Thursday, December 31, 2015

Republic of Gilead 2015 Retrospective

I'm amazed at all the joyful, heartbreaking, and controversial events that took place in 2015. The Religious Right had a busy year, but fortunately so did its opponents. Let's look back on Republic of Gilead's coverage of events in 2015.

The Catholic Church

  • The Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Culture hosted a plenary assembly on "Women's Cultures" on February 4-7. The misguided conference was a laughing stock.

  • Pope Francis launched a new tribunal intended to hear cases of bishops who failed to protect children and vulnerable adults from clergy sexual abuse.

  • In June, the Catholic Church officially released Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. Some right-wing figures looked askance at the encyclical.

  • In September, Pope Francis visited the United States, making stops in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. Clergy abuse and the environment were among the issues he discussed.

Reproductive Rights

  • An anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress launched a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, accusing the organization of selling fetal tissue for profit. The smear campaign revitalized anti-abortion activism in the U.S.



LGBTQ Equality

Anti-LGBTQ Activism

The Christian Patriarchy Movement

I want to thank all my readers for visiting Republic of Gilead in 2015. Let's continue to warily watch the Religious Right in 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

News Tidbits

Kansas City Star: Thousands seeking renewal arrive in Kansas City for International House of Prayer conference

Kansas City Star: Photo gallery: International House of Prayer conference

Washington Post: Ted Cruz huddles with faith leaders at ranch of super PAC donor

Religion News Service: Ed Dobson, retired pastor and onetime Moral Majority leader, dies at 65

Talking Points Memo: Longtime Duggar Ally Mike Huckabee Says He Never Supported Son Josh

In Touch Weekly: Civil Lawsuit Against Josh Duggar May Lead to Prison Stint 

Commentary Tidbits

Right Wing Watch: Kevin Swanson: Hillary Clinton Will Lead 'Tremendous Majorities of American Kids' To Homosexuality

US Weekly: Why Anna Won't Leave

Green Eagle: Fascism? 

Stonekettle Station: War Face

American Pastors Network's Sam Rohrer on Islam and the End Times

Sam Rohrer, president of the American Pastors Network and the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, appeared on a recent edition of Focus Today. Hosted by Perry Atkinson, Focus Today is a talk show offered by the Dove, a Christian media network. During their chat, Rohrer veered into talk of the End Times and called Islam a "counterfeit" religion born from the "lies of the Devil". Rohrer and Atkinson's strange conversation reminds us how fundamentalist religion can prevent observers from making sound observations about world events.

At the 1:02 mark, Rohrer complained that only a "remnant" of people still cling to Christian faith, and that world leaders have ignored "the authority of God".
All of those who I call part of the remnant, all of those still hold to the concept that there is God, that he is the creator, that there is such a thing as the fall and sin, and there is redemption through Jesus Christ, that is what I just said, a true biblical worldview.

For those who hold to a biblical world view, it's very clear that as a culture, that as a world, as the world leaders as we watch them, there is a marked departure from the authority of who God is, the reality of who God is, the fact that God is a judge, that there is, in fact, sin, and in fact, have embraced this--we call postmodern mindset ... It really is what Romans 1 talks about, people really having knowledge of God, have purposely denied it, rejected it, and in fact, done what the Devil himself did way back in the beginning, and that is they believe themselves to become little gods.
The discussion turned to global events and how developments in Russia, China, and Iran are "reflective" of Ezekiel 38 and 39. At the 2:49 mark, Rohrer and Atkinson wondered if current events were portents of the End Times.
ATKINSON: Part of [the problem that] ... Christians are wrestling with is the condition of the world now part, literally part of the End Times, which suggests that it's fulfilling Bible prophesy and Bible signs by everything going crazy, so why try to interrupt it? Why try to change it? Has that nullified us? Has that put us in neutral?

ROHRER: Well, you know what? I think that's a great question, Perry, because in reality, what we say is it's not possible to properly evaluate the circumstances of the day, and of the world, what's happening in the Middle East right now as we speak as an example--it's not possible to accurately look at these things without looking at it in light of biblical prophesy. At the end of the day, the whole history of mankind is about God's plan of redemption from the beginning in the Fall, working itself through ultimately when he comes back and he reigns physically in Jerusalem ... To not understand God's plan is to be ignorant ... It's not possible either to look at where we are without saying these are indicators of the End Days, but actually, the disciples thought they were in the End Days then ...
In true Christian fundamentalist fashion, Atkinson and Rohrer painted an ominous picture of Islam, ignoring millions of law-abiding Muslims and the complexity of Islamic religious tradition. At the 6:56 mark, the two men described Islam as "a religion that wants to dominate the world" and a "counterfeit" faith forged by the Devil.
ATKINSON: Before I take a break, I do want to come back to what's happening with terrorism and Paris and all this, but I heard something yesterday on a prominent talk show that just put me on tilt, and I'm going to paraphrase it. It basically says this. Maybe the world is waking up that there's a religion that wants to dominate the world that cannot be tolerated. Wow! What do we do with that one?

ROHRER: Well, the religion that cannot tolerate anything other is obviously Islam. Is it forcing change? Yes it is. There's no question about it. And does it specifically target Christians, the redeemed of the Lord, and Israel, God's people? Absolutely. We know it. Should that not awaken God's people to the reality of where we are? It should, but what do we know is that the truth of Jehovah God is more real and it is greater and it will prevail over the lies of the Devil, of which is a counterfeit such as Allah and Islam, which is taking people to hell ...
Atkinson and Rohrer remind us that fundamentalism makes it difficult to perform a sound analysis of world events. When events are filtered through End Times "prophesies" or attributed to supernatural entities, a reasonable analysis of facts and realities becomes impossible.

Friday, December 25, 2015

News Tidbits

Harvard Law Today: Panel on Spotlight film explores priest sex abuse scandal

Religion News Service: Franklin Graham quits the GOP over Planned Parenthood funding

Associated Press: Kentucky bows to clerk Kim Davis and changes marriage license rules

98.1 FM KMBZ: Abortion, gay-marriage foe to lead Kansas House panel

Washington Blade: Liberty Counsel sues Va. school district

ABC News: Anna Duggar Opens up About 'Betrayal' by Husband Josh Duggar

The Monitor: Uganda: Shun Politicians Who Support Homosexuality, Archbishop Ntagali tells Voters

Nyasa Times: Catholic Bishop Says Gays Are Horrible Sinners: 'Malawi Isn't Sodom and Gommorah'

Commentary Tidbits

Right Wing Watch: The Year In Homophobia: The Right-Wing's Anti-Gay Meltdown In 2015

Samantha Field: Two Ways Modern Republicans are Anti-Christian

Politics Plus: Everyday Erinyes

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: I Went to a Donald Trump Rally and All I Got Was a Sinking Feeling

Gay Star News: Too many homes would rather have no child than a queer child this Christmas

Mic: Hillary Clinton Calls for End to Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

Slate: Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Forces Ex-Gay Conversion Therapy Group to Pay Victims and Disband

Media Matters: Fox News' 10 Most Cringe-Worthy Sexist Moments Of 2015

The Atlantic: Can the Religious Right Give Ted Cruz the Win?

Monday, December 21, 2015

News Tidbits

LGBTQ Nation: Six GOP candidates just pledged to make anti-gay discrimination the law

Edge Media Network: Federal Appeals Court Upholds Conviction Of Pastor In Kidnapping Of Daughter Of Lesbian Mother

Christian Science Monitor: Why these Americans are 'done' with church, but not with God

Associated Press: Nevada youth detention center drops chaplain over anti-gay teachings

Associated Press: Nearly three dozen religious colleges seek waivers on transgender students

Reuters: Pope tells Vatican officials reform will go ahead with ‘firm resolve’

Washington Post: Cruz consolidates support from key Christian conservatives

Daily Beast: Prison Chaplain Charged With Rape Studied Minister Accused of Sex Abuse

Raw Story: Evangelical couple begs God to strike critics dead over child abuse claims

Commentary Tidbits

The Atlantic: Can Hobby Lobby Buy the Bible?

Washington Post: How Donald Trump is breathing life into America’s dying white supremacist movement

Wall of Separation: The Air Force Academy Needs To Ground Religious Coercion

Americans United for Separation of Church and State: Holy Hypocrites: The False Piety Of Public Prayer

Love, Joy, Feminism: Evangelical Christianity and Syrian Refugees

RH Reality Check: Colorado County Clerk Removes Poster Opposing Same-Sex Marriage

Women's eNews: Planned Parenthood Attacks Intensify Pressure on Independent Clinics

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hate Speech

Freedom 2015: Geoffrey Botkin on God's Impending Wrath, Part II

For an introduction to the Freedom 2015 conference, click here. To read about Kevin Swanson at Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee at Freedom 2015, click here. To read an earlier post about Geoffrey Botkin's talk, click here.

Christian Patriarchy proponent Geoffrey Botkin delivered a talk at the Freedom 2015 conference in Des Moines, Iowa on November 7th. Audio from "The Decline of Freedom: From the Bill of Rights to the Ten Planks of Communism, America's Domestic Enemies and Where They Came From" is now available at Sermon Audio, so I have extracted some of Botkin's quotes for my readers.

In part I, Botkin warned his audience that God's wrath was looming over America due to the country's rejection of God's law. In part II, Botkin describes America's alleged depravity, lists America's three greatest enemies, and offers steps for how America can return to God.

Botkin defined the terms he would use in his talk, including an odd definition of "freedom" that defies both common parlance and the definition used in America's founding documents. Freedom is not license to disobey God or commit treason against sovereign authority, he added.
"Freedom is the liberty to obey and apply and enjoy the wisdom of God's law. It's a yoke that's not sorrowful. It's not a burden to us. It's not heavy. It's a yoke that we should be so willing to take on us. Freedom is the God-given right to serve the one who defines freedom."
This definition of freedom is yet another example of fundamentalists playing fast and loose with word definitions. Botkin's idea of freedom is essentially "obey my faith's rigid rules, or else". This definition of freedom leaves no room for autonomy, the power to make choices, or genuine human flourishing.

Botkin likened those who seek freedom apart from God's laws to his two-year old granddaughter, who cried because she didn't want to follow her grandfather's rules. At the 20:48 mark, he shared a story of how the toddler chafed under his rules and longed to "be the daddy all the time".
"Got a little granddaughter who wants her freedom, okay, to do what she wants to do. Earlier this summer, she was two years old, I was correcting her about something little, something little, and she started to cry, and I picked up her and held her in my arms and I said, 'Why are you crying?" And she said, "I DON'T WANT TO BE GOOD!". Okay. She wanted her freedom to do what she wanted to do ... I asked her if I could tell this story, and she said yes, okay.

'Catherine, what is it that you want?' She's the most most honest counselee I've ever had in my life. She said 'I want to be the daddy all the time.' She wants to get to decide what's right and wrong, good and evil, and make the decisions herself, and be the authority at all times and therein find her freedom, so she can justify everything that she does, and she knew exactly what she wanted. She was morally honest. She admitted it."
Botkin was particularly angry at believers who exercise their freedom by leaving churches. Christians "church-hop" so that they can find a church that justifies what they want to do anyway, he insisted. Yeah, because they never leave due to spiritual abuse, scandals, or toxic theology, I thought.

In a bizarre swipe at pop culture, Botkin mocked the song "Let It Go" from the animated movie Frozen, calling it "Satan's rebellion anthem". Elsa's longing to "test the limits and break through" was an example of society's evil idea of freedom, devoid of any respect for God's law, he sneered. The conversation quickly turned to Satan's encounter with Eve in the Garden of Eden, in which Satan tempted Eve with promises of freedom and power. (Right Wing Watch devoted a post to Botkin's rant against Frozen here.)

Botkin demanded that listeners "chasten" their children, arguing at the 25:54 mark that parents represent God in the home. Disciplining children so that they follow God's law is crucial, since God will chasten America if it neglects his law, he insisted.
"How many preachers will tell you that you need to chasten your children as the authority who represents God in your family? How many churches still teach that we need to be doing that in our homes to be faithful to the law of God? Very few. How many tell you that God, our heavenly father, will chasten us according to his promises in scripture and even chasten our nation?"
Citing Proverbs 28:9 -- "If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable" -- Botkin raged against Americans who pray to God but neglect his laws at the 28:09 mark. Prayers from the unworthy are mere "whining" that makes God angry, he claimed.
"If we have come up with one weird trick so that we can have our license and our liberty and the freedom that we think we need to correct, just by plugging our ears so that we don't hear the word of God, or finding a church that will never teach it, what's our relationship like with God Almighty? Even our prayer would make him angry, and what if the whole nation is doing that? Do you see what scripture says here? Even his prayer is an abomination. There's to be a number of prayer meetings held this coming year, 2016, on the steps of every state capitol of America, organized by Christian leaders concerned about our country. I'm concerned too. But I'm also concerned that if the Christians of a lawless nation with a lawless attitude who don't like God's law gather together and WHINE TO HIM, will it just make him angry?"
This being Geoffrey Botkin, he couldn't resist a few jabs at mothers. He claimed that the wicked kings of the Bible had "wicked, selfish mothers" who led them astray.
"Take a look at the most wicked kings, and then look at the king's mother or the king's wife and the influence that she had on that wicked king. Take a look at the good kings and look at the mother or the wife. Have you ever done that study? It's fascinating to see. The WICKED, SELFISH MOTHERS produce kings that lead their people in a very wicked, selfish direction."
This isn't the first time that Botkin has spoken ill of mothers. Recall that Botkin criticized "mommies" during a 2013 webinar and warned listeners about "emasculation", "maternalistic necessity", and "mommy states" at the 2013 History of America Mega-Conference.

Botkin listed five theological laws of judgment that frame God's wrath against nations.
  • God governs nations by judging them. He administers blessings and curses accordingly. Those who refuse to acknowledge God's authority become "morally stupid" as a punishment from God.

  • God's judgment follows due process.

  • God's judgment always begins with believers.

  • Without God's law, no nation can truly serve Christ.

  • Those who reject God's law become enemies of God. God will go to war with them.
Compared to other nations, the U.S. is stable and prosperous, but what matters is how the U.S. seems in the eyes of God, he argued. America no longer has God's protection as a free nation because it has abandoned God's law in exchange for other belief systems, he claimed.

Botkin described the three supposed enemies threatening the U.S.: Islam, which he described as a totalitarian "death cult"; the "self-righteous, politically correct left"; and "evangelical Protestant Bible belt Christians who believe that they are above the law". Botkin's described Islam in scathing terms, insisting that it has not changed in twelve centuries, despite ample evidence of Islam's evolution throughout its history.
"The third most lethal threat to you and your country right now is Islam ... Islam is a totalitarian political death cult. It's a religious law system of a false god. Did you catch that? It's a religious law system. It has its alternative law system that's different from God's law system. It has a supremacist ideology that has not changed or reformed in 1,200 years."
He spoke of Islam in apocalyptic terms, warning the audience that Muslim girls are being raised to hate America and bear children who will someday spill blood for jihad. Mosques are teaching Muslims that Sharia law is the highest authority, he insisted. Botkin conveniently ignored the existence of law-abiding Muslims, including progressive Muslims and Muslims who serve the common good.

"God has used this sort of Islam to chastise wayward and negligent Christian nations for 1,200 years. Could he do it here? Yeah," he told listeners. If Islam gains ascendancy, "quiet" Muslims will be killed if they refuse to join the impending jihad, Christian history will be erased, and Christian women will be enslaved, he claimed. Botkin made a point of reminding listeners that European women with light complexions were "very valuable" in the old slave trade. "Next thing that happens is Jew and Christian males are executed, and then the women are seized as war booty and marked for punishment or slavery or then genocide," he said.

Translation: scary brown men will destroy America and bang all the white women! Be afraaaiiiid! I thought.

Botkin's apocalyptic picture of Islam was ridiculous for several reasons. First, there is a huge difference between ISIS jihadis and law-abiding Muslims, just as there is a huge difference between Christian extremists who attack abortion clinics and law-abiding Christians. Muslims are not some implacable, monolithic threat, nor are they a fifth column inside the U.S. Second, plenty of Muslims despise Islamic extremism. Most of ISIS' victims have been Muslims. Many of the refugees fleeing the Levant are Muslims, suggesting that they want no part of ISIS' vision. The countries inflicting the heaviest damage against ISIS are other majority-Muslim nations. Third, while terrorist attacks against U.S. targets remain a real threat, the chances of ISIS invading the U.S. are nil. They don't have the manpower, and they already have their hands full in the Levant.

Also, I find it ironic that Botkin demonizes Muslims as fanatics who slaughter nonbelievers, take slaves during war, and rape conquered women, since his own holy book condones the same horrors. Deuteronomy alone contains multiple passages commanding or condoning the very atrocities Botkin condemns, to say nothing of the rest of the Bible. When Botkin demands that believers uphold Old Testament laws, does he mean those laws too?

Botkin's caricature of the "politically correct left" was so cartoonish that no sensible person could take it seriously. He described the left's supposed plan to abolish private property, seize property from "rebels", and establish state ownership of factories and farms.
"The self-righteous, politically correct left ... They're represented by the nationalized educational curriculum, the politically synchronized media, the self-accredited academia, the elites who run the colleges and the seminaries, the political leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, the socialistic labor unions, and the regulatory bureaucracy with police powers, which is the civil government at the federal and state level."
Christians are allegedly in a "moral war" with these three forces, Botkin claimed. All three reject Jesus Christ, chafe under God's moral rules, see themselves as righteous, and cannot discuss morality without abusing people who disagree with them. Just like Botkin, I thought.

America was once "free" under the law of God in the 17th and 18th centuries, Botkin said, because people were not ashamed of the Gospel. America must return to this mindset, he insisted. Frankly, I doubt that Native Americans, women, indentured servants, or slaves felt very "free" in the colonies during that time. Botkin's golden age wasn't nearly as golden as he wants to believe.

This is the man who spoke at the same conference as Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal: a man who uses fear to push a radical religious agenda, who demonizes and scapegoats whole communities, and who has no tolerance for people with different beliefs. A future president who breaks bread with people like this would be disastrous for the U.S.

Freedom 2015: Geoffrey Botkin on God's Impending Wrath, Part I

For an introduction to the Freedom 2015 conference, click here. To read about Kevin Swanson at Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee at Freedom 2015, click here. To read part II of Botkin's talk, click here.

Who could forget the Freedom 2015 conference in Des Moines, Iowa last month, during which Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal shared a stage with Kevin Swanson? Who could forget Swanson's epic meltdown on stage, during which he ranted about homosexuality, manure, pus-filled sores, and Harry Potter?

More content from the conference has become available, and I'm eager to share details with readers. At Freedom 2015, Christian Patriarchy adherent Geoffrey Botkin led a workshop entitled "The Decline of Freedom: From the Bill of Rights to the Ten Planks of Communism, America's Domestic Enemies and Where They Came From". Audio from the workshop is now available at Sermon Audio, so I've extracted some quotes from Botkin's talk for your reading pleasure.

Botkin's talk focused on America's rebellion from God and the danger of God's wrath if America does not repent. The talk was peppered with praise for Leviticus, insults for the movie Frozen, jabs at women, and ideas about "freedom" that are completely at odds with America's founding principles.

Isaac Botkin (Geoffrey Botkin's son) introduced the workshop as a talk about the "demise of freedom", which happens before the restoration of God's people. After reading from Nehemiah 9, Isaac described the theme of disobedience and repentance running through the Old Testament.
"We see this happen throughout scripture. We see the people of God being blessed, straying, rebelling, being chastised, repenting, and then the blessing of God coming on them again, over and over and over."
Geoffrey Botkin came to the podium and began his talk with fear-mongering. "The wrath of God is hot on this country," he warned the audience, admitting that a nation's vulnerability before the wrath of God is "scary"."We have enemies that are bearing down on us, and they're terrifying!" he asserted. "The most terrifying of all would be the wrath of God. If we get in the way of the wrath of God, as other nations have, it is terrifying."

Despite his ominous warnings, Botkin urged listeners not to be discouraged, telling them that he was optimistic about God's promises. Botkin promised to give the audience a scriptural solution to the problem of God's wrath over our nation.

Isn't that convenient? I thought. Diagnose an imaginary problem, then assure listeners that YOU have the cure.

After reading from Ezekiel 20:9, Botkin reminded listeners that God's wrath is horrifying, especially for women and children. He's laying the fear on thick, I thought.
"How many times have you heard lectures or sermons about the calamity that God may bring on his people in modern times? It's a place that most people don't go. This is how God speaks, adult to adult, and we're going to be speaking about adult things here. Calamity on a nation is a very uncomfortable place to be, and especially for women and children who suffer during times of calamity."
Citing Jeremiah 2:21, Botkin likened America to a "noble vine" cultivated by God himself, a vine that has become "degenerate".
"I just want to draw your attention to the historic fact that God planted this country carefully and lovingly as a noble vine, and what have we become?"
Botkin alluded to Kevin Swanson's disturbing rant about Leviticus, which Swanson was scheduled to deliver later that day. "We can't go annulling the book of Leviticus just because it makes us uncomfortable," Botkin insisted. As viewers may recall, Swanson would argue that gays were worthy of death, citing Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:32. (Swanson also spoke warmly of Deuteronomy, a similarly harsh book from the Old Testament, at Vision Forum's History of America Mega-Conference in 2013.)
"When I'm finished here, upstairs there will be a closing address by the organizer of this conference who's going to dare to take a Bible and open it up to the book of Leviticus. And the media will be there like vultures to hear the word of God read from the book of Leviticus. Who's afraid of Leviticus? It's become a pejorative, and I've even heard Christians refer to the book of Leviticus--'That's the no-go territory. Yeah right. Nobody goes there anymore.' Well, what's wrong with the book of Leviticus? Has it been ... excised from scripture? Can we not go there? Can we not go there to find hope in the will of the Lord and the mind of the Lord?"
Let that sink in. Botkin exalted an Old Testament book that calls intercourse between men an "abomination" (Leviticus 18:22), provides guidelines for buying slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46), commands execution for occultists (Leviticus 20:27) and children who mouth off to their parents (Leviticus 20:9), orders honor killing via immolation for daughters of priests who lose their virginity before marriage (Leviticus 21:9), and describes menstruation as unclean (Leviticus 18:19). Leviticus is culturally outmoded at best and barbaric at worst, and yet Botkin is perfectly comfortable with its content. Botkin's special affection for one of the Bible's most vicious books should tell us something about his worldview.

I will share quotes from the rest of Botkin's talk in my next post. Stay tuned for the rest of Geoffrey Botkin's talk, in which he blasts America for having evil ideas about "freedom" and lists the three greatest threats to the U.S.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

News Tidbits

Reuters: Lawsuit by ex-Atlanta fire chief critical of homosexuality to proceed

Pew Research Center: Most U.S. Christian groups grow more accepting of homosexuality

WLWT 5: Group asking for repeal of Cincinnati's LGBT conversion therapy ban

Associated Press: Judge Orders New Jersey 'Gay Conversion' Nonprofit to Close

Newsweek: JONAH, the Largest Jewish Gay Conversion Therapy Organization, Takes its Last Breath

Washington Blade: Lawmakers in Va., Md., introduce religious freedom bills

The Advocate: Pope Francis Urges Repeal of Marriage Equality in Slovenia

Commentary Tidbits

MSNBC: The religious right finds its man

Christian Today: Why evangelicals pray for persecuted pastors rather than battered women

Against the Greater Light: 5 Non-Policy Reasons to Dislike Trump

Runtu's Rincón: Top Ten Reasons I Support Trump (Satire)

Alternet: How Trump Smashed the Religious Right’s Recipe to Sway the GOP Primaries 

Huffington Post: Why Is Anti-abortion Extremism Normalized? It Shouldn't Be.

The Prime GOP Presidential Debate: Be Afraid Some More!

After the December 15th "undercard" debate in Las Vegas came the main event: the prime Republican presidential debate featuring Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Fear has been a recurring theme in the presidential race -- fear of ISIS, fear of extremists, fear of Muslims, fear of refugees -- and the main debate was no exception. Some candidates used fear-based rhetoric in the prime debate, just as Huckabee and Santorum did during the undercard debate.

A Washington Post transcript of the debate made for depressing reading. For example, Jeb Bush warned listeners that freedom is supposedly in peril, the economy is floundering, ISIS wants to destroy America, and "Washington" is partially to blame.
BUSH: Our freedom is under attack. Our economy is under water. The leading democrat is under investigation. And America is under the gun to lead the free world to protect our civilized way of life. Serious times require strong leadership, that's what at stake right now. Regarding national security, we need to restore the defense cuts of Barack Obama to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us. Regarding economic security, we need to take power and money away from Washington D.C. and empower American families so that they can rise up again.
Ted Cruz told the audience that "America is at war" with Islamic terrorism and claimed that President Obama is unwilling to call extremism what it is. He offered himself as a solution to these problems, claiming that the U.S. would "utterly destroy ISIS" under his leadership if elected president.
CRUZ: America is at war. Our enemy is not violent extremism. It is not some unnamed malevolent force. It is radical Islamic terrorist. We have a president who is unwilling to utter its name. The men and women on this stage, every one of us, is better prepared to keep this nation safe than is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. We need a president who understands the first obligation of the commander-in-chief is to keep America safe. If I am elected president, we will hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth. Border security is national security and we will not be admitting jihadists as refugees. We will keep America safe.
Trump, who has his own history of fear-mongering and fear-based cruelty, reminds us that irrational fear can result in disturbing decisions. Trump advocated for shutting down Internet access to regions that are engaged in war with the U.S.
BLITZER: So, are you open to closing parts of the Internet?

TRUMP: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don't want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet. Yes, sir, I am.
Rand Paul criticized Trump for his unconstitutional ideas about shutting down the Internet and killing ISIS members' families, reminding him that the U.S. is bound by laws.
PAUL: ... Is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this is, if you're going to close the Internet, realize, America, what that entails. That entails getting rid of the First amendment, OK? It's no small feat.

If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there's something called the Geneva Convention we're going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America. So when you ask yourself, whoever you are, that think you're going to support Donald Trump, think, do you believe in the Constitution? Are you going to change the Constitution?
Ben Carson also made disturbing statements amid the atmosphere of fear. When asked if he could authorize air strikes that would kill thousands of innocent civilians, Carson replied that he could.
HEWITT: We're talking about ruthless things tonight -- carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we're going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They're not happy about it, believe me. And they don't like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me ... Later on, you know, they really realize what's going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it's actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.

HEWITT: So you are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilian? It's like--

CARSON: You got it. You got it.
The campaign strategy of some Republicans is chilling but simple: cultivate fear among voters, then cast oneself as a strong leader by promising to vanquish the source of the fear. Fear is not only a crude tool for drumming up political support, but it can breed ruthlessness and dehumanization. Unfortunately, some of the Republican candidates were only too happy to appeal to those voter impulses during the debate.

Islamic extremism is a very real threat. However, irrational fear, unconstitutional policies, savagery, and ham-fisted war plans will not help the U.S. stop Islamic extremism. Republican candidates need to stop cultivating irrational fear among voters and start approaching these issues in a mature manner.

Friday, December 18, 2015

News Tidbits

Christianity Today: ‘I Am Called a Cult Leader. I Really Don’t Care.’   (Trigger warning)

Christianity Today: Wheaton College Suspends Hijab-Wearing Professor After 'Same God' Comment

NPR: Unbelief As A Belief System: Core Tenet For Christians' Fight For Religious Rights

Philadelphia Inquirer: Ex-gay movement the subject of Temple sociologist's book

Washington Post: For many at Liberty University, guns and God go hand in hand

Associated Press: Groups concerned about Walgreens’ ties to Catholic hospital 

NBC News: Trump Audience Member Yells Nazi Salute as Protester Removed From Las Vegas Rally

Al Jazeera America: GOP candidates continue harsh rhetoric on Planned Parenthood

Pink News: Republican lawmaker: I spoke to God and he says we have to scrap gay marriage

Commentary Tidbits

Tell Me Why the World Is Weird: 8 Reasons Jedi are Totally Evangelical

Southern Poverty Law Center: SPLC suit forces New Jersey group to cease bogus ‘conversion therapy’ program, pay damages

Think Progress: Infamous Reparative Therapy Clinic For Transgender Youth Set To Close   

New York Magazine: The Election and the Death Throes of White Male Power

Slaktivist: Wheaton College suspends its own credibility

Right Wing Watch: Religious Right: Bible Dictates Laws & Economic Policy But Islam Not a Religion Because It Is A Political & Economic System

RH Reality Check: Advocates: Accused Planned Parenthood Shooter’s Outburst ‘Not a Coincidence’

Washington Post: Donald Trump presents evangelical Christians with a crucial choice

Rhymes with Religion: An unholy alliance: When mob forgiveness meets selective grace

Raw Story: The sex-negative message in the ‘Virgin Birth’

The "Undercard" GOP Presidential Debate: Be Afraid!

Republican presidential candidates sparred during another debate in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 15th, with ISIS and national security as hot topics for the night. The "undercard" debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino featured New York Governor George Pataki, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Some Republican candidates are kindling fear among voters, pointing to Islamic extremism as an ongoing danger to America. As these quotes from a New York Times debate transcript demonstrate, some undercard debate participants used fear-based rhetoric as a campaign strategy. For example, Santorum warned the audience that America has entered "World War III", but that President Obama is supposedly in denial about it.
SANTORUM: This is an important time in our country’s history. We have entered World War III. World War III has begun and we have a leader who refuses to identify it and be truthful to the American people to the stakes that are involved, in part, because his policies have led us here.
Huckabee claimed that recent violence has left the American people frightened, and that their fear is exacerbated by a government they supposedly can't trust. Huckabee spoke of genuine threats (extremist violence) and imagined threats (Syrian refugees) in the same breath.
HUCKABEE: Americans are not only angry — angry at their government that they feel like has failed them, been indifferent to them, cost them their livelihoods — but they’re in addition to angry, they’re just plain scared. They’re scared when they thing that they go to a Christmas party and get shot at by somebody who sat and had lunch with them an hour earlier. They’re scared when they realize that our government, who promises that it can vet people and is begging us to approve bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country, can’t even catch somebody after a third background check, who had posted things on social media clearly indicating she wanted to kill Americans. And we couldn’t catch that. We’ve lost confidence in our government. And when Americans lose confidence in their government, we’re in a dangerous place. We’re in danger because we have an enemy that is out to kill us, and we have a government that we don’t trust any more. This election is about going back to having a government we can trust with leaders who have the courage and conviction to actually lead and not follow.
The usual themes emerge: America is in danger, citizens should feel fear, and Obama's administration can't protect us. Such candidates then present themselves as an antidote to that fear, as a strong protector who will supposedly lead America back to safety. Trump, Huckabee, and Santorum are among the Republican candidates using fear as a campaign strategy -- fear of refugees, fear of Muslims, and fear of the government.

Fortunately, some of the input from Graham and Pataki was more measured. Graham acknowledged that Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric is destructive because it fails to distinguish reasonable Muslims from Islamic extremists, and because such language is not conducive to international cooperation.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: ...The good news for everybody in this room is, after 36 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, most people over there, Wolf, are not buying what ISIL’s selling. This is a religious war between radical Islam and the rest of the world. And there’s only one way you’re going to win this war. Help people in Islam who reject radical Islam to fight over there and destroy this ideology. Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just believe in dancing. This is a coup for them, and to all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, like the King of Jordan and the President of Egypt, I am sorry. He does not represent us. If I am President, we will work together. People in the faith to all over the world destroy this radical ideology. Declaring war on the religion only helps ISIL.
Pataki, too, disagreed with the anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from some quarters. In the wake of Trump's inflammatory comments about Muslims, Pataki noted that discrimination based on religion is immoral and unconstitutional.
GEORGE PATAKI: To target a religion and say that regardless of whether you’re an American soldier who has fought on our side or allies we have overseas, simply because of your religion we’re going to ban you is un-American, it is unconstitutional and it is wrong. And by the way, Wolf, now there was a group that tried to do that 150 to 160 years ago, they were called the Know-Nothing Party. They wanted to ban Catholics. They thought they were going to destroy America.
Fear can be a powerful motivator, and several Republicans are using fear to draw support for their presidential campaigns. Voters must learn how to distinguish rational fears from irrational fears, lest they be duped by manipulative politicians. Voters must channel their fear into constructive political and social actions, not into xenophobia, paranoia, and scapegoating. In time, we'll see if fear produces votes for fear-mongering candidates, or if a saner candidate prevails.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Outrage After Trump's Anti-Muslim Statements

On December 7th, Donald Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. during a speech in South Carolina. His statement has triggered outrage at home and abroad, and rightfully so. Republicans, Democrats, world leaders, and aid providers have rejected Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric as bigoted, divisive, and dangerous.

First, many presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush, took to social media to denounce Trump's plan.

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz was lukewarm in his response. According to the Washington Post, Cruz admitted during a press conference that he disagreed with Trump's proposal, but stopped short of criticizing Trump. Cruz instead offered his own proposals for stemming the flow of refugees into the U.S., including the option for governors to decline admission to refugees and a three-tear moratorium on refugees fleeing countries where ISIS is active.

According to the New York Times, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was swift in his condemnation. During a news conference on December 8th, Ryan denounced Trump, arguing that his anti-Muslim statements do not represent conservatism or America.
"Freedom of religion is a fundamental Constitutional principle. It's a founding principle of this country. Normally, I do not comment on what's going on in the presidential election. I will take an exception today. This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for, and more importantly, it's not what this country stand for."
High ranking U.S. officials quickly blasted Trump's anti-Muslim comments. Vice President Joe Biden warned that "what he’s preaching is a very, very dangerous brew for America," according to Bloomberg. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told MSNBC that Trump's proposal was "irresponsible", "probably illegal", and "contrary to our national security efforts", according to Reuters.

During the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Event in Paris, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Trump for conflating Islamic extremists and upright Muslims. Trump's comments run counter to the spirit of the Constitution, Kerry asserted. (Hat tip to Bloomberg.)
"...ISIL/Daesh is not Islam, and there are courageous Muslims around the world, in the Middle East, elsewhere, standing up to it. There are people fighting ISIL. And we cannot succumb to plunking everybody in the world into one pot. I mean, that is not America. That is not our Constitution. And we, in our policies, have a policy of nondiscrimination and a policy of religious tolerance.

And frankly, what Mr. Trump has said runs contrary to all of that and makes our job of reaching out to people and sharing the real America just that much more complicated and that much more difficult. And that’s about as diplomatic as I can put it."
During a December 8th White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest argued that Trump's statement "disqualifies him from serving as president". Earnest also blasted other Republican candidates for not ostracizing Trump. (Hat tip to Al Jazeera America.)
"Now, I know that each of the Republican candidates has already taken an oath pledging to support Donald Trump for president of the United States if he wins the nomination.  But the fact is the first thing a president does when he or she takes the oath of office is to swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And the fact is that what Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president.  And for Republican candidates for president to stand by their pledge to support Mr. Trump, that in and of itself is disqualifying."
Trump's alarming proposal has not rattled his supporters, judging from polling numbers. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Trump remains ahead of other Republican candidates as of December 11th, with 35% of Republican respondents supporting him. Even more disturbing is the fact that almost two-thirds of Republican respondents did not find his remarks offensive. (More here and here.) If Trump's blatantly unconstitutional and unethical proposal wasn't enough to alienate most Republican voters, what does that say about our electorate?

Hateful rhetoric shouldn't be part of American politics. If Trump stays in the presidential race, however, we can expect more xenophobic language as the 2016 election draws closer. We must also condemn such language at every opportunity.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Politico: Trump plan pushes Muslim Republicans toward exit

Think Progress: Republican Muslim Leader Asks Donald Trump To Attend Worship Service With Her 

Huffington Post: Prominent Muslims React To Trump's Islamophobic Border Plan

Donald Trump Calls for "Total and Complete Shutdown of Muslims Entering the United States"

Donald Trump's presidential campaign has featured an unending stream of thoughtless and offensive statements, but his latest comments have left many Americans stunned. On December 7th, Trump spoke at a Pearl Harbor Day Rally at the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Hat tip to NPR.) His shocking call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. have made his xenophobia impossible to ignore.

The event began with security escorting an anti-Trump protester off the premises as Trump implored them to "Treat her nicely" and the crowd chanted "Trump! Trump! Trump!"

"What a weak voice!" Trump later said about the protester.

Over the course of forty minutes, Trump rambled about political correctness, terrorism, ISIS, the media, and of course, himself. He mocked the media as dishonest "scum", insisting that the media "wants to surrender our constitution and our constitutional rights". At the 7:10 mark, he played to his audience's fear of immigrants by claiming that the U.S. has "no idea what's going on".
"We're out of control. We have no idea who's coming into our country. We have no idea if they love us or if they hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us. We have no idea what's going on."
At the 16:37 mark, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The length of the proposed ban, as well as whether the ban would include both citizens and foreigners, was unclear.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice."
Appealing to listeners' fear of terrorism, Trump warned at the 19:31 mark that the U.S. would experience "more World Trade Centers" until it took the threat of Islamic extremism seriously.
"We can't live like this. It's going to get worse and worse. You're going to have more World Trade Centers. It's going to get worse and worse, folks. We can be politically correct and we can be stupid, but it's going to get worse and worse. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people who believe only in jihad."
Trump's previous statements on immigrants, including his proposed immigration policy and his assumptions about immigrants and crime, have drawn accusations of racism. His refusal to outright oppose the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, as reported in Time, has only strengthened his public image as a xenophobe. Now, his calls for banning Muslims and implementing a database for Muslims in the U.S. have driven commentators to brand him a fascist. They're not wrong.

Is Trump merely pandering to a fearful audience? After all, he counts Muslims among his international business associates, according to the Daily Beast, so surely he understands that not all Muslims are dangerous. Whether Trump's rhetoric is sincere or not, I think that his words are too dangerous to shrug off as shallow pandering.

Trump is trying to win power by nurturing the fear, hatred, and ignorance of his supporters. Americans must not ignore his scapegoating of Muslims and Mexicans, his appeals to fear in the wake of terrorist attacks, and his calls for grossly unethical policies. Trump is calling for disturbing measures, and with the stakes so high, we must take him at his word.

America, pay attention.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Manly Chest-Thumping Manliness

On October 5th, the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors hosted a conference entitled "Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity" at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference approached gender diversity as "chaos" and "confusion", insisting that God assigns immutable gender to his creations.
"Our culture is flooded with transgender confusion. The Christian Gospel speaks into this confusion with revolutionary clarity. God sovereignly assigns a gender to people created in his image. The powerful grace of Jesus Christ redeems and restores to sanity our thinking corrupted by sin. The church must speak with biblical conviction into this chaos with the clarity and love of Christ."
Event speakers had little patience for any deviation from stereotypical gender roles, much less transgender identities. For example, during a panel discussion with four other men, biblical theology professor Jim Hamilton ridiculed a group of "effeminate" men he addressed at a speaking engagement.
"Last fall, I had the privilege of speaking to a college group that was not from my alma mater. It was another rival SCC school, and the whole time that I was with these guys, no offense to anybody, the whole time I was with these guys, I was thinking to myself, 'This would be driving my wife crazy', because she has this very sensitive radar to any manifestation of what she'll sometimes call as 'floppiness' or effeminacy among men. And I have never been around a more effeminate group of guys. And the whole time, I'm thinking to myself, 'These guys need to be told to man up!' These guys need to be told to stop doing that, to stop looking like girls in the way they walk, in the way they talk, in the way they wear their hats. I mean, it was all just--it was gross. And so I think that it's our responsibility to say to the younger generation, 'You need to knock that off, and you need to start acting like a man.'"
This is the most pressing problem keeping these men awake at night? This is what they think is wrong with the world? A group of young men being themselves?

Jim, let me explain a few things. First, gender is a spectrum, not a pair of binary categories. There are plenty of healthy ways to express gender, not just two ways. Second, gender diversity is not a sin or a pathology. I know many fine people who defy gender stereotypes. We should judge the moral character of people based on their fairness, honesty, compassion, and respectfulness, not on whether or not they shoehorn themselves into binary gender stereotypes.

If Hamilton sees "effeminate" mannerisms as offensive, one must wonder what he thinks of women (both cisgender and transgender). Under patriarchy, men deem women inferior, and anything assigned to females is branded as inferior, weak, and silly. If we are to transcend patriarchy, we must jettison the belief that certain behaviors are compulsory for men and women, as well as the assumption that things labeled "effeminate" are inferior.

Besides, I'd rather hang out with "effeminate" guys with good hearts than chest-thumping macho dude-bros any day.

(Hat tip to Transjoandarc.)

Jerry Falwell Jr. Says Armed Citizens Could "End Those Muslims Before They Walk In and Kill"

At a time when fear of Muslims is smoldering in the U.S., one Christian leader has generated controversy with his statement about Muslims. During a convocation speech on December 4th, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. made controversial comments about the Muslims and the San Bernardino shooting, according to the Washington Post. In an excerpt of his speech captured by CNN, Falwell argued that if more people were armed, they could "end those Muslims before they walk in and kill."
"It just blows my mind when I see the president of the United States say that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control. I mean, if the people--if some of those people in that community center had had what I got in my back pocket right now. Is it illegal to pull it out? I don't know. Anyway.

I’ve always thought if more good people had conceal-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill. I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course, and let's teach 'em a lesson if they ever show up here."
Falwell's claim that an armed populace could stop terrorists, while facile and naive, was not what offended me. What disturbed me is Falwell's reference to "those Muslims", which could be construed as Falwell lumping law-abiding Muslims into the same category as the San Bernardino shooters. Why did he feel compelled to slam "those Muslims", rather than "those terrorists" or "those murderers"?

Falwell soon came under fire from political leaders. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called his comments "deplorable" and "hateful" during an appearance on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe warned that his "reckless" statements could jeopardize Virginia's business relationships, according to the Roanoke Times.

Some Christians denounced Falwell's comments. For example, in an open letter published in the Wheaton Record, Wheaton College student leaders condemned Falwell for his intolerance. (Hat tip to the Washington Post.)
"While these sorts of remarks epitomize the ever-growing fear and hostility directed toward Muslims, we as Evangelical Christians hold that Christ calls us not to react with religious oppression or violence—instead, we have the responsibility to live out fearless love in order to pursue unity. We, therefore, reject the ideology espoused by Chancellor Falwell in his recent remarks to the Liberty student body, and we invite you to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters who share our human dignity."
Liberty University student Moriah Wierschem expressed her displeasure in a commentary piece at Christianity Today. Wierschem was disappointed by Falwell's comments and the enthusiastic cheers he received from his audience.
"There are people at Liberty who believe carrying guns to protect ourselves against attack makes a statement about what our school stands for. As a Christian who values life in all circumstances, I simply cannot agree. The cheers in the stadium that morning contradict our claims to valuing every life on this earth. Applauding while someone speaks about killing anyone—even Islamic terrorists—is unacceptable when we believe that every life is valuable from the point of conception into eternity."
Other Christians defended Falwell's controversial statements. Daniel Howell, a biology professor at Liberty University, defended Falwell's comments in a December 7th statement.  Howell claimed that Falwell's comments were about self-defense, and that his critics misinterpreted scripture.
"A lot has been said this weekend about remarks Jerry Falwell Jr. made in Convocation Friday morning. Some authors have accused Christian leaders like Falwell of making proclamations appealing to religious authority but lacking biblical reflection. Christian antagonists often use Scriptural misinterpretations to lambast self-defense in general and gun ownership in particular. When unbelievers in his time tried to ensnare Jesus with his own teachings, Jesus replied, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” I believe the same can be said today of Christians and non-Christians alike who misuse Scripture to deride self (and national) defense.

Unbelievers and others lacking knowledge about the true character of God sometimes refer to Christ’s moniker as the Prince of Peace to conclude Christianity must be a wimpy, defenseless teaching. Of course, this is one of many titles for Jesus, another being the Lion of Judah. While Jesus was exceptionally mild and meek at his first coming, we are assured by Scripture that he will not be so at his second coming. He is described in Revelation 19 as the King of kings who leads the armies of heaven on a white horse and utterly destroys his enemies with the word of his mouth (visualized there as a sword). In a world littered with violence, the Prince of Peace knows that real tranquility is only obtained through strength."

President Jerry Falwell addresses Liberty students during Convocation on Wednesday, Dec. 9 from Liberty News on Vimeo.

During a later speech on campus, Jerry Falwell Jr. defended his statements. "Some of my comments were taken out of context. They only used part of my quote," he insisted at the 7:42 mark of this video. At the 6:11 mark, he claimed that Liberty University offered educations to the three children of a Christian convert who was killed in the San Bernardino rampage. The relevance of Liberty University's offer to Falwell's comments about Muslims escaped me.
"I want to give you an update on what's happened since Friday. You know, the context of my remarks was the vicious killing of the fourteen innocent people in San Bernardino, and I told you on Friday that we were actively reaching out to the first responders and to the families. [Director of Spiritual Programs] Dan Bolton reached ... them yesterday. It was a family with three children, ages ten, twelve, and fifteen, who had emigrated here from Iran. The mother was killed in the shooting, and the father took the call, and when he answered the phone, he said, 'I just can't believe that Liberty University is calling me, because all of our family have become Christians since we came to the United States.' ... He broke down in tears on the phone because he had been searching for years about how they were going to obtain a Christian college education for those three kids. So if that's the only reason all this press and everything that's happened this week happened, I think that's a wonderful thing. At least three of the victims' children will be sitting out here with you in not too many years."
When WSLS 10 asked Falwell about his statements, he insisted that he was referring specifically to the San Bernardino shooters, but reminded the reporter that the shooters were motivated by Islam.  "I just wish I'd said it louder," he told WSLS.
REPORTER: Why the word "Muslim" instead of the word, perhaps, "terrorist"?

FALWELL: "Terrorist" would have been a good word to use too. I just was referring to those particular people, and they were motivated by their religion, so it was a relevant term for that particular event.
Second Amendment rights notwithstanding, a heavily armed populace (or campus) will not instantly stop terrorism, and neither will unthinking comments about the Muslim community. Preventing terrorist attacks will require nuanced thinking and realistic solutions. It will require us to develop more sophisticated prevention strategies than "everybody just go get a gun". It will require us to distinguish between law-abiding Muslims and Islamic extremists. I wish Falwell and his supporters understood this.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Talk to Action: Armed And Dangerous?: Falwell Suggests That LU Students Get Guns To Fend Off `Those Muslims'

Religion News Service: Who would Jesus shoot — and why?

The Atlantic: Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Troubling Remarks on Guns