1. Obama's Support for LGBT Rights Drives Religious Right Crazy.
Barack Obama doesn't support gay marriage, but his transition Web site lists a panoply of other LGBT rights he will push for when he takes office in January. His laundry list includes expanding federal hate-crimes legislation to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups categories under federal anti-discrimination in employment laws. Obama also backs civil unions and full federal rights for LGBT couples, as well as repealing two Clinton-era measures, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provides that no state or the federal government can be forced to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state, and the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Both the expanded hate-crimes legislation (a.k.a. the Matthew Shepard bill) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act failed in the last Congress, combated by the religious right with the fatuous but increasingly common claim that rights for LGBT people necessarily mean depriving Christians of their religious freedom.
The American Family Association iscomplaining that Obama is "keeping his promises to the homosexual lobby." Mat Staver, head of the Liberty Counsel, the religious-right legal group formed by the late Jerry Falwell, told the Baptist Press that Obama is "the biggest threat to religious liberty we've ever had [in the White House] because he will push the homosexual agenda. ... I think churches and pastors will be very negatively affected by Obama's policies." Happily ever after for someone else's persecution, apparently.
2. Latino Evangelicals Mobilize Against Marriage Equality.
Even outside the core of the religious right, religious activists are already mobilizing to take on Obama on his plan to repeal DOMA. The Alliance for Marriage (AFM), an interfaith group opposed to gay marriage and a minor player in the California drive to ban gay marriage, has launched a new Web site, Protect DOMA, featuring religious-right cinematic heartthrob Eduardo Verastegui, who endorsed McCain in the presidential election and narrated an anti-Obama smear video, which featured graphic footage of abortion procedures and piled on misrepresentations about Obama's position on abortion.
AFM prides itself on representing African American, Latino, and Asian American religious constituencies. Its co-founder, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), says he supports civil unions, although neither AFM nor the leadership conference have positions on civil unions. But Rodriguez insists marriage is nonnegotiable, and he claims that Obama's support from Latino evangelicals will evaporate if DOMA is repealed. "If [Obama] makes a sharp left here, it will be difficult for him to get as many votes from the Hispanic community. ? We will be strong and forceful to let the Latino community know that a person who promised to govern from the center is dividing us on wedge issues."
But what of the Republicans? They still "don't get it" on immigration, Rodriguez said. If the GOP "ever wants to win again, they will have to win Latinos," he said, adding that he considers Michael Steele, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee the best prospects for the party's future.
3. Religious-Right Figure Promotes Anti-Immigrant PAC in Georgia Senate Runoff.
Speaking of not getting it on immigration, The National Republican Trust political action committee (NRT), formed in the last few weeks of the presidential campaign by operatives who have made careers of peddling false scandals about Democrats, was active in Georgia on behalf of Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss in his successful run-off against Democrat Jim Martin, which concluded yesterday. During the presidential campaign, NRT ran anti-Obama ads with Jeremiah Wright footage as well as several other ads that falsely stated that Obama wanted to give terrorists and illegal immigrants driver?s licenses and Social Security benefits.
Evangelical publisher Stephen Strang highlighted an NRT fundraising plea in his blog and urged his readers to contribute to its efforts.
Spending over $1 million on the Georgia race, NRT ramped up similar rhetoric in its advertising, including a robocall narrated by Michael Reagan warning that "if a Democrat wins, Barack Obama will have complete control over the U.S. Senate and will put through a liberal agenda including massive tax increases, citizenship for illegal aliens, new gun control, and pro-abortion laws." A television ad reprised NRT's presidential campaign ads, claiming (incorrectly, if Norm Coleman wins the recount vote in Minnesota) that Obama is "just one Senate vote away from total control" and claiming, falsely, that he'll grant "12 million illegal aliens citizenship, Social Security, even driver's licenses."
Former Gov. Jeb Bushof Florida, in an interview with Newsmax, which has relentlessly promoted NRT, warned Republicans of anti-immigrant rhetoric: "I think we need to change the tone of the conversation as it relates to immigration. ? I mean, it just drives me nuts when there are substantive policy differences that we can show mutual respect on, but the tone needs to change."
4. Palin's Recruiters Plot 2012 Run.
A recent Gallup poll showed that 67 percent of Republicans want Palin to run for president in 2012, with Romney (62 percent) and Huckabee (61 percent) her closest competitors.
Among the Palin faithful is Stephen Maloney, a Pennsylvania-based activist who says he's devoting himself to recruiting Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012 through his new blog, where he writes that "a key for Gov. Palin in getting elected in 2012 is to increase her appeal to moderate and independent voters. Bloggers can help her do [this] by emphasizing ? her moderation and her independence. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is." It is? Maloney doesn't tell us how.
Maloney joins Team Sarah, a coalition of 60,000 women launched by the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List, an early booster of Palin's vice-presidential run, and the Read My Lipstick network and its affiliated bloggers.
But first that regular ol' Hockey Mom will get a multimillion-dollar book deal.
5. Huckabee's Book Tour Spotlight: Greed and Sin.
The best way to see Mike Huckabee is in preacher mode, talking about how he believes government can best be reformed. It's easy, really: Everyone should find Jesus.
During the tour for his new book Do the Right Thing, Huckabee made an appearance on Praise the Lord, the long-running interview and variety program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest religious broadcaster in the world and home to the biggest prosperity-gospel preachers, including Huckabee's friend and Senate Finance Committee investigation target Kenneth Copeland. The program was hosted by Jesse Duplantis, a Copeland protégé who asked Huckabee a "hard question": Why do people do the wrong things? Without missing a beat, Huckabee replied, "Sin." He then added that we wouldn't "need any other laws, if we all lived by Jesus."
By way of example, Huckabee pointed to the Wall Street meltdown, which he said was the result of a moral crisis, not an economic one. Well, that's true, of course, but Huckabee is, as he repeatedly states in the book, an advocate of less regulation, not more. So greed might have started the whole mess, but the big bad government could have done something to rein it in.
Last year, when he was campaigning for president, Huckabee made a week-long appearance on Copeland's program and filled the airwaves with pabulum about character. Huckabee has never once addressed how Copeland's fundraising from his prosperity theology has enabled him to live in a sprawling mansion and own a fleet of private jets, including one that cost $20 million. If Jesus gets you rich, it must be OK.
Contact me at tapthefundamentalist at gmail dot com.
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