Pro-family groups are dismissing warnings that a campaign they're launching this week could result in churches losing their tax-exempt status.
The conservative groups and their supporters will gather in Washington, DC, this week for what they are calling the "2006 Values Voter Summit." Among those slated to speak are pro-family leaders Dr. James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Rev. Don Wildmon, and Tony Perkins -- and national leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. The stated objective of the three-day event (September 22-24) is to "educate and equip Values Voters on today's family issues."
But Barry Lynn's group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claims efforts by these conservative leaders to enlist clergy and their flocks in this year's election campaign could violate government rules for non-profit organizations. Lynn believes the upcoming conference may be used to recruit churches for a campaign to keep Republicans in control of Congress -- and he wants churches to know that endorsing or supporting political candidates could cost them their tax-exempt status. But organizers of the Values Voter Summit deny they will be asking churches to do that.
Really? Let's go over that list again -- 'Dr. James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Rev. Don Wildmon, and Tony Perkins... Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.' Republicans all. Even the White House is represented by Press Secretary Tony Snow.
And I thought this was pretty funny:
But Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, who clarifies that no churches will be asked to endorse candidates, says he will not be intimidated by Barry Lynn's threats. And churches, he adds, will not be frightened into silence on political issues. "Barry Lynn's a playground bully," says Minnery during an AP interview. "He would like to clear the playground of everybody except those who believe as he does. And we, of course, would never want churches to risk their tax-exempt status."
Pot, have you met kettle?
To give us an idea what's happening at the summit, let's check out People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch. In a post titled, Values Voter Summit: Anti-Gay Activists Warn of Repression of Religion, the first paragraph sets the tone:
On the first day of the Values Voter Summit, speakers discussed embryonic stem-cell research (Sen. Brownback: "If you research and you kill a human at that stage [embryo], that human doesn't have a rest of a life"), abortion (Bishop Wellington Boone: African Americans are an "endangered species" because of "black genocide" through abortion), and the war on terror (James Dobson, ever conscious of upcoming elections: "I really see that as a family issue"). But by far the greatest emphasis was placed on the supposed dangers of the "homosexual agenda."
I can't help myself -- I have to shoot these down. Brownback's full of crap, first. Embryos have a shelf life. The embryos used in stem cell research are about to be discarded. Not only won't they be implanted in the woman they were frozen for, but they'll never be implanted in anyone -- they're too old.
Wellington Boone is either insane, lying, or uninformed -- I'll go out on a limb and say it's two of the three and he's not uninformed. The US Census shows that blacks are enjoying a population growth of 15.6%, while the total growth of the US population was 13.2% for the same period. If someone's trying to commit a genocide here, they really suck at it.
And Dobson? I'd love to dispute the idea that the 'war on terror' is a 'family issue', but I can't figure out what the hell that even means. I had the same problem with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Virginia Sen. George 'Macaca' Allen telling the crowd that "that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is a 'foundational value' upon which America is built." WTF is a 'foundational value'? Something vague enough to mean whatever the hell you want it to.
These people are just pulling stuff out of their butt. Jennifer Giroux of Citizens for Community Values told her audience, "The ultimate child abuse is placing a child in a gay home." But, then again, she also told Joe Scarborough that US society turning away from God and taking Christ out of Christmas was responsible for the tsunami that hit Indonesia.
So she's freakin' nuts. Either that or God has really lousy aim.
Tony Snow's contribution was basically to not stop talking about 9/11:
Snow's remarks made it clear that he's an honors graduate of Bush Administration Messaging school. His remarks on defending the family started and ended with repeated references to the 9-11 terror attacks. And he repeatedly used the word "heart." Along the way he reminded participants of Bush's support for the anti-gay "Marriage Protection Amendment." Oh, and 9-11. And the "miracle" of Bush's appearance on the debris pile. Just in case you forgot.
Look, these people are all crazy. And I don't mean a fun kind of crazy, I mean a 'stab your neighbor to death with a wooden stake because you think she's a vampire' kind of crazy.
And is this a religious meeting or a political one? I think the answer's already clear, but in case you're unconvinced, Public Eye reports:
Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) quoted scholar David Landes on the centrality of culture. According to Romney, every child has a right to have a mother and father. Liberals, he said, support democracy only when they think that the outcome is a foregone conclusion that favors their views. Romney urged support for the Federal Marriage Amendment.
I think the warm reception for Romney is significant. The man next to me leaned over and said: “That’s our next President.”
Dr. James Dobson told the audience that he was not satisfied with the Republicans progress on family values issues, but that it was important to be politically active. It was clear to the audience that Dobson meant they should go to the polls and vote for candidates that support their issues—who are not likely to include many Democrats.
Back to the Agape article, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins -- who's hosting the event -- says, "There are now thousands of pastors all across the country who understand not only do they have a right to participate in our process of government, but as Christian leaders they have a responsibility to speak to the important issues of our day -- and that's exactly what they're doing."
And as for [Barry] Lynn's observation that the Washington conference is a partisan event where only Republicans will be allowed to speak? Perkins says he cannot help it if only Republicans support the issues that conservative Christians care about. He offers an open invitation, saying "if there's a Democratic candidate who marches to an independent drum beat and will stand on these issues, we'd love to have them."
Don't you love a rightwing robot talking about marching to 'an independent drum beat'?
Technorati tags: politics; religious right; christian; conservative; gay; abortion; same sex marriage; James Dobson; Tony Perkins, George Allen and Mitt Romney get together for a celebration of hate, bigotry, and bullshit