raised $750K for Minn. Marriage Amendment

The Advocate: Minister Calls Pro-Equality Starbucks “Hater of God”

Commentary Tidbits

Groping the Elephant: President Obama's Religious Outlook

Rolling Stone: One Town's War on Gay Teens

The Atlantic: Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood Cave-In

The New Civil Rights Movement: Top 10 Most-Offensive Things About Anti-Gay Tennessee Senator Campfield (That You Didn’t Already Know)

Huffington Post: Sit-Ins for Stacey

CPAC 2012 Is Just Around the Corner!

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will take place on February 9-11 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C. I had the opportunity to observe CPAC in 2011 (see here and here), and like the Values Voters Summit, it offers a glimpse into the American right.

A vertitable who's who of conservatives, CPAC's confirmed speakers this year include current and former political figures such as Speaker of the House John Boehner, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. Also in the CPAC line-up are Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, prolific mother Michelle Duggar, and commentator Ann Coulter, among many others.

According to the 2012 CPAC schedule of events, a number of workshops and panel discussions will focus on themes we've come to expect.

- In the Name of “Tolerance”: Countering Sexual Identity Politics in Schools & Wait No More

- Why are U.S. taxpayers spending billions to promote abortion and homosexuality worldwide?

- The Phony Divide Between Fiscal & Social Conservatives: Protecting Marriage as a Case Study

- Return of Big Labor: What Can We Learn from Wisconsin & Ohio?

- The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American identity

- Taking Back Wall Street: The Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street

- Advancing the Pro-Life Movement through Media

CPAC 2012 will also screen multiple films, including the following.

- Fire From the Heartland: The Awakening of the Conservative Woman, a Citizens United production featuring Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and antifeminist Phyllis Schlafly. (See firefromtheheartland[dot]com)

- The Gift of Life, an anti-abortion film from Citizens United narrated by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. (See thegiftoflifemovie[dot]com)

- Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, a film about American decline and founding principles featuring Kirk Cameron. (See www[dot]monumentalmovie[dot]com)

For additional information, visit cpac2012[dot]

To download the CPAC schedule of events, visit cpac2012[dot]conservative[dot]org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Schedule-Of-Events_Latest.pdf.

For additional news and commentary, visit the following links.

The Advocate: Fred Karger Accuses CPAC of Illegal "No Gays Allowed" Policy

Huffington Post: Sarah Palin To Be Keynote Speaker At 2012 CPAC Conference

Mother Jones: CPAC Cosponsor: Nelson Mandela a "Bloodthirsty Terrorist"