Monday, June 27, 2016

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Law Restricting Abortion Access

Today was an exciting day for reproductive rights. According to Reuters, the Supreme Court struck down a 2013 Texas law that imposed strict regulations on abortion clinics.

Texas House Bill 2, signed into law in 2013, forbid elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law also required doctors performing abortions to have active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location at which an abortion was to be performed. Today's 5-3 ruling on Whole Woman's Health et al. v. Hellerstedt declared that the law placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The Supreme Court's majority opinion concluded that "neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the  burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access ... and each violates the Federal Constitution."

Naturally, anti-abortion activists are unhappy about the ruling, insisting that it will harm women. Pro-choice activists would argue that if the Religious Right truly wanted safe health care for women, they would ensure safe, affordable, accessible abortion services for all women. Below is a sample of Religious Right tweets that were posted in response to the ruling.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

News Tidbits

Washington Post: Trump now proposes only Muslims from terrorism-heavy countries would be banned from U.S.

Raw Story: ‘Kill the gays’ pastor has a pulpit-stomping meltdown after he’s booted from online fundraising

KFOR News Channel 4: Supreme Court sides with family accused of not teaching kids while waiting "to be raptured"

Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel: Palm Beach County considering a ban on conversion therapy for gay, lesbian children

Edge Media Network: 'Ex-Gay' Support Group Leader Blasts Gay Men Who Challenged Tenn.'s Therapy Bill

CNN: Tony Perkins: Trump better for LGBT Americans than Clinton

Reuters: Brazil's Bible, beef and bullets lobby backs Temer, unfazed by scandal

Commentary Tidbits

New York Times: Kentucky’s Ark Defies Science but Evokes a Version of Christianity

Leaving Fundamentalism: The Terrifying Entry Conditions for Abusive Christian Reform Homes

New York Magazine: Top Evangelical Leader Suggests Trump Was Recently Born Again

Metro News: Because dinosaurs: Why Alberta must evolve beyond creationism

"Nice" Responses to the Orlando Shooting Don't Erase Past Homophobia

Following the Orlando massacre at the Pulse nightclub, some Religious Right figures responded with naked hatred. Others took a more subtle approach, denouncing the shooter's violence and extreme homophobia without rejecting homophobia completely. By doing this, they created the appearance of compassion, but refused to grapple with their own bigotry.

First, on June 12th, Sen. Ted Cruz released a statement denouncing the "act of vicious terrorism" and expressing sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. After urging Americans to work together to defeat Islamic extremism, Cruz proceeded to attack Democrats ("Democrats will try to use this attack to change the subject"), and President Obama and Hillary Clinton (who will supposedly use Orlando to undermine gun rights).

Perhaps the most disingenuous part of Cruz's statement was his condemnation of Islamic extremists' homophobia.
"For all the Democrats who are loud champions of the gay and lesbian community whenever there is a culture battle waging, now is the opportunity to speak out against an ideology that calls for the murder of gays and lesbians. ISIS and the theocracy in Iran (supported with American taxpayer dollars) regularly murder homosexuals, throwing them from buildings and burying them under rocks. This is wrong, it is evil, and we must all stand against it. Every human being has a right to live according to his or her faith and conscience, and nobody has a right to murder someone who doesn’t share their faith or sexual orientation. If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder."
How ironic that Cruz would condemn Islamic extremist homophobia while ignoring the fundamentalist Christian homophobia that he and his ilk have promoted for years. This is the same Ted Cruz who opposed same-sex marriage during his now defunct presidential campaign. This is the Ted Cruz who appeared on stage at the Freedom 2015: The National Religious Liberties Conference alongside the viciously homophobic Kevin Swanson. This is the Ted Cruz who accepted the endorsement of IHOP pastor Mike Bickle, who has raged against the "gay agenda" for years. This is the Ted Cruz who welcomed the support of countless homophobes, such as Phil Robertson, Flip Benham, and Ron Baity, while running for president. Does Cruz really expect us to believe that he cares about LGBTQ people now?

The Benham Brothers also weighed in after the Orlando shooting. In a video posted at CNS News and MRC TV, the brothers expressed sympathies for the families of the lost. "Our hearts are just broken for the families and for the victims of those who were killed at the gay bar, the gay club in Orlando, Florida," Davin Benham said, according to CNS News. "No one should ever be targeted like this, this ISIS plot. And clearly they’re targeting homosexual people." The brothers expressed relief that a similar incident may have been prevented at Los Angeles Pride.

However, Jason Benham reminded viewers that they still disapprove of homosexuality, but they do not believe that violence is a legitimate expression of those sentiments.
"We as Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong, and ... these two Islamic extremists ... believe it is wrong. But our response is different. We've been going to gay pride marches for the last decade, and we're planning on going this year to the Charlotte gay pride march. But you know what? We're going to bring the love of Jesus, to people that need Jesus. Look, these are our gay brothers and sisters, and we need to stand up for them now. That's our Christian response."

Translation: We're nice homophobes, not like those bad homophobes who kill people.

Jason Benham's claim that he and his brother love gay people is laughable. Recall that the Benham brothers' claim to fame was losing an HGTV series due to David Benham's offensive comments about gays. The two men have an extensive history of homophobic remarks and have publicly opposed pro-LGBTQ legislation. They can attend a pride march and talk about the "love of Jesus", but it won't make people forget their history of intolerance.

Finally, World Net Daily co-founder Joseph Farah decried the massacre in an online column. In a June 12th commentary piece entitled "All Americans Have Something in Common Today", Farah admits that the Pulse shooting was a hate crime committed in cold blood. "Was the Pulse nightclub attacked because it was a gathering place of homosexuals? I don’t doubt it for a minute," he writes. Farah explains that murdering LGBTQ people is wrong, no matter how one feels about LGBTQ issues.
"I must note, for the record, that whatever real Americans think about “gays,” lesbians, transgenders, bisexuals, they don’t hold murder in their heart for them. Whatever issues Christians may have with the LGBT agenda being foisted on them by politicians eager to court their support as an interest group, they don’t hunt down people who identify with that lifestyle and kill them. Whatever conservatives may think about national bathroom policies dictated from the White House, they don’t dream of killing sprees of vengeance."
Farah thinks that one can oppose LGBTQ equality without being hateful, which is false. The LGBTQ community is demanding equal rights, not foisting an "agenda" on Christians. Farah cannot even condemn the Orlando massacre without taking swipes at LGBTQ people.

Farah's swipes should not surprise us, given his history of denigrating LGBTQ people. In past World Net Daily columns, Farah mocked same-sex marriage activists and Hamas in the same breath, claimed that same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy and incest, and branded gays a "self-interested minority" whose activism set the stage for the Penn State abuse scandal. It's a shame that the Orlando massacre did not dent his anti-gay attitudes.

The Religious Right could have used this tragedy as an opportunity for self-reflection. A hate crime of this magnitude should have forced them to recognize LGBTQ people's humanity and question their own bigotry. Unfortunately, they've blamed everything else for the Orlando shooting except the homophobia they helped cultivate. Some blame the victims. Others blame national impiety. Some even blame immigration policies. None of them want to blame homophobia as a whole, because that would force them to admit that they fed the fires of hatred that galvanized Omar Mateen.

Of course, these figures don't want to be seen as heartless. They condemn the shooter. They offer compassion. They claim to love the LGBTQ community. However, most people see through their facade. Their history of anti-LGBTQ activism speaks louder than any of their words.

There is no such thing as "nice" bigotry. Bigotry is bigotry, and it differs only by degree. If the Religious Right truly wants to honor the people who were killed or injured in Orlando, its members must renounce bigotry outright and atone for their anti-LGBTQ activism.

Fellow blogger Infidel753 sums up the matter succinctly.
"The gist of it is that the less-murderous form of homophobia promoted by most fundamentalist Christians -- denouncing homosexuality as a sin, wanting to "cure" it by prayer or "therapy", and the many forms of ostracism and denigration and discrimination promoted via "religious freedom" bills and other laws targeting gays -- should be accepted and embraced since they are, after all, not as bad as actually killing gays as the Islamists do.

By this kind of argument, the Holocaust should have legitimized and justified lesser forms of anti-Semitism, since those who wanted to subject Jews to lesser abuses than the gas chambers could similarly have pointed out that their bigotry was different in character from Hitler's; blacks, too, should have accepted and embraced the oppression of the Jim Crow era since it was not as bad as slavery.  The idea that a group should simply accept certain forms of abuse against itself, because other forms of abuse which others want to inflict would be even worse, is one that can be made only from a position of utterly oblivious privilege.  It seems to be the default Christianist response to Orlando, though."

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Fusion: These anti-LGBT politicians are sending prayers to Orlando massacre victims, whom they considered second-class citizens

Friendly Atheist: Bryan Fischer: We Don’t Want Gay People Dead; We Want Them Cured

The Maddow Blog: Cruz sees Orlando massacre as possible wedge issue

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ungodliness is to Blame for Orlando, According to Some Religious Right Figures

Religious Right voices continue to chime in after the Orlando massacre. While some Religious Right figures have blamed gays for their own victimization, others are blaming an insufficiently pious society for the tragedy. In other words, some commentators see the massacre as a consequence of society's insufficient Christian faith and refusal to infuse laws with religious principles.

Two commentators come to mind. First, Kevin Swanson blamed the Orlando massacre on national sinfulness during a recent edition of his Generations with Vision radio show. At the 6:01 mark of his "Why the Orlando Shootings" show, Swanson claimed that America is collapsing because it is celebrating sin. Violence is a natural result of turning away from God, he argued.
"During the breakdown of an American republic, the breakdown of an entire empire, a civilization, a society is breaking down as the social fabric of the nation is unraveling, and that inevitably leads to a political and social collapse, and that's what we're witnessing in our present day. So hopefully, as Christians, we understand what is happening as man is destroying himself, but of course, the gospel of Jesus Christ still reaches ... those who are crying out for God's salvation from sin.
The problem of course with the nation is that not only have we sinned, but sin is now being institutionalized in just about every major institution in this country. That is, sin is preferred, and any form of righteousness is being persecuted across this country. Well today, we're going to talk about some of the effects of what happens when sin dominates in a nation. Violence, destruction, social unraveling is pretty much the result that we have witnessed and will continue to witness in the years to come." 
Swanson ignores the fact that society isn't collapsing and that Christian "righteousness" isn't being persecuted. Furthermore, Swanson's indictment ignores the complex roots of the Orlando shooting, including homophobia, Islamic extremism, and the shooter's personal issues. Rather than offer insight into the shooting, Swanson uses it as an opportunity to spout apocalyptic rhetoric and blame society for not sharing his religious beliefs.

A similar indictment came from American Pastors Network president Sam Rohrer during his appearance on the June 15th edition of The Steve Deace Show. While Rohrer reserved most of his condemnation for the "enemy ideology" of Islam and our "soft" political leaders, he claimed that God "removed his hand of blessing" from America because the nation rejected his laws. Those laws include "God’s design for the family", he said. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"...God has removed his hand of blessing on this country because we've turned our back upon him, and when he removed his hand of protection, these kinds of things come forth ... God has made very clear that every nation that he has established, and He establishes all nations. We’re told that all nations are established by God, even the very geographical boundaries of the nations are determined, that when a nation, any nation, does what God says, meaning that they fear him, that they uphold and enforce God’s moral law and God’s design for the family and for the church and for civil government, all of those are his. When those things are done, then God will bless a nation.

One of those blessings are the increase of wealth. One of those things is a security and protection from the neighbors around them. Even the enemies will be at peace with them, we’re told in a number of places in scripture. But when a nation backs off of that, particularly a nation such as ours that has a very biblical basis in an understanding of biblical principles, that’s where our Constitution came from, Declaration of Independence before that came out of that. When those things were there and put in place, when a nation turns their back on those things as we have and increasingly, arrogantly doing, then at that point the justice of God says ‘I cannot any longer bless’ and these things which you’re doing will lead to not his lack of blessing, but insecurity and so forth. That is basically the sense of where it is."
Rohrer fails to understand that tragedies take place for specific reasons, not because God is angry at America. Infusing society and government with fundamentalist Protestant beliefs would not have extinguished the homophobia, extremism, and personal demons that likely drove Mateen.

Ultimately, it's easier for Religious Right to blame society than to look long and hard at their own attitudes. The Religious Right is a vocal proponent of homophobia, but its adherents are reluctant to consider the ways that homophobic attitudes contribute to anti-gay violence. Unfortunately, self-reflection required humility and honesty, two virtues in short supply among the right.

News Tidbits

NPR: Inside Trump's Closed-Door Meeting, Held To Reassure 'The Evangelicals'

Religion News Service: Evangelicals give Trump much-needed boost after Manhattan summit

The Guardian: Trump warns evangelical leaders: 'Clinton will be worse than Obama'

Los Angeles Times: Faith-based colleges say California anti-discrimination bill would infringe on their religious freedom 

Associated Press: Mississippians take action against anti-LGBTQ ‘religious exemption’ bill

The Globe and Mail: Canada: Montreal Catholic archdiocese forbids priests from being alone with children

Pennlive: Ahead of possible Senate vote, Catholic House lawmakers call out Catholic Church, make push for child sex crime reform bill

WCPO: Man disrupted prayer, impersonated police officer at West Chester mosque

Fox 13: State supports Noah’s Ark theme park, not all residents on board

Reuters: Kentucky clerk opposed to gay marriage says state law negates appeal

Commentary Tidbits

Abi Bechtel: Always Them, Never Us: Parsing the Evangelical Response to Pulse

Vice: 'She Didn't Say Vagina': Sex Ed in Fundamentalist Christian Homeschool

Chicago Magazine: The Cult Next Door

Samantha Field: Things Not Even Tolerated by the World: Christians and Hypocrisy 

The New Civil Rights Movement: Trump Promises Evangelical Leaders He Will Strike Down Ban on Tax-Exempt Groups Engaging in Politics

Right Wing Watch: Donald Trump Taps Michele Bachmann, James Dobson & Other Far-Right Leaders For Advisory Board 

Think Progress: What Happens When Gay People Are Told That Homosexuality Is A Sin?

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Homeschooling as a Totalistic Tool

The Advocate: 9 Truly Terrible Reactions to the Orlando Shooting

Fundamentalists Spew Hatred After the Orlando Massacre

In the wake of the June 12th mass shooting in Orlando that left dozens dead and injured, the outpouring of homophobic hatred from some Religious Right figures has been jarring. While many Religious Right figures have expressed sympathy (no matter how disingenuous) for those shot at the Pulse gay nightclub, others have blamed the victims and spewed homophobic hatred.

  • Notorious misogynist and homophobe Steven Anderson, pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, quickly mocked the Orlando shooting victims. "The good news is there are fifty less pedophiles in this world," he said in a video, according to Phoenix New Times. Anderson went on to blast the victims as "disgusting perverts" who seek to recruit youngsters into "their filthy homosexual lifestyle".

  • James David Manning, pastor of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York, insisted that gays posed a greater threat to America than Islamic extremists in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. "The sodomites are more dangerous to America and its well-being than the jihadis ... Show me how Muslims are stronger than the sodomites in terms of their destruction, their forces, their political power?" he said, according to Pink News.

  • In Sacramento, California, the pastor of Verity Baptist Church heaped scorn on the "sodomites" who died in the Orlando shooting. According to the Sacramento Bee, Roger Jimenez reportedly told his congregation that Orlando "is a little safer tonight," adding that, "The tragedy is that more of them didn't die. I'm kind of upset he didn't finish the job." Hundreds of Christian clergy members from the Sacramento City Pastors Fellowship condemned Jimenez' cruel rhetoric. Several days later, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside Jimenez' church to show solidarity with the Orlando victims, according to the Guardian.

  • In Johnson City, Tennessee, Pastor Jesse Price of Beech Cliff Pentecostal Holiness Church put a message on the church's sign that read "God's wrath may be getting started to fall on the gays," according to WCYB.

  • In Buford, Georgia, the Back to the Bible Holiness Church posted a sign that read "God created man & woman; Satan made gays & transgender Gen 5:2", according to NBC 11 Alive. Vandals later covered the sign in black paint, reports the Associated Press.

  • In Fort Worth, Texas, Stedfast Baptist Church pastor Donnie Romero demonized LGBTQ people as "predators" who are "wicked" and "all worthy of death", reports CW 33.

  • Author Timothy Buchanan penned a commentary piece for Barbwire entitled "Orlando: What No One Wants to Consider". Buchanan wrote that homophobia "is a normal and natural response to something abhorrent" and cannot be eradicated. Rather than promote unity in morality, America has promoted diversity, which he calls a "weakness". Buchanan's angry, rambling column concluded than LGBTQ people should go back in the closet because their "defiant wickedness" is dangerous. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
"It’s worth considering that homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals might be safer returning to the closet. Flaunting gross immorality and defiant wickedness that is hideous, odious and wretched to an overwhelming majority of people is a foolish and dangerous course of action."

This is the fruit that bigotry bears. This is the rotten, festering underside of the Religious Right. While some Religious Right voices feign sympathy for the Orlando victims, these hateful responses show the Religious Right's true colors.

When believers promote homophobic interpretations of religion that denounce same-sex intimacy as sinful and LGBTQ people as "abominations", this hatred is the result. When churches idolize heteronormative, patriarchal families and denigrate anyone who deviates from the paradigm, this hatred is the result. When fundamentalists demonize and dehumanize an entire community, this hatred is the result. A belief system infused with so much blind hatred is not only spiritually corrosive, but dangerous.

The silver lining here is that bigotry is driving more and more people away from fundamentalist Christianity. As more Americans learn to coexist with their LGBTQ neighbors, bigots will find themselves increasingly marginalized. Let that day come soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

News Tidbits

The Hill: LGBT group accuses Trump of courting hate groups 

Tampa Bay Times: LGBT pride flag raised after Orlando shooting 'unbearable' for Christian employee, Hillsborough commissioner says

Fox 4: Fort Worth pastor praises Orlando nightclub deaths

Associated Press: Religious conservatives attempt balance in Orlando response 

WHIO 7: UD faculty publish book examining Creation Museum

Christian Today: Josh Duggar sex scandal: Another girl steps forward to say she was also a victim

Military Times: Human cloning fear could stymie effort to provide wounded vets with fertility care 

Globe and Mail: Canada: Catholic school board chair revises sex-ed view after son reveals sexual abuse

LGBTQ Nation: UK: Because of bar sign supporting Orlando victims, customer accuses owners of ‘promoting homosexuality’

Commentary Tidbits

Raw Story: Trump to meet with 400 anti-LGBT evangelists one week after claiming to be a ‘friend’ of the gay community

Mother Jones: 1000 Evangelicals Gather to Hear the Gospel According to Donald

Mediaite: LGBT Activist Group Stages ‘Die-In’ Outside Trump Tower 

The Guardian: Why the shameful silence from the Catholic church on LGBT issues?

American Prospect: Will the Court Restrict Abortion to the Wealthy?

Scott Lively's Oblivious Response to the Orlando Shooting

Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries and infamous anti-LGBTQ activist, penned a commentary piece for World Net Daily after the Orlando massacre. In his piece, "A Time for War: Take the Pledge to Protect America", Lively claims that he would have shot Omar Mateen if he were at the Pulse nightclub during the shooting. He refuses to admit that his homophobic activism played any role in the Orlando shooting.
"I have received some hate mail to the effect that my biblical stance against homosexuality is somehow responsible for “gay” Muslim Omar Mateen’s campaign of slaughter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It’s absurd on its face, but it affords me the opportunity to tell you this: If I had been present and armed when Mateen opened fire, I would have shot and if necessary killed him to protect the people in that bar, including the homosexuals. Not because I have in any way changed my mind about homosexuality – the Bible is crystal clear that it is an abomination before God that He (not me) will judge – but because the Bible also tells me to “rescue those being led to slaughter” (Proverbs 24:10-12).

While in Christ I may choose to turn the other cheek regarding an offense against ME, I have no right to stand idly by when someone attacks YOU right in front of me. I have a biblical duty to defend anyone, regardless of their sexual proclivities, from murder if it is within my power to do so. I stand firmly against the sin of homosexuality and against the sin of violence toward homosexuals."
Lively called the shooting a "spiritual turning point in the Islamic war against the West", warning his readers about the growth of "global Islamist jihad". He contrasted Christian homophobia, which allegedly wants gays "saved and healed", with Islamic homophobia, which wants gays to be murdered. Lively never countenances the idea that homophobia itself is wrong, or that all homophobia contributes to a cultural atmosphere of homophobic violence.

Lively vows to use force to stop terrorists, should he find himself in the midst of a terrorist attack, and urges Christian men to take the same pledge. Considering how unlikely he is to find himself in such a situation, I doubt he'll ever need to act on his vow. Furthermore, a bystander would be powerless against a bomb blast or assault rifle in an actual terrorist attack, so his pledge is moot.
"Furthermore, I think the Orlando Massacre is a spiritual turning point in the Islamic war against the West that represents a literal call to arms for Christians – not because the victims were or weren’t homosexuals (though this is a wonderful opportunity to contrast our Christian love for “gays” – we want them saved and healed – with the demonic hatred of the Muslims who want them dead) but because the incident proves that the global Islamist jihad has metastasized beyond the reach of conventional warfare. I think all Americans, including Christians, should from this day forward be ready to personally respond to any terrorist incident with force. I hereby make a pledge that if I ever find myself in a situation where a terrorist begins killing people around me, I will take whatever action is necessary to stop him, even at the risk of my own life. I urge every Christian reading this column – especially the men – to take this pledge as well."
Lively suggested that the Orlando attack was merely the latest example of Islamic violence against westerners. In his usual livid fashion, he made sure to point out that the Ottoman Turkish sultan "demanded as part of his tribute from Christian Europe 500 boys per year to submit to homosexual sodomy as sexual slaves". After reflecting on the "barbarously cruel and relentless Muslim hordes" that threatened Europe in centuries past, he defended the Crusades as a legitimate response to "this centuries-long campaign of Muslim aggression".

Ever the homophobe and misogynist, Lively claimed that American children are being "brainwashed" with both "pro-Islam propaganda" and pro-LGBTQ messages. Instead, he argues, America should return to "masculine Christianity" and patriarchal families.
"These same schoolchildren that are being brainwashed with pro-Islam propaganda are also the subject of culture-wide radical LGBT social experimentation, turning our boys into girls, and girls into lesbians, just when the nation needs a return to a more masculine Christianity and the patriarchal family structure. That must end!"
Let's be honest. For all his talk of wanting to protect the Pulse patrons, Lively still feels contempt for LGBTQ people. He is using the Orlando shooting as an opportunity to to slam Muslims and champion his worldview, not to cultivate real empathy for the shooting victims.

Lively couldn't be more oblivious to the root causes of extremist violence. He encourages male dominance and toxic masculinity while ignoring the relationship between toxic masculinity, patriarchy, and mass killings. He promotes homophobia in the wake of a homophobic attack. He proposes a hateful, us-versus-them interpretation of religion in response to the crimes of a man infected by hateful, us-versus-them religion. His hypocrisy would be funny in less tragic circumstances.

We can't fight homophobia, patriarchy, and religious extremism with more of the same. We can't cure a case of poisoning with more poison.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

News Tidbits

Texas Observer: Dallas LGBT Advocates Eye Ban on ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy

WCYB: Church sign causes uproar in wake of Orlando shooting

Hanover Evening Sun: Pastor harassed over sign supporting Muslims

NPR: Southern Baptists Split With Donald Trump On Refugee Resettlement

Washington Post: Southern Baptist Convention votes to condemn Confederate battle flag

The Memphis Commercial Appeal: Bellevue Baptist pastor Steve Gaines new president of Southern Baptist Convention

Reuters: Pope calls most Catholic marriages invalid

Associated Press: Liberty University textbook omits content on sexual orientation

Syracuse Post-Standard: Judge nixes 'buffer zone' keeping anti-gay protester away from CNY Pride Fest

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia: Scots College asks church for advice on same-sex parents

Religion News Service: Former Mars Hill Church elder moves to dismiss lawsuit against him

Commentary Tidbits

Truth-Out: The Rural Sacrifice to Capitalism and Christianity

This Ain't Livin': Catholic hospitals are taking over the health care system

New York Times: Have Christians Created a Harmful Atmosphere for Gays?

Huffington Post: To My Conservative Christian Family: A Response To The Orlando Shooting

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Christian Conference Features Alleged Sexual Predator Bill Gothard

Think Progress: Anti-Transgender Campaign Aims To Gain Support By Harassing Women In Restrooms

Catholic Church Accused of "Mob Boss Approach" to Statute of Limitations Reform in Pennsylvania

After the clergy abuse scandal in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese left Pennsylvanians reeling, the Pennsylvania legislature is currently considering a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. House Bill 1947 would allow childhood sexual abuse victims 32 years after attaining the age of 18 to pursue damages against their abusers. Unfortunately, the bill has a powerful and relentless opponent.

The Catholic Church, with its long history of clergy sexual abuse of children, has opposed statute of limitations reform in California, New York, and other states. Now, the Catholic Church is fighting Pennsylvania's HB 1947.

Catholic Philly reports that Archbishop Charles Chaput sent a letter opposing HB 1947 to all 219 parishes under the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The letter was to be read or made available at Mass during the weekend of June 4-5.
"A bill is currently pending in our state senate, HB 1947, that poses serious dangers for all of our local parishes and for the ministries, charities and schools of our archdiocesan Church.  With this letter, I urge you to write or telephone your local state senator and members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against HB 1947, and especially to oppose any retroactivity provision in the civil statute of limitation covering sexual abuse ... HB 1947 and bills like it are destructive legislation being advanced as a good solution.  The problem with HB 1947 is its prejudicial content.  It covers both public and religious institutions — but in drastically different and unjust ways.  The bill fails to support all survivors of abuse equally, and it’s a clear attack on the Church, her parishes and her people."
Chaput's letter claims that the bill would treat private institutions unfairly over "crimes committed by bad individuals in the past". I did not see anything in the bill's text to that effect.
"HB 1947 is retroactive for private and religious entities, but not retroactive for public institutions.  It places very low caps on damages for sexual abuse in public schools in the future.  And it makes it hard for abuse victims to sue public institutions going forward.  Meanwhile, private and religious entities face unlimited liability for exactly the same evil actions, and not just going forward, but also in the past.

This is not justice.  In fact, HB 1947 actually excludes most victims.  And it also targets innocent Catholic parishes and families, like your own, who will bear the financial burden of crimes committed by bad individuals in the past, along with the heavy penalties that always result from these bad bills."
This is not the first time Chaput has attacked statute of limitations reform. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Chaput fought against a similar bill in Colorado during his time as Archbishop of Denver.

Parents of children who attend Philadelphia Catholic schools also received an e-mail from the Archdiocese urging them to fight HB 1947, according to Pennlive. Some Catholics were disgusted by Chaput's letter and the e-mail, with good reason.

State lawmakers who support the bill have also been named in church bulletins and single out by church advocates, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to the Guardian, Archbishop Chaput "inadvertently" sent an e-mail to Santora, accusing the lawmaker of "betraying" the Catholic church and warning that he would suffer "consequences" for supporting HB 1947. Rep. Mike Vereb called Chaput's tactics a "mob boss approach", branding his efforts as "dangerous for the status of the church in terms of it being a non-profit."

The state's other bishops have also come out against HB 1947. Following a Pennsylvania Senate hearing on HB 1947 last week, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference released a statement on the bill. The PCC insisted that it was not opposed to statute of limitations reform, only to retroactive civil lawsuits.
"The PCC is not opposed to eliminating the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions. We can all agree that anyone who sexually abuses a child should be punished by the law.

However, the PCC is opposed to a provision in the bill that would allow retroactive civil lawsuits against private and religious entities. The lawsuits, many of which would be impossible to defend, could lead to the closure of parishes, schools and ministries that serve today’s Catholics, who are in no way responsible for abuse that occurred decades ago."

Catholic leaders aren't fooling anyone. The Catholic Church's resistance to HB 1947 has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the bill or fair treatment of institutions. Church leaders are fighting statute of limitations reform because they don't want to deal with victim lawsuits, which have already cost the institution billions. As usual, the church is reluctant to take responsibility for child sexual abuse committed by its clergy, and is fighting tooth and nail against legislation that would empower clergy abuse victims.

Instead of spending millions of dollars lobbying against accountability measures, the Catholic Church needs to ensure justice for victims and allow them to sue for damages. Unfortunately, this will not happen as long as the Catholic Church cares more about self-preservation than morality.

Perhaps Chaput and his ilk should re-read the Gospel of Matthew passage about those who cause children to stumble.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Lancaster Online: Faith leaders want child sexual abuse victims to have day in court

Allentown Morning Call: Statute of Limitations Lobbying Over Top

Philadelphia Inquirer: Justice for victims won't devastate the church

Pennlive: Stanford rapist's dad and the Catholic Church abuse victims all over again

Thursday, June 16, 2016

News Tidbits

Houston Public Media: The Abortion Training Taboo: How Texas Politics Influence Medical Education

New York Times: Groups Unite to Push for More Conservative G.O.P. Platform at Convention

WPR: Evangelical Rally Draws Thousands To Madison; Franklin Graham Urges People To Vote For Christian Candidates

The Guardian: Protest at church's praise for Orlando massacre reveals California's fault lines

Associated Press: Chick-Fil-A in Orlando Donates Food After Massacre

Cincinnati*com: Former president Jimmy Carter visits Ark Encounter

Commentary Tidbits

Mashable: Orlando attack is a 'wake-up call' to stop dehumanizing LGBT people, advocates say

American Prospect: The Religious Right’s Crocodile Tears Over Orlando Shooting

Alternet: Orlando Massacre Comes After Lawmakers in U.S. Filed More Than 200 Anti-LGBT Bills

Wall of Separation: Exploiting Orlando: The Threat Of Rhetoric That Divides Instead Of Unites

The New Civil Rights Movement: 'Ex-Gay' Activist Denounces Use of LGBT Pride Flag to Mourn Orlando Victims

The Advocate: The Baptist Pastor Who Cheered Orlando Murders Isn't Alone

Think Progress: Public Schools Across The Country Are Violating The Separation Of Church And State

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Quotes from the United State of Women Summit

On Tuesday, June 14th, the United State of Women Summit took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the White House (with support from the Ford Foundation, the Pepsico Foundation, the Tory Burch Foundation, and Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program), the summit was an exhaustive look at the state of women and girls in the U.S. Speakers focused on six topics: economic empowerment, health and wellness, violence against women, education, entrepreneurship and innovation, and leadership and civic engagement.

Political leaders, activists, and celebrities were among the summit speakers. White House leaders such as President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Tina Tchen spoke about the status of women, as well as comedian Amy Poehler, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, astronaut Christina Koch, tennis player Billie Jean King, It's On Us' Kristin Avery, the International Rescue Committee's Nazanin Ash, Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles, Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávezs, and NORAD commander General Lori Robinson.

My colleagues and I had the pleasure of attending the summit, where we manned an exhibit table for our workplace. I fondly recall Mariachi Flor de Toloache performing in the exhibit hall, and Batalá Washington beating drums on the floor above us. As speakers addressed the crowd in the main auditorium, exhibitors watched the speeches on a huge screen suspended above the exhibit hall.

For your reading pleasure, below are some quotes from the United State of Women summit speakers. President Obama observed that women have made great gains during his lifetime.
"The year I was born, in 1961, women made up less than 40 percent of college students. Today, you earn almost 60 percent of college degrees, make up roughly half of the workforce. Back then, the pill was still illegal in some states. And today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, birth control is free. In the old days, women actually needed a husband to open a credit card. Today, more women are choosing to be single -- and all Americans are able to marry whoever they love.

Fifty-four years ago, Katherine Johnson did the behind-the-scenes math to put a man in orbit. Today, almost 60 women have blasted into space themselves. When I was growing up, fewer than 300,000 girls played high school sports. Today, because of Title IX, more than 3 million girls are on the field. Women are leading America at every level of society, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from the C-suite to the federal bench to the Federal Reserve.

And that is progress. It’s real and we have to celebrate it, but we also have to remember that progress is not inevitable.  It’s the result of decades of slow, tireless, often frustrating and unheralded work by people like Dorothy Pitman-Hughes and Gloria Steinem, who is here today -- people who opened our eyes to the discrimination, both subtle and overt, that women face.  People like Pauli Murray and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who insisted on equal justice under the law. People like Wilma Mankiller and Patsy Mink, who redefined what leadership looks like. And, yes, people like Hillary Clinton who’ve raised the expectations of our daughters -- and our sons -- for what is possible."
President Obama also acknowledged that sexism and gender stereotypes still exist and must be confronted.
"We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure, and our boys to be assertive; that criticizes our daughters for speaking out, and our sons for shedding a tear.

We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs. We need to change an Internet where women are routinely harassed and threatened when they go online.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, penalizes working moms. 

We need to keep changing the attitude that prioritizes being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace -- unless you’re a woman.

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. About how they look, about how they feel, about what they should or should not do."

First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey had a conversation on stage, during which Ms. Obama spoke at length about her life, her family, and her time in the White House. When Winfrey asked the First Lady what she wanted attendees to take away from the summit, Ms. Obama replied that much works remains to be done. 
"... The work always continues. And by that I mean we’re never done. We can never be complacent and think that we’ve arrived now as women. Because I hear this from young women. Some of you young women who aren’t feeling the pains that many of our predecessors have felt -- you think, well, there aren’t any problems, women’s rights, we’ve got this all figured out, I’m already equal, I’m good -- I’m just like, oh, just you wait, you’ll feel it.

So the work continues. And for all the young women in this room, all the young men, we can never be complacent. Because we have seen in recent times how quickly things can be taken away if we aren’t vigilant, if we don’t know our history, if we don’t continue the work."

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a passionate speech about violence, during which he called men's violence against women and children "the cardinal sin of all sins".
"This abuse is not a personal matter. It's not a family issue. It's not a misunderstanding or something she had coming. Violence against women is a crime, pure and simple, deserving of our nation's legal and moral disapprobation."
Biden talked about legal advances for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, he stressed that cultural changes must accompany legal changes.
"Changing law is only the beginning. We have to change the national culture, a culture that condones [and] too often promotes violence against women ... We have to take off the social blinders that make it so easy for people to overlook violence rather than confront it. We have to throw [out] the mindset that excuses sexual assault by saying, 'boys will be boys; it's just the way it is'. We have to ensure that survivors' right to justice is always paramount above everything else, including, including the perpetrator or the school's reputation."

Actress and Allstate Foundation ambassador Kerry Washington talked about financial abuse and the vital importance of economic empowerment for women, especially for women escaping domestic violence.
"We have to support economic empowerment and freedom for women, because if women have the tools to leave, they can leave and get the kind of emotional and psychological healing that ends the cycle of abuse. We can no longer allow economic disempowerment to keep women and families trapped."

Attorney General Loretta Lynch offered poignant reflections on the Orlando shooting just two days before, urging Americans to come together against hatred.
"Far from dividing us, as terrorism aims to do, let us show the world that this attack, this attack has brought us together in support, has brought us together in solidarity, has brought us together in love ... We will all stand together. We will all be united. We will all be proud."
Many thanks to the White House and to all the organizations that made the United State of Women possible. These are the empowering messages that America needs to hear!

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Good: White House Hosts First United State Of Women Summit

Teen Vogue: The United State of Women Summit Is Proof That Girls Run the World

Colorlines: Michelle Obama's Advice to Men at United State of Women Summit: 'Be Better'

"Keep Kissing" Photo Project Celebrates Affection and Defies Hatred

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, two Pennsylvanians have launched a photo project called Keep Kissing. Omar Mateen, the reported Orlando gunman, became angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami, his father told the news media. The Keep Kissing project encourages LGBTQ couples to show affection as an act of defiance against homophobic hatred.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Right-Wing Figures Use Orlando to Stir Up Anti-Immigrant Hysteria

Not even 24 hours have passed since the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, and already right-wing figures are using the shooting as an opportunity to slam immigrants. Even though the reported gunman, Omar Mateen, was born in the U.S., some right-wing commentators are using the massacre to inflame fears of Muslim immigrants and refugees.

First, Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Donald Trump (who vowed to prevent Muslims from entering the U.S. last year) wasted no time in exploiting the tragedy. In a June 12th statement, Donald Trump warned his supporters that Middle Eastern immigrants would put America at risk for future terrorist attacks. He assured readers that he would protect America from Islamic extremists if elected president. (Hat tip to the New York Times.)
"The terrorist, Omar Mir Saddique Mateen, is the son of an immigrant from Afghanistan who openly published his support for the Afghanistani Taliban and even tried to run for President of Afghanistan. According to Pew, 99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia Law.

We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States.

Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.

We need to protect all Americans, of all backgrounds and all beliefs, from Radical Islamic Terrorism - which has no place in an open and tolerant society. Radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans. I am going to be a President for all Americans, and I am going to protect and defend all Americans. We are going to make America safe again and great again for everyone."
In a commentary piece at Breitbart entitled "The Left Chose Islam Over Gays; Now 100 People are Dead or Maimed in Orlando", Milo Yiannopoulos defended Trump's 2015 call for a ban on Muslim immigrants. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, he depicted Muslims as a dangerous force besieging western culture.
"A lot of people laughed at Donald Trump when he suggested a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. No doubt they thought he was further harming his chances in the general election.

No one is laughing now. What’s more, I expect many are quietly wondering if the “temporary” ban might have to be permanent. Western capitalist democracy gave women and gays equal footing in society; Islam has arrived to roll the clock back."
In another commentary piece at World Net Daily entitled "We Are Not A Nation of Immigrants", Gina Loudon warned readers about "evil men" who seek to "breach our borders" and "shout to their god as they massacre innocent Americans". While she did not mention the Orlando shooting per se, the timing of her column was revealing.

"Enemies of our American system wave the flags of foreign countries as they disrupt our political process and wage violence against Americans.

Evil men pledging allegiance to our enemies and to a religious system incompatible with America’s freedoms shout to their god as they massacre innocent Americans.

The safety of innocent Americans is at stake as we debate border security and immigration policy. Also at stake is the legacy of the men who sacrificed so much to pioneer the American wilderness and create this great land that immigrants and citizens enjoy today.

We must honor hard-working American families who deserve safety from those who wish to breach our borders, and we should also honor Daniel Boone and those brave pioneers by securing our borders and keeping our enemies at bay."
None of this talk is really about protecting America from extremists. It's about fear. Demagogues will continue to exploit Americans' fear of terrorist attacks by scapegoating immigrants and refugees from the Middle East. Demonizing immigrants and refugees will not make America safer, but it will fan the flames of irrational hatred, the force that produces mass violence in the first place.

News Tidbits

CNN: Sen. David Perdue: Let Obama's 'days be few'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Philadelphia archdiocese singles out legislators who voted for abuse bill  

Al*com: Southern Baptists lost 200,000 members over the past year

NPR: Women's Group Wants Trump To Better Articulate His Pro-Life Stance

Metro Weekly: Former ex-gay leader: Ban conversion therapy for adults, not just minors

Commentary Tidbits

The Atlantic: David Perdue's Prayer for President Obama

Washington Post: Trump promises to protect one group of Americans, to the exclusion of all others

Religion News Service: Conservative Christian women confront their doubts on Trump

Huffington Post: Donald Trump Is Proving How Mortally Dangerous He Is To LGBT Equality

NPR: Clinton, Trump Kick Off General Election With Very Different Pitches To Their Base

Daily Beast: Rapes, Daily Beatings, and No Escape: Christian School Was Hell For These Boys

Right Wing Watch: James Dobson: Trans-Inclusive Bathroom Policies Violate Levitical Prohibition On Prostituting Your Daughter

America Responds to the Orlando Nightclub Shooting

Early this morning, a gunman killed 50 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse (a gay nightclub) in Orlando, Florida. The Associated Press is calling the attack the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The reported gunman, 29 year-old Omar Mateen, was killed by law enforcement after exchanging fire with police and taking hostages, reports USA Today. According to CNN, Mateen was investigated by the FBI on two occasions in the past for possible Islamic extremist sympathies. Pink News reports that Mateen called authorities and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State before his death, and that the Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The homophobic motivations behind the crime seem obvious. Seddique Mateen, the reported gunman's father, insisted that the crime was not religiously motivating, claiming that his son grew angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami, NBC News reports. However, Seddique Mateen has reportedly voiced support for the Taliban in on his TV show and videos, according to the Washington Post, so make of his statements what you will.

President Obama delivered a statement on the Orlando massacre, during which he reflected on the homophobic nature of the attack, the urgent need to rise above hate, and the horrors of gun violence.
"This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends -- our fellow Americans -- who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub -- it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American -- regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation -- is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."

Multiple organizations have condemned the attack as well. Rasha Mubarak, regional coordinator of the Florida branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), condemned the shooting and encouraged fellow Muslims to donate blood in a press release.
"We condemn this monstrous attack and offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured. The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence."
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called the tragedy "horrific" and grieved for the victims.
"This unimaginable atrocity has not only robbed countless people of their loved ones, it has also stolen a sense of safety within the LGBTQ community. As we mourn the victims of this unspeakable attack, we are also reminded that the work to end hate in all its forms must continue."
Other LGBTQ equality groups pointed out that the crime must be understood as a homophobic crime as well as an act of terrorism. In an online statement, Human Rights Campaign reminded readers that while the crime has not yet been labeled a hate crime, LGBTQ people are frequent targets of hate violence. "We are grateful that President Obama has directed the FBI and other federal agencies to support the investigation of this attack and the LGBTQ community during this time," HRC president Chad Griffin said.

Beverly Tillery, executive director of the Anti-Violence Project, urged readers to place the shooting in the larger context of gun violence and bigotry, and to avoid demonizing Muslims for the attack.
"This is an enormous tragedy. A tragedy that belongs to the LGBTQ communities, but a tragedy that belongs to the entire nation as well. With mass shootings occurring all too frequently, we must to begin to talk about the ways LGBTQ people are impacted by gun violence in this country. We must also consider the broader context in which this horrific act of violence has occurred. That this happened while many across the country are celebrating Pride, and against the backdrop of harmful anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping the nation, is something we must not overlook.

In the days ahead we will learn more about this shooting, and a clearer picture of the motivations will emerge. However, individualizing the problem of hate violence is not the answer. Nor is condoning Islamophobia. Now is a time to stand in solidarity and collectively address the homophobia and transphobia in all of our environments, and actively work to challenge and change it if we are to be truly safe and free."
I hope that Americans keep sight of the fact that this shooting was both a hate crime and a terrorist act. We can safely assume that the shooter's actions were inspired by both religious extremism and homophobia. Do we need any further evidence that homophobia and transphobia can have deadly consequences? Do we need any more proof that hatred mingled with religious extremism produces tragedy?

Religious Right Tweets Following the Orlando Massacre

During the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, a gunman opened fire on people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 50 people and wounding 53 others, according to CNN. The reported shooter has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a 29 year-old man from Fort Pierce, Florida. Before exploring the massacre in depth, I'd like to share some tweets from Religious Right figures in the aftermath of the tragedy. Religious Right responses have been both supportive and hateful.

UPDATE: Texas Governor Dan Patrick posted a Tweet earlier today that read, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7." He has since deleted the Tweet amidst backlash, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

News Tidbits

The Tennessean: Lawsuit challenges Tennessee counseling law

Indiana Gazette: Pennsylvania Rep. Saccone promotes bill to display 'In God We Trust'

LGBT Weekly: HRC Alabama blasts disgraced Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over latest stall tactics

Cincinnati*com: Ark Encounter sponsors Indy 500 driver

Associated Press: Mormon church sued by 4th Navajo alleging sexual abuse

Associated Press: Cultural sensitivities obstacle at UN AIDS conference

Commentary Tidbits

Daily Beast: The Christian Right Mastermind Behind Citizens United Says It’s Good for Democracy

Church & State: The Eagle Has Crash Landed

Just One Train Wreck After Another: Idolizing Purity is a Shameful Business

Friendly Atheist: Donald Trump’s “Liaison for Christian Policy” Was on TV Pushing People Down With Jesus Magic

Religion News Service: The Gospel Coalition and how (not) to engage culture

The Advocate: Why the Supreme Court Can’t Save Us From 'Religious Liberty'

Cindy Jacobs Encourages Christian Women to Vote

With the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, one Religious Right figure is urging women to vote. Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals International, launched a campaign called Red Shoe Votes to mobilize Christian women voters, according to Charisma News. Red Shoe Votes encourages to register to vote and wear red shoes to the polls, although it carefully refrains from endorsing any candidate or political party.

Upon inspection, the campaign is infused with dominionist values. Red Shoe Votes seeks to "shift the nation" with women's votes and ensure that different spheres of society will be "standing on the firm foundation of biblical truth." The Red Shoe Votes website claims that, "For too long, we as Christian women have allowed so many other voices to speak for us, including influential women who do not share or respect biblical values."

In the Red Shoe Votes Women's Manifesto, organizers lay out their opposition to abortion and transgender identity, as well as their support for "biblically-based systems of education, healthcare, justice, economics, and government".
"We believe in the sanctity of life—that all individuals have the right to life from the point of conception to death; therefore, no one has the right to take the life of another person through crime, abortion, euthanasia, or assisted suicide.

Additionally, we believe that the quality of life for every individual matters; therefore, we believe in addressing systemic issues like poverty, racism, and human trafficking, as well as advocating for biblically-based systems of education, healthcare, justice, economics, and government.

We believe that God entrusted humanity with the stewardship of the earth; therefore, we believe we have a responsibility to properly care for the environment and wisely use our natural resources.

We believe that God intentionally created human beings as male and female; therefore, the gender identity we are born with is not a mistake and is unchangeable. Additionally, we believe that God created men and women as equals; therefore, we believe in addressing systems, doctrines, and practices that treat women as inferior or less valuable."
The authors describe their attitudes toward seven areas of society -- education, family, government, religion, business, media, and arts and entertainment -- which coincide with the seven "mountains" over which Christians must establish dominion in Seven Mountains theology. For example, with regard to family issues, the manifesto recognizes only heterosexual marriage.
"We believe that marriage between one man and one woman is the biblical foundation of the family. We acknowledge that many families have been fractured; therefore, we seek to extend support and promote wholeness for every parent desiring God’s best for their children."
Regarding government, the manifesto encourages Christians to secure positions of political power.

"We believe that Christians should not shrink back from serving in elected and appointed government offices, as this brings peace and justice to the land."
The manifesto sees Christian proselytization and conversion as a "right", adding that Christians are entitled to share their faith in every social institution. Separation of church and state is not mentioned.

"We believe that Jesus Christ is the one true God, the Creator and owner of the world. Every individual has the right to hear that Jesus is God and needs to personally accept Him as Savior.

We believe it is the role of the church to steward His world and represent His kingdom; therefore, it is the right of all people to have the freedom to share their faith in every institution of society." 
Red Shoe Votes' promotional video condemns racism and features multiple women of color. Given Cindy Jacob's history of racially insensitive comments, I find this highly ironic.

Red Shoe Votes seems to be a means of getting Religious Right-friendly candidates into office. While Red Shoe Votes does not endorse any candidate or party, we can reasonably assume that its supporters will vote for right-wing candidates in gubernatorial, House, and Senate races. Regarding the presidential election, I doubt that its supporters would vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, given their manifesto's stance on issues such as the place of religion in society, abortion, and LGBTQ issues. Clinton and Sanders have both expressed support for church-state separation, LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights, whereas Trump has taken either ambiguous or negative stances on the issues. However, evangelicals remain divided over Trump, so there is no guarantee that Red Shoe Voters will cast votes for him in significant numbers.

As November draws near, we can expect initiatives such as Red Shoe Votes to encourage Religious Right supporters to vote. While we can safely assume that many such voters will cast ballots for right-wing candidates in state and local elections, their behavior in the presidential election remains to be seen. Will they unite behind Trump, or refrain from supporting either presidential candidate?