Sunday, January 31, 2016

GOP Candidates Divide the Religious Right

The battle for dominance between GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz is splitting the Religious Right. Cruz continues to garner support from right-wing Christian leaders, while Trump is making powerful friends and powerful enemies alike among Religious Right figures.

In an earlier post, Republic of Gilead observed that Cruz was trumpeting new endorsements by International House of Prayer pastor Mike Bickle, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, and multiple leaders from the anti-feminist Eagle Forum. Not long after that post, Cruz also won endorsements from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, former Texas governor Rick Perry, the Benham brothers, Glenn Beck, and the heads of the Bott Radio Network (a Christian talk radio network). If these endorsements are any indication, Cruz has been wooing the Religious Right like a paramour.

Trump, too, has received support from prominent Religious Right leaders. For example, Texas pastor and radio host Robert Jeffress warmly introduced Trump at two Christian colleges, according to One News Now and the Dallas Morning News. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.) Jeffress' support may be a mixed blessing for Trump, as Jeffress' anti-Mormon statements may alienate conservative Mormon voters.

Other endorsements have stirred controversy among Religious Right leaders. When Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Trump's campaign, as reported by the Washington Post, several conservative Christian leaders looked askance at his decision. Michael Brown, Robert Vander Plaats, and David French were among the commentators criticizing Falwell's decision. The outcry became so loud that Falwell felt compelled to pen a defense of his decision. Trump, it seems, is a divisive figure among conservative Christians because of his moral character.

The deepest fissures dividing the Religious Right have to do with the candidates' stance on abortion. In late January, nearly a dozen anti-abortion activists released a statement scorning Trump for his misogyny and insufficient devotion to the anti-abortion cause. Leaders from Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, and Iowa Right to Life signed their names to the document, which will undoubtedly have a strong impact on anti-abortion voters. (Hat tip to Washington Post.)
"Dear Iowans,

As pro-life women leaders from Iowa and across the nation, we urge Republican caucus-goers and voters to support anyone but Donald Trump. On the issue of defending unborn children and protecting women from the violence of abortion, Mr. Trump cannot be trusted and there is, thankfully, an abundance of alternative candidates with proven records of pro-life leadership whom pro-life voters can support. We have come to this conclusion after having listened patiently to numerous debates and news reports, but most importantly to Donald Trump’s own words.

The next president will be responsible for as many as four nominations to the Supreme Court. Mr. Trump has given us only one indication about the type of judges he would appoint, and it does not bode well for those who would like to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade. Mr. Trump has said his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who struck down the Partial Birth Abortion Ban in New Jersey, would be a “phenomenal” choice for the court. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump also said he thought pro-choice Senator Scott Brown would make a “very good” Vice President. If one truly believes, as we do, that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life and is committed to the pro-life priorities of ending abortion after five months, and defunding the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, it would be a disaster to have a vice president who disagrees.

Moreover, as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular. He has impugned the dignity of women, most notably Megyn Kelly, he mocked and bullied Carly Fiorina, and has through the years made disparaging public comments to and about many women. Further, Mr. Trump has profited from the exploitation of women in his Atlantic City casino hotel which boasted of the first strip club casino in the country.

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate."
The anti-abortion movement's rejection of Trump came at the same time as the debut of Cruz's anti-abortion coalition. According to a press release at the Cruz campaign website, the Pro-Lifers for Cruz Coalition will be chaired by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and populated by prominent anti-abortion activists.

Pro-Lifers for Cruz participated in a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on January 27th. At the 47:45 mark of this C-SPAN video of the rally, Tony Perkins explained the stakes of the GOP power struggle. The Religious Right's dissension over Trump and Cruz makes more sense when one realizes that the right wants a Republican president who will appoint far-right Supreme Court justices. In the eyes of many right-wing leaders, Cruz can be trusted to do so, while Trump cannot.
"I'm here in this Coalition for Life because there is nothing more fundamental than the right to life. And we look at what has happened in this country--let's just take the last forty-three years. On Friday, I stood on the mall in Washington D.C. for the March for Life. Forty-three years ago, the Supreme Court declared that a child was a choice, rather than something to be cared for that was made in the image of its creator. That wasn't something that the people decided. It wasn't even something that the state legislatures on the Congress decided. It was the courts.

And then we go back to June 26th of this past year when the court -- five judges on the court -- declared that they knew better than fifty million people when they imposed on the entire nation a redefinition of marriage. Now, when you look at all of the things that we care about ... the court is directing this country. The next president will appoint two or three Supreme Court justices. This issue's being lost on a lot of people in this election. Unfortunately, the court does decide the culture of this country ... Ted Cruz is a strict constitutionalist. He can pick 'em out. If there's one person in this election for president that I want picking the next two or three Supreme Court justices, it's Ted Cruz." 
The discord over Trump and Cruz spells good news and bad news. The good news is that without solid Religious Right support, Trump may not be able to unite GOP voters. Without that unity, he may not secure the Republican nomination. This thought is comforting to those of us who don't want Trump anywhere near a seat of political power. Of course, with Trump's strong poll numbers, Trump may have enough critical mass to succeed without united Religious Right backing.

The bad news is that Cruz remains a viable candidate for the Republican nomination. With solid backing by Religious Right leaders, plenty of right-wing voters trust Cruz as a Christian candidate who will carry out their agenda. Cruz's anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Wall of Separation platform is not in America's best interest, and for that reason, I cringe at the idea of Cruz as the Republican nominee. If Cruz secures his party's nomination (and that grows increasingly plausible each day), whether or not he can win the presidency depends on the performance of the Democratic nominee.

EDIT -- Or am I just being pessimistic? Would Trump's arrogance and ignorance alienate sane voters, even if he won the nomination? Would Cruz's far-right agenda disgust moderates and progressives, without whom he could not win the presidential election? Is the current crop of Republican candidates simply too repugnant to win in November? We can hope.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

NPR: Donald Trump Tests Culture And Character Priorities For Evangelicals

Mother Jones: Ted Cruz's New Anti-Choice Group Is Headed by a Guy Who Thinks Abortion Caused the Drought

Right Wing Watch: Cruz Pro-Life Coalition Leader: U.S. Can't 'Survive Another 40 Years Of Roe v. Wade'

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

News Tidbits

Associated Press: Survey: Religious Objections Law Cost Millions

Associated Press: Indiana evangelical group dismisses survey on objections law

Al Jazeera America: Georgia businesses assess costs of ‘religious freedom’ law

Washington Post: Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. endorses Trump

Religion News Service: Trump gets official and unofficial endorsements from two leading evangelicals

LGBTQ Nation: Rep. Louie Gohmert: ‘It’s time to start impeaching judges’ for marriage equality

Washington Blade: Pope Francis reiterates opposition to same-sex marriage

Gay Star News: Kim Davis: It was a 'joy' to stand against gay marriage

Pink News: Australian PM defends right of predecessor Tony Abbott to speak at anti-gay event

Commentary Tidbits

Sheep Dip: Study: Sex Education Shrinks Brain Cells Vital to Essential Function of Fearing God’s Wrath

Right Wing Watch: Trump Embraces Radical Anti-Catholic, Anti-Gay Pastor 

Homeschoolers Anonymous: No Unbelievers Allowed: How Homeschooling Became a Christians-Only Club

The Girl Who Once Lived in a Box: How The Village illustrates isolated, fear-based homeschooling

The Guardian: A court vindicated Planned Parenthood, but the damage has already been done 

The New Civil Rights Movement: Anti-Gay Activist: Christians Need 'Militant, Warrior Mentality' To Defeat 'Satanic' LGBT Movement

Gay Star News: This gay man was banned from speaking to his mom or sisters for three years to 'cure' his sexuality

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 March for Life Promotes Faux Feminism

The 2016 March for Life took place on Friday, January 22nd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The March for Life is an annual gathering of anti-abortion activists, including conservative religious figures and political leaders. The March for Life rally included speakers such as Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, and Southern Baptist Convention ERLC president Russell Moore.

This year's March for Life included several satellite events, such as an anti-abortion expo and the 34th Annual Rose Dinner. The March for Life Conference featured keynote speech was entitled "Why the Pro-Life Movement Is the Authentic Women’s Movement", while the March for Life Youth Rally included workshops such as "Regret and Aftermath from Planned Parenthood Abortions" and "Pro-life Activism: Street, Online and Undercover".

I was astonished that thousands of participants marched in Washington D.C. right before an impending blizzard. The next day, when heavy snow made roads impassible and air travel impossible, many of those demonstrators probably found themselves stranded. I hope the march was worth it.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I observed the march in person in 2011 and blogged on the 2012 and 2015 marches from afar, and found the rhetoric repetitive and disconnected from reproductive realities on the ground. This was equally true for the 2016 gathering, which was oblivious to women's wants and needs.

Speakers at this year's march promoted a faux feminism, assuring their followers that denying reproductive rights to women actually empowered women. Anti-abortion figures claimed historic feminist champions as their own, insisting that the women's rights movement has always been anti-abortion. Activists who seek to protect abortion rights follow a "perverted feminism" that pits women against their children, they claimed. 

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina combined the usual anti-abortion rhetoric with faux feminism. At the 15:02 mark of this C-SPAN video, Fiorina attacked Planned Parenthood funding, referred to a discredited smear campaign that accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, and claimed that the Democratic platform says that "a life isn't a life until it leaves the hospital". Your nose is growing, Pinocchio, I thought.
"In less than a year, there will be a new president in the White House, and that next president will have the awesome responsibility to pick up to four Supreme Court justices who will decide issues of life and religious liberty. She will decide ... whether we force taxpayers to fund the political arm of the abortion industry, whether we as a nation believe, as the Democrat platform says, that a life isn't a life until it leaves the hospital. Yes, that is the Democrat platform, that a life isn't a life until it's born, and they call us extreme. It is Democrats, the pro-abortion industry, that is extreme.

The next president of the United States will have a lot to say about whether a baby only a month, only a month from being born is only as good as the organs you can sell from it. Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, this fight for the character of our nation."
Fiorina took swipes at Hillary Clinton and the left's "perverted" form of feminism at the 17:39 mark. She sneered at the idea of a war on women and of abortion as a vital health service.
"As we stand here today, Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire giving a pro-abortion speech. She is saying that I, as a conservative woman, that all of us as conservative women, don't count. But here's the truth. The left has perverted feminism into a political ideology where women are pitted against men and used as a political weapon to win elections ... Being empowered means having a voice, but ideological feminism now shuts down conversation on college campuses and in the media. If you are a pro-life man or, heaven forbid, a conservative woman who doesn't believe the litanies of the left, then you are waging a war on women, or you are a threat to women's health, or you are variously described as 'window dressing' ... or 'offensive' as a candidate."
Sue Ellen Browder, author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women's Movement, also promoted faux feminism at the march. At the 49:46 mark, Browder claimed that "pro-life family feminism" was responsible for women's suffrage and second wave feminism. The anti-abortion movement is the true champion of women because it refrains from "pitting the rights of a mother against the rights of her baby", she argued.
"In 1969, I was fired for being pregnant. I went on to get a job at Cosmopolitan magazine, where I promoted abortion as the royal road to women's freedom. Now I have written this book, Subverted, to say I was wrong. I was wrong about abortion.

Women are most empowered and most free when we are interconnected in love with others. Your branch of the women's movement -- pro-life family feminism -- gave women the right to vote. Your branch of the women's movement -- pro-life family feminism -- launched second wave feminism in the 1960s. And your branch of the feminist movement -- pro-life, family feminism -- is still here today, marching in the streets, hundreds of thousands of strong, defending the bond of love between a mother and her baby.

You, not Planned Parenthood, not NARAL Pro-Choice America, represent the authentic women's movement of the 21st century ... We need to stop pitting the rights of a mother against the rights of her baby. Whatever harms the baby harms the mother."
The willful blindness was astonishing. Browder appropriated second wave feminism for her cause, ignoring the many second wave feminists who advocated for abortion rights. She flatly ignored the fact that control of one's reproductive destiny -- control over if, when, and how often one bears children -- is seminal to women's empowerment.

Underneath all of the pseudo-feminist rhetoric of the march was the belief that women should be mothers. Former NFL athlete Matt Birk couldn't imagine why a woman wouldn't want to have a baby, or why mothers might regret having unintended children. At the 57:17 mark, he had this to say.
"We march because I've never heard a woman give birth to a baby and then say, 'I wish I'd had an abortion'. That's why we march. Because I've never heard somebody say, 'I wish I'd had fewer kids'. That's why we march."
I have heard people say those things. Matt Birk really needs to get out more.

Marguerite Duane, co-founded of the Fertility Appreciation Collaborative to Teach the Science, was appalled that women might choose to delay childbearing or take measures to be "free to have sex without pregnancy". At the 1:02:03 mark, she claimed that abortion devalues that which "makes a woman truly unique".
"Being pro-life is pro-woman because the pro-life movement affirms what is unique and special about every woman in all phases of her life, personally and professionally as a daughter, a mother, a sister, a single person, or a married woman.

As a physician, I have seen the effects of the segment of our society that does just the opposite, that does not affirm the dignity of women, but instead convinces women that in order to be equal to men, we need to be just like them, free to have sex without pregnancy, and to succeed in their lives professionally, they need to delay having children, or if they get pregnant, destroy their unborn baby. This does not empower women! Instead, it devalues or destroys what makes a woman truly unique."
Let that sink in. According to Duane, society tells women that in order to be men's equals, they need to be "just like them, free to have sex without pregnancy". What is Duane saying here? Does she see pregnancy as women's punishment for having sex? It wouldn't surprise me, since anti-abortion activism seems less concerned about cherishing life than about punishing women for being sexual.

The March for Life shows us how the anti-abortion movement has adapted its tactics. More and more Americans are realizing that the War on Women is real, and that opponents of reproductive freedom are not acting in women's best interests. The march's faux feminist rhetoric tries to distract women from those facts. Oh, we're treating women with respect by forcing them to carry pregnancies to term. Oh, we're actually celebrating women by pressuring them into unwanted motherhood.

Give me a break.

Center for Medical Progress Founder Indicted

Things are looking bad for the Center for Medical Progress, the organization behind an anti-Planned Parenthood smear campaign last year. Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood announced that it had filed a federal lawsuit against the parties behind "an ongoing, widely discredited video smear campaign", including the Center for Medical Progress. Now, the Center for Medical Progress is facing more legal woes.

According to the Associated Press, a Houston, Texas grand jury indicted David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, on a felony charge of tampering with governmental record. Sandra Merritt (alias Susan Tennenbaum), who appeared in the smear campaign videos, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with governmental record. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson explained that "we must go where the evidence leads us".

The grand jury investigated Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast after Texas Governor Greg Abbott launched a probe into Planned Parenthood's alleged harvesting and sale of fetal tissue, according to Reuters. CNN reports that the grand jury found no indication of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

The anti-abortion community is reacting as well as you'd expect.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Slate: Grand Jury Investigates Planned Parenthood, Indicts Anti-Abortion Activists Instead

The Atlantic: An Indictment for the Planned Parenthood Sting Videomakers

According to Matthew: Creators of fake Planned Parenthood videos get indicted

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quotes from Trump's Speech at Liberty University

On January 18th, presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at a weekly convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Founded by Jerry Falwell and currently headed by president and chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University is a prominent (and conservative) Christian educational institution.

C-SPAN captured Trump rambling remarks, which flattered Christians, celebrated militarism, and slammed Iran. Many of his remarks appealed to right-wing fears and American pride, regardless of whether such fears and pride were grounded in reality. For your edification, I've shared some quotes from the speech below.

First, Trump assured the audience that if elected president, he would protect Christians. At the 5:01 mark, he pointed to the oppression of Christians in Syria as evidence that Christianity is "under siege". I hope that Trump was not conflating ISIS atrocities against Christian minorities with the imagined "persecution" of Christians in the U.S.
"We're going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don't have to be politically correct. We're going to protect it. You know? ... I hear this is a major theme right here, but, Two Corinthians, right? Two Corinthians 3:17, that's the whole ball game. 'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty', and here there is Liberty College, Liberty University, but it is so true ... It's so representative of what's taken place. But we are going to protect Christianity, and if you look [at] what's going on throughout the world, you look at Syria, where if you're Christian, they're chopping off heads. You look at the different places, and Christianity, it's under siege."
At the 17:11 mark, Trump used the imaginary War on Christmas as a way to appeal to his audience. He claimed that if elected president, stored would be allowed to display the words 'Merry Christmas'.
"You go into a department store now, right? Where was the last time you saw 'Merry Christmas'? You don't see it anymore. They want to be politically correct. If I'm president, you're going to see 'Merry Christmas' in department stores, believe me."
Trump trumpeted his support for a stronger military (despite the fact that the U.S. has one of the strongest militaries in the world in terms of armed forces personnel and funding). He warned listeners that an election victory by one of the Democratic candidates would mean "high taxes" and "things are not going to happen with the military" At the 8:55 mark, he had this to say.
 "We need to build our military so big, so strong, so powerful that nobody, nobody is going to mess with us. We have to do it! 
At the 11:26 mark, Trump appealed to American humiliation over the Iranian capture of 10 U.S. Navy sailors and contention over the Iran nuclear deal. He vowed that America would be strong and respected, with "powerful borders".
"Iran is taking over the Middle East ... We have totally destabilized the Middle East. It's a disaster. And you look at this new Iran deal, which took forever to get done. You look at how bad it is and how one-sided it is. You look at how one-sided this deal is, and yesterday I heard that we're getting our hostages back. Some people call them prisoners, some people call them hostages. I don't care ... [Iran is] getting all sorts of advantages including free market oil. They're getting unbelievable advantages. They're going to be an immensely wealthy country -- wealthy terror country -- and they're getting $150 billion.

So when our sailors were captured last week, I said that's one of the saddest things I've seen, when those young people were on their hands and knees in a begging position, with their hands up and thugs behind them with guns, and then we talk like it's okay. It's not okay. It's lack of respect. We can't let that happen to this country ... We're going to be strong, we're going to be vigilant, we're going to have powerful borders and strong borders."
On the topic of U.S. borders, Trump repeated his plan to have Mexico pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep immigrants out. At the 27:20 mark, he assured his audience that building a wall would be easy.
"Who's going to build the wall, folks? You tell me. Who's going to build the wall? MEXICO. Everybody knows ... They say, 'Oh, you can't build a wall.' So easy. You have no idea ... I just built a 92-story building. I mean, when you build buildings, building a wall, it's like, give me some pre-fab plank. Bing! ... I have to make it look beautiful. Why? Because someday, they'll name the wall Trump Wall! ...

And by the way, we want people to come in, but we want people to come into our country legally! They'll go through a process. They'll go through a process."
At the 42:10 mark, Trump appealed to right-wing paranoia about gun rights, claiming that Second Amendment rights are "under siege". Tastelessly, he insisted that terrorist attacks in Paris and California could have been thwarted by armed bystanders.
"Second Amendment, very good. We've got to have the right to protect ourselves ... The whole gun situation, it's under siege. Now they're talking about we want to give less bullets, we want to take bullets away ... You can't let it happen. By the way, in Paris, which has probably the toughest gun laws in the world, and France, had bullets been going the other way, you wouldn't have had 130 people killed and plenty more to follow who were so badly injured.

In California, recently, two weeks ago where you had the 14 people killed ... by these two radicalized people, where the people that were killed gave them wedding parties. They held wedding parties. They knew them. They were friends. They went in and they killed 14 people. If we had somebody, a couple of guys like him or him or definitely him with the white hat on with a gun strapped in here [Trump motions to belt] and the bullets could go the other way ... you would have had problems. You wouldn't have had it to the same extent at all.

We need the Second Amendment. Don't let anyone take it away. If I get elected, it's totally protected."
Anti-refugee sentiments found their way into Trump's speech. At the 44:30 mark, Trump played to right-wing fears over terrorists masquerading as Syrian refugees, suggesting that an influx of refugees was to blame for recent violence in Europe.
"I won't let the Syrians that we have no idea who they are. They want to come into our country. They may be ISIS. It may be the great Trojan horse of all time. Who knows? We cannot take a chance. I want to build a safe zone some place in Syria. What's happening in Germany is a disaster. What's happening in Brussels, what's happening all over Europe. Europe is being absolutely swamped and destroyed, what's going on with the crime and the problems. And it could be some sinister plot."
Trump's speech at Liberty University did not elaborate on policy or include logical observations about current events.  As the right-wing's id personified, he appealed to his listeners' pride, soothed their egos, and gave voice to their anxieties. And the audience ate it up.

Demagoguery has always been part of politics, but Trump's demagoguery speaks to the Religious Right's persecution complex, fear of outsiders, and love for American hegemony. A political campaign that feeds irrational emotions should make us all uncomfortable.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links

The Daily Beast: Trump Pledges to Make God Great Again

Salon: Donald Trump’s speech at Liberty University proves just how gullible evangelical voters are

The Atlantic: The Religious Right's Donald Trump Dilemma

News Tidbits

Washington Post: As D.C. shuts down for a blizzard, a small, faithful crowd still joins the March for Life

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Washington blizzard limits turnout for March For Life

Chicago Sun-Times: Family Research Council calls Army secretary nominee a 'cultural landmine' 

The Age: Australia: Andrews to crack down on gay 'conversion' therapy

Commentary Tidbits

Religion News Service: ‘Evangelicals for Life’ participants join Catholics in annual march

NPR: Inside The Nationwide Tour To Support 'Godly Leaders' 

Queerty: Rev. Franklin Graham Denounces Gay Christians As “The Enemy” In Insane Radio Interview

Religion Dispatches: The Apocalypse Is Upon Us, Ted Cruz Endorsement Edition

Friday, January 22, 2016

IHOP's Mike Bickle Endorses Ted Cruz

Right Wing Watch just revealed that Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and a prominent New Apostolic Reformation preacher, had endorsed Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. The Cruz campaign announced the endorsement in a January 21st statement.
"HOUSTON, Texas – Presidential candidate Ted Cruz today announced the endorsement of Mike Bickle, Founder and Director of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, an evangelical missions organization based on prayer.

“Our nation is in a great crisis in this hour,” Bickle said. “We need a president who will first be faithful to honor God’s Word. We need a president who will work to defend religious liberty, uphold our Constitution, keep our country safe and our economy sound, and speak truth to the nation. We have been praying for righteous leaders, and Ted Cruz is such a leader. I am enthusiastically endorsing Ted Cruz.”

The International House of Prayer is engaged in many outreaches, justice initiatives, and mission projects. For the last 16 years, their prayer room has continued nonstop in 24/7 prayer led by worship teams. 800 staff members work at the IHOPKC Mission Base in Kansas City, and 800 full-time students and interns attend the International House of Prayer University, which consists of three full-time ministry schools— a Bible school, music school, and media school. About 20,000 people attend One Thing annually, IHOPKC’s year-end young adult conference

“Through prayer, the Lord has changed my life and altered my family’s story,” said Cruz. “I am grateful for Mike’s dedication to call a generation of young people to prayer and spiritual commitment. Heidi and I are grateful to have his prayers and support. With the support of Mike and many other people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith.”

Bickle is the author of 10 books including Passion for Jesus, Growing in Prayer, The Pleasures of Loving God, and The Rewards of Fasting. His teaching emphasizes making disciples who seek to walk out the two Great Commandments while serving together to see the Great Commission fulfilled and the fame of Jesus’ name fill the earth. Mike pastored for 23 years before starting the IHOPKC Missions Base in 1999, and has been married to Diane for 38 years, with two sons and five grandchildren."
Mr. Cruz, are you sure you want Mike Bickle associated with your campaign? Are you sure you want to trumpet the endorsement of an apocalyptic preacher who cultivates End Times paranoia among his followers? Who sees women as subordinate to men? Whose church came up repeatedly in media coverage of a tragic 2012 death?

This is not the first time Cruz has courted controversial allies from the Religious Right. For example, Cruz appeared at the Freedom 2015 conference alongside Generations with Vision host Kevin Swanson, whose homophobic meltdown on stage at the event left observers stunned. Right Wing Watch has also documented Cruz's other unsavory endorsements, including Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, anti-abortion activist Troy Newman, and activists from the anti-feminist Eagle Forum.

Cruz's affinity for unhinged and/or hateful figures will earn him a few evangelical votes, but will cost him exponentially more mainstream votes. Moderate and progressive voters will listen to Cruz's rhetoric, observe those with whom he breaks bread, and recoil.

Trump and Palin Remix

When you hear something this toe-tapping, you have to share it.

News Tidbits

The Guardian: Carly Fiorina accused of 'ambushing' children for anti-abortion rally

Oregon Live: Education department will out every religious college that discriminates against LGBT people

Buzzfeed: Republican Frontrunner For Montana Governor Has An Extreme Anti-LGBT Past

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Iowa lawmakers will investigate gay youth conference on smaller scale

Associated Press: GOP Lawmakers Want Exemptions for Gay Marriage Opponents

Christian Science Monitor: Ted Cruz isn't backing off 'God talk,' even in New Hampshire

Tri-City Herald: Mid-Columbia lawmaker in Olympia asks teens about their virginity

Nashville Scene: Far Right Protests Same-Sex Marriage at State Capitol

LGBTQ Nation: Donald Trump admits antigay hate group leader Tony Perkins helps write his speeches

New York Times: In Ireland, ‘Baptism Barrier’ for Public Schools Draws Protests

Commentary Tidbits

The Nation: The Schools Where Free Speech Goes to Die

RH Reality Check: Attack Videos Against Planned Parenthood Prompt California Bill

Los Angeles Times: Oregon armed protesters invoke Constitution -- with commentary from W. Cleon Skousen

Washington Post: Why the March for Life is becoming a destination for more evangelicals

Anne Landman: District 51 Distributes Flier for Christian Event Targeting Adolescent Girls

When Church Hurts: Is This Your Pastor?

The New Civil Rights Movement: Supporters of Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Rally in Tennessee, Say ‘Cost of Tolerance is AIDS’

The Guardian: Here's fresh insight into Pell's response to the child sex abuse crisis. It's not encouraging.

Right-Wing Figures Use Cologne Violence to Lash Out at Immigrants

Europe is still reeling from mass violence on New Year's Eve in cities such as Cologne, Germany. According to German prosecutors, 809 complaints have been filed in connection with New Year's Eve violence in Cologne, including 521 reports of sexual violence, reports the Associated Press. Civilian groups such as Finland's Soldiers of Odin have formed anti-immigrant crime patrols in the wake of the attacks.

As discussed in an earlier post, groups such as PEGIDA have used the attacks to bring attention to their political and social agendas. However, observers have warned their fellow Europeans against using the assaults to promote unrelated agendas. Reuters reports that during a public debate in Prague, European Union foreign policy head Federica Mogherini warned political leaders not to use the assaults "in an instrumental way" or to "[mix] it with other kind of affairs".

The American far right never got the memo.

As with other tragedies, some far-right figures used human suffering as an opportunity to pontificate on their own pet issues. They forgot about the victims of the Cologne violence, too enamored with their own anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

First, presidential candidate Donald Trump wasted no time in responding to the news. On January 6th, Trump posted a tweet that read "Germany is going through massive attacks to its people by the migrants allowed to enter the country. New Years Eve was a disaster. THINK!"

Reuters reports that during a rally in Iowa, Donald Trump spoke of the Cologne violence in the same breath as Germany's influx of refugees.
"Poor Germany! They're rioting right now in the streets of Cologne, rioting. What's gone on is unbelievable, with the crime, with the rape ... Here was a country that didn't have these--they didn't know about these problems. And I don't know what went on. Millions of people coming in, and what's happening in Germany is unbelievable."
Franklin Graham, whose statements about Muslims betray his mindset, saw the New Year's attacks as an opportunity to share his anti-refugee views. In a January 7th Facebook post, Franklin Graham used the Cologne violence as a platform to denounce supposedly inadequate vetting of refugees coming into the U.S.
"Gangs of Muslim men from North Africa and the Middle East roamed the streets of Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve attacking over 100 women—beating, groping, and raping. Unbelievably, authorities tried to cover it up because of fear and political correctness. Reports say that police were blocked from helping the women by groups of migrant men and were pelted by glass bottles and fireworks. This is a nightmare. Germany took in a record 1.1 million asylum-seekers last year, and look what is happening. If we don’t properly vet people that we allow to come into this country, this could happen here. I hope the Washington politicians—Republicans, Democrats, and the White House—see and recognize this very grave danger."
Pamela Geller, president of the anti-Islamic American Freedom Defense Initiative, weighed in as well.In a January 10th column at World Net Daily, Pamela Geller cited the New Year's attacks as evidence of a European "civil war".
"Yes, this is civil war. Will the Europeans fight? The police are on the side of their conquerors. There were too few police on New Year’s Eve in Cologne. The girls were on their own to “run the gauntlet.” And yet on Saturday, when there was a demo against the mass sexual attacks, there was an overwhelming police presence in Cologne. The anti-migrant movement was rallying against the rash of assaults on women by migrants in the city on New Year’s Eve. German police have water cannons and pepper spray to disperse demonstrators. Where was this strong police presence on New Year’s Eve? Why weren’t the tactics used against the anti-rape and robbery rally employed against the Muslim migrant hordes?"
Geller responded to the attacks with I-told-you-so language, insisting that Germany is "morphing into a Muslim state" before our eyes.
"I warned that all this would happen, and now it is happening. Those of us who sounded the alarm were smeared, libeled and relegated to the very fringe. European authorities have been much more intent on shutting down resistance to jihad than on stopping jihad activity and Islamic supremacism in their own countries.


Meanwhile, at such a time as this, “Mein Kampf” was reprinted in Germany for the first time in decades, and it immediately sold out. The timing on this is suspicious. “Mein Kampf” is a bestseller in many Muslim countries. Europe, and most particularly Germany, is morphing into a Muslim state at warped speed. The rise in Jew-hatred in Europe is tied directly to the increase in Muslim immigration. Islamic antisemitism is in the Quran."
Finally, the Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly used Cologne to buttress her anti-immigration stance. In a January 7th interview with World Net Daily entitled "Rape Jihad Shows Germany Is No Longer German", Phyllis Schlafly pointed to the Cologne violence as evidence that the U.S. should bar immigrants.
"We ought to close the border and say we’re going to have a pause in immigration, just like we did during the 1920s ... We respect our women in America. Other countries don’t. Other countries treat women pretty terribly. I just think we ought to close the border and have a pause, just like Trump believes."
Oh, that's rich, I thought. First, the Phyllis Schafly who claimed that husbands cannot rape their wives, who blamed the campus sexual crisis on too many women attending college, and who blasted the Violence Against Women Act as "feminist pork" is in no position to lecture anyone about respect for women. Second, closing U.S. borders would give female refugees one less country of refuge. This would be a slap in the face to women fleeing ISIS-controlled areas, where the treatment of women and girls is abysmal, as well as women fleeing other parts of the world where gender-based violence rages unchecked. If Schlafly respects women, why doesn't she want to help women escape violence?

What happened to the victims of the New Year's Eve violence? What happened to the real roots of the violence, such as misogynist attitudes in Europe's minority enclaves? If the far right is so incensed over Cologne, why won't it discuss these subjects? Because these aren't the far right's pet issues. It's much easier to rage against scapegoats than to cultivate empathy for crime victims, or to mount a sophisticated response to a social problem.

(Hat tip to the Washington Post.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

News Tidbits

Reuters: Thousands brave cold to attend Chicago anti-abortion march

Windy City Times: Protestors drown out anti-choice rally

Arkansas Online: Thousands at Capitol rally against abortion

NPR: Citing 'Two Corinthians,' Trump Struggles To Make The Sale To Evangelicals

Pink News: Shock as Anglican Communion punishes US church for acceptance of gays

Edmonton Journal: Catholic board chair didn’t approve sending parents letter from Calgary bishop

Gay Star News: A church in Australia is asking your forgiveness for Anglicanism's failure of LGBTI people

Gay Star News: Romania's Orthodox Church is pushing for a constitutional ban on gay marriage

Deutsche Welle: New church laws spur debate in Kenya

Commentary Tidbits

SPLC Hatewatch: Fresh Off Speaking to Anti-Muslim Group, GOP Candidates Address Event Organized by anti-LGBT Hate Groups

New Republic: Bully Pulpit

Washington Post: Donald Trump is running as Christianity’s savior. And it might work.

Gawker: I Watched Michael Bay's Benghazi Movie at Cowboys Stadium With 30,000 Pissed-Off Patriots

RH Reality Check: Denver Archbishop: Shun Candidates Supporting Planned Parenthood

Friendly Atheist: Ken Ham is Wrong; Newsweek’s Article About His Noah’s Ark Theme Park was Accurate

Finding Fundamental: Feelings Are Fundamental

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Kirk Cameron Lends Support to G.A. Henty Audio Drama

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mass Violence in Cologne: An Introduction

NOTE: Many of the articles and commentary pieces cited in this post contain disturbing content. Trigger warning!

The large-scale violence in Cologne and other European cities horrified the world. Before I discuss right-wing responses to the attacks, I'd like to provide an overview.

Cologne, Germany was thrown into chaos on New Year's Eve when roughly 1,000 Middle Eastern and North African men robbed and sexually assaulted women and girls near the city's train station. Over 100 women have reported their victimization to Cologne police, and hundreds more reported similar crimes in mass attacks across Germany.

Germans (including Germany's Muslims) and resident Syrian refugees were appalled by the mass sexual assaults. Cologne mayor Henriette Reker told Der Spiegel that the violence "threatens the balance in our country".

New Year's Eve sexual assaults weren't limited to Cologne.

  • Other Germany cities were flooded with reports of large-scale sexual assaults. The Local reports that groups of men sexually assaulted women in Frankfurt, Germany on New Year's Eve. According to Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Hamburg police recorded 133 cases of sexual assaults against women during New Year's Eve celebrations.

  • In Helsinki, Finland, security personnel reported extensive sexual harassment and sexual assault of women during the city's New Year festivities. The Telegraph reports that three Iraqi asylum seekers were arrested for committing sexual assaults in Senate Square during the celebration.

  • The Independent reports that three men were arrested in connection with sexual assaults that took place in Salzburg, Austria. In the wake of the attacks, Vienna police chief Gerhard Pürstl warned women not to walk alone at night or venture into "suspicious" areas.

The crisis is not without its heroes, however. The New York Times reports that Syrian refugee men came to a woman's aid during the Cologne chaos, a bright spot in an otherwise horrific night. Syrians and Tunisians have volunteered to provide security at the upcoming Cologne Carnival so as to prevent a repeat of the New Year's chaos, according to IRIN News.

Law enforcement is in the process of tracking down suspects in the mass assaults. German prosecutors are offering rewards of 10,000 Euros for information leading to the arrest of suspects, according to Reuters.

According to NBC News, authorities have identified 32 people suspected of playing roles in the Cologne violence, 22 of whom are asylum-seekers. North Rhine-Westphalia interior minister Ralf Jäger indicated that most of the assault suspects were migrants in a report to his state parliament's Internal Affairs Committee.

When news of the sexual assaults came to light, questions emerged as to why police did not gain control of the situation. According to the Guardian, a police report leaked to the German magazine Bild revealed that Cologne police were outnumbered and overwhelmed by perpetrators outside of the city's train station.

Overwhelmed or not, the police would be called to account for what happened. The Telegraph reports that Ralf Jäger suspended Cologne police chief Wolfang Albers amidst allegations that police responded too slowly and downplayed the scale of the violence. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker admitted that the Cologne police "did not fulfill their duty in this situation".

A victim-blaming comment from one of Germany's political leaders inflamed public outrage. Cologne mayor Henriette Reker advised women that "It is always possible to keep a certain distance that is longer than an arm’s length", according to the New York Times.

Enraged Germans condemned Reker's comment on Twitter using the hashtag #einearmlaenge* ("an arm's length"). Even German justice minister Heiko Mass criticized Reker's comment in a tweet that read "Von Verhaltenstipps für Frauen wie #einearmlaenge halte ich rein gar nichts. Nicht Frauen tragen Verantwortung, sondern Täter." ("I have a low opinion of behavior tips for women such as #anarmslength. It is not women who bear responsibility, but perpetrators.")

In a country where immigration is already a contentious subject, German attitudes toward immigrants have started to sour in the wake of the attacks. According to BBC News, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed denial of asylum and deportation for immigrants who have committed crimes. Anti-immigration groups such as PEGIDA (an acronym for Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West") are citing the attacks as they slam German immigration policy.

The New Year's assaults were soon followed by outraged protests. On January 10th, demonstrators marched in Hamburg to condemn violence against women, reports the Economic Times. According to the Guardian, three different protests took place in Cologne on January 9th, starting with a flashmob of female demonstrators decrying violence against women. Later that day, Cologne saw a gathering of people who supported PEGIDA, as well as an anti-PEGIDA counter-protest. CNN states that approximately 1,700 demonstrators took part in the Cologne demonstrations, roughly 500 of whom supported PEGIDA. Similar protests and counter-protests took place in Leipzig, according to Euronews.

Outrage and compassion brought forth demonstrations in other countries as well. Broadly reports that hundreds of Dutch demonstrators took part in an Amsterdam march to show solidarity with Cologne's victims.

Alarm over the mass sexual assaults has prompted citizens to form street patrols. According to Deutsche Welle, a Facebook group seeks to organize citizen patrols in the city of Dusseldorf, Germany. In Kemi, Finland, a group calling itself the Soldiers of Odin now patrols the streets to protect Finns from immigrants, according to Reuters.

Unfortunately, outrage has also given rise to violence.
  • Syrian refugees living in Cologne fear that anti-immigration extremists will target them for violence, according to IRIN News.

  • Cologne police stated that on January 10th, 6 Pakistanis were attacked by a mob of nearly 20 people and a Syrian man was attacked by five people, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses claim that an African man suffered an attack as well, reports the Independent.

  • When thousands of PEGIDA protesters assembled in Leipzig on January 12th, according to the Local, the rally was marred by violence on the sidelines. German police arrested 211 rioters who smashed windows, ignited pyrotechnics, and set cars on fire in Leipzig.

The New Year's Eve attacks were probably coordinated, judging from the sheer magnitude of the violence. But coordinated by whom, and for what purpose? Were the attacks the work of a criminal network? Were the attacks meant to instill terror in the populace? Or, most likely, was this someone's sick idea of "fun"?

Whatever the motives behind the attacks, the sexual assaults were rooted in misogyny. We must ask hard questions about the attackers' hatred of women, misogynist attitudes in Germany's minority communities, and rape culture. We must remember that violence against women festers in our own communities as well as Cologne, and that we must fight this pandemic problem wherever it exists.

Also, we must not lose sight of the women and girls who were victimized. The most important tasks in the wake of the New Year's attacks are to bring perpetrators to justice and foster healing among the victims. We must not use their victimization as an excuse to demonize all members of a given community, to ignore the plight of refugees, or to drive political agendas that have nothing to do with the New Year's Eve attacks.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

New York Times: As Germany Welcomes Migrants, Sexual Attacks in Cologne Point to a New Reality  (Trigger warning)

Women's eNews: New Year's Eve Attacks in Cologne, Germany, Spread Aftershocks  (Trigger warning)

Deutsche Welle: Cologne attacks: 'The Muslim faith is irrelevant to these drunken men'

Der Spiegel: How New Year's Eve in Cologne Has Changed Germany

Huffington Post: We Must End Violence Against Women In Germany

* When I searched for #einearmlaenge in Twitter, it brought up several anti-Muslim and anti-immigration tweets in English, suggesting that right-wing observers have adopted the hashtag.

News Tidbits

NBC 4 Washington: Trump Scheduled to Make Stop at Liberty University

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Students voicing objections to timing of Trump visit to Liberty University

The Advocate: Mike Huckabee Loses it When Questioned About Duggars

Newsweek: Noah's Ark Rises in Kentucky, Dinosaurs and All

Christianity Today: Kenya Puts Rules to Rein In Prosperity Preachers on Pause

Commentary Tidbits

Daniel Danger: I went to a Donald Trump rally and saw a man wearing a plastic bag as a shirt

CNN: When Donald Trump goes to Liberty University

Media Matters for America: The Media And Trump's Rally Thug

Sojourners: The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Complicated History with the LGBT Community

Revolutionary Faith: Driscoll’s “Confessions”: Unqualified to Minister

Out From Under the Umbrella: Rotten Apples

Rosa Rubicondior: Is Fundamentalism An Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ten Women File Lawsuit Against Bill Gothard

Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) founder Bill Gothard, a prominent name in the Christian homeschooling and Christian Patriarchy movement, is in legal trouble again.

For years, former IBLP participants have made disturbing allegations against Gothard. Multiple women have accused Gothard of misconduct at Recovering Grace. Back in 2014, several female employees of IBLP accused Gothard of sexual harassment, according to Religion News Service. Gothard was placed on administrative leave, and according to the IBLP website, is no longer associated with the organization. In a statement following the scandal, Gothard admitted to crossing boundaries with young women but insisted that he never touched a girl "immorally or with sexual intent".

Now, ten women have accused Gothard and his ministry of sexual abuse, according to the Washington Post. Homeschoolers Anonymous posted a copy of the lawsuit online, filed with the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Dupage County, Illinois. The lawsuit lists ten former Institute in Basic Life Principles participants as plaintiffs who have filed suit against Bill Gothard and the IBLP. 
"As stated in each individual Count below, each of the individual Plaintiffs were the victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate/unauthorized touching, many times while they were minors, at the hands of the IBLP, by and through its agents and employees, and suffered as a result thereof. Much of the sexual abuse and harassment occurred while the Plaintiffs were receiving counseling from the perpetrators/IBLP employees ... neither the Defendant IBLP nor its agents, employees, or directors reported these serious, potentially criminal allegations to law enforcement authorities, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, or other relevant state child welfare agencies, in accord with their duties and their statutory responsibilities."
According to the complaint, IBLP leaders failed in their responsibility to protect IBLP employees and participants from abuse. The male members of the IBLP executive management and board of directors were "blindly loyal to Defendant Bill Gothard at all times" and "placed the welfare and reputation of the IBLP and Bill Gothard above and beyond the welfare, rights, and dignity of the ten (10) young female Plaintiffs", the lawsuit claims.

In a January 6th press release, the IBLP claimed that it takes misconduct allegations seriously and welcomes the legal process.
"Today, the Institute in Basic Life Principles obtained a copy of a complaint at law, filed by various women against the Institute and William Gothard, Jr. The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of DuPage County, in Wheaton, IL. Some of the women who are plaintiffs in the current complaint had previously filed a lawsuit against the Institute and others; that previous complaint was dismissed by the court on December 2, 2015. 

The current complaint alleges mistreatment of the plaintiffs, including sexual harassment and abuse. Many of these allegations concern conduct that allegedly occurred as early as the 1990s, and, as claimed, primarily involved Mr. Gothard. Since March 2014, Mr. Gothard is no longer associated with the Institute.

The Institute takes very seriously any allegations of this nature, and above all else, is interested in determining the truth. We therefore welcome the structure and integrity of the court process as a means for determining the truth with respect to these allegations. 

The Institute will have no further statement at this time."
The Christian Patriarchy movement, which prides itself on supposedly safeguarding sexual purity and protecting women and children, has been plagued with one sexual abuse scandal after another. The scandals involving Doug Phillips and the Duggars are examples of how stars of the Christian Patriarchy movement preyed on those they were supposed to protect. Now, allegations against Gothard and the IBLP keep mounting.

These scandals reveal the ugly secret of Christian Patriarchy: it was intended to give men arbitrary power over women and children, not to protect women and children. When men -- misogynist, fundamentalist men who see themselves as mouthpieces of God -- have unchecked power over women and minors, abuse of that power is a real danger.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

The Frisky: Duggar Pastor Cops To “Sinful And Ungodly Behavior"

Wonkette: Duggar Guru And Hobby Lobby BFF Bill Gothard Maybe A Rapist, No Big

News Tidbits

Pink News: Baltimore mayor refuses to award ‘Key to City’ to pastor who compared gays to drug addicts

Salt Lake Tribune: Mormon gay policy is ‘will of the Lord’ through his prophet, senior apostle says

WISH TV 8: Indiana pastors deliver petitions to lawmakers opposing LGBT rights

Indianapolis Star: In LGBT rights debate, Pence urges lawmakers to guard religious freedom

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Bill lets businesses refuse services to gay couples in Georgia

Washington Post: Virginia House Republican files religious freedom bill

Washington Post: Virginia lawmaker reintroduces bill to ban conversion therapy

NPR: Ted Cruz Gains Endorsement Of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson 

CBS Philadelphia: President of Conservative Women’s Group Calls Hillary Clinton a Hypocrite

The Age: Calls to investigate 'ex-gay' movement in Australia

Commentary Tidbits

Pacific Standard: Growing Up With White Paranoia: Persecution vs. Privilege

Gawker: "Your Money Is in Your Heart": Baptized in the Prosperity Gospel

Quartz: A U.S. pastor sued by Ugandan LGBT activists says he faces a “powerful” international gay network

Talk to Action: Bill Gothard, Prominent Evangelical Christian Leader, Accused of Sexual Abuse and Harassment 

Politico: Cruz mega-donors’ path to ‘kingdom building’

The Guardian: Who’s driving high abortion rates? It’s the religious right

Daily Beast: Sex Abuse & Gay Conversion Therapy: The Dark Past of Justin Bieber’s Megachurch Hillsong

Huffington Post: Sledgehammers and Rights: The Double Standards of the Religious Right

Buzzfeed: Congressman Didn’t Know He Invited Kim Davis to the State of the Union

Planned Parenthood Sues Center for Medical Progress

In 2015, an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress launched a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, falsely claiming that the health care provider illegally sold fetal tissue taken from abortions. The smear campaign relied on secretly recorded (and deceptively edited) videos with Planned Parenthood staff regarding the donation of fetal tissue to medical research. Several states investigated Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of the campaign, only to find that the organization had done nothing illegal.

Now, Planned Parenthood is hitting back.

In a January 14th press release, Planned Parenthood announced that it had filed a federal lawsuit against the parties behind "an ongoing, widely discredited video smear campaign – charging that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion." The defendants named in the lawsuit include the Center for Medical Progress, BioMax, and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who reportedly "engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the health care organization from providing preventive and reproductive health services to millions of women and men." (Hat tip to Reuters.)

In a 107-page complaint filed with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, San Francisco Division, Planned Parenthood accuses the defendants of illegal activities.
"This complaint details a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists. The express aim of the enterprise— which stretched over years and involved fake companies, fake identifications, and large-scale illegal taping— was to demonize Planned Parenthood, harass and intimidate its dedicated staff, and interrupt its operations, all with the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion."
The complaint argues that the Center for Medical Progress' smear campaign jeopardized the safety of Planned Parenthood patients and staff and triggered a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs clinic in late 2015.
"This conspiracy has cost Plaintiffs millions of dollars and put the safety and security of Planned Parenthood’s personnel and patients at serious risk, as witnessed most horrifically in the shootings at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs on November 27, 2015."
Planned Parenthood's is suing the aforementioned parties for "[r]estitution of all monies expended by Plaintiffs as a result of Defendant’s unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices".

The Center for Medical Progress scoffed at the "frivolous" lawsuit, insisting that it did nothing more than bring attention to a "barbaric abortion for baby parts trade".
"Planned Parenthood is under investigation by the United States Congress and multiple law enforcement agencies, while their business is drying up and the public is turning against their barbaric abortion for baby parts trade. Now they are filing a frivolous lawsuit in retaliation for CMP’s First Amendment investigative journalism that has done nothing more than tell the truth about Planned Parenthood’s lawless operations. This last-ditch move of desperation is going to expose all of the sordid dealings of the California Planned Parenthood affiliates to the light of the legal system and the public will see them for the corrupt abortion and baby body parts profiteers that they really are."
In a January 16th press release, Troy Newman blasted the lawsuit while making bombastic but unsubstantiated claims about "murdered" women and "butchered" babies.

"Planned Parenthood lawsuits will not make me quit! I have read too many autopsy reports of women they have murdered, I have held the remains of babies they butchered, I have read the lies they spew in depositions, and I have witnessed their gruesome crimes against humanity. Nothing short of my life will stop me from the relentless pursuit of the truth to expose the barbaric bloodshed of Planned Parenthood. I will not stop, I will not relent. May God empower me to fight this treachery of human life to my last breath." 
I applaud Planned Parenthood for taking this step against its tormentors. Anti-abortion activists used unethical tactics in an attempt to bring down a health care provider that performs invaluable services. By standing up to the activists who launched the smear campaign, Planned Parenthood has shown the anti-abortion movement that it will not take these attacks sitting down.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

The Nation: Planned Parenthood to Undercover Video Group: We’ll See You in Court

Slate: Planned Parenthood Is Going on the Offensive with Massive Lawsuit

The Inquisitr: Anti-Abortion Activists Sued by Planned Parenthood