Religious Right calls priest who condemns homophobia anti-Christ
Jennifer LeClaire, who writes for the conservative Christian magazine Charisma, quotes Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), as saying “Gary Hall of the National Cathedral is sinning when he claims that opposition to homosexuality is a sin. This is counterfeit Christianity in action—transferring the guilt before God from those who are committing sins (of which homosexuality is one) to those who oppose those sins.” LaBarbera calls this an example of a new heretical ‘sin-affirming Christianity’ that poses a danger of spreading within the evangelical Church. Jennifer LeClaire adds that she thinks LaBarbera is “spot-on” and declares she is shocked by the kind of deception the Very Reverend Hall is perpetrating.
Yesterday (Oct. 22), Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (another hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center) added his two cents worth in the FRC’s Washington Watch Daily Commentary. He compared the Very Rev. Hall to one of the “false prophets” from the biblical Book of Jeremiah: “they encourage those who do evil, and as a result, no one turns from doing evil.”
So what did Gary Hall say that has the Religious Right so upset? Here’s a sample:
“We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are. They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.”
“It’s more than tragic—in fact it’s shameful–that faith communities, especially Christian ones, continue to be complicit in putting our children at risk and abetting the attitudes that oppress them, thereby encouraging the aggressors who would subject our children to pain, humiliation, and violence.”
And after same-sex marriages became legal in Washington DC earlier this year, Hall announced that the National Cathedral would begin to perform the wedding ceremonies.
Friday was the fourth day of the government shutdown, and there’s still no sign of an exit. What’s surprising about the ongoing fight is how a small group of members of Congress have managed to bring Washington to a halt. Just months ago, Speaker John Boehner was warning that forcing the government to shut down over Obamacare or anything else was politically hazardous. Yet Boehner remains stuck, his strategy dictated by a small rump of members in the Republican caucus who refuse to budge. On Monday night, as government funding ran out, a group of around 40 hardline conservatives refused to support any resolution to fund the government that didn’t defund Obamacare. Since Monday night, their goals may have become less clear, but their resolve has not weakened. While it’s widely believed that a “clean” resolution would pass the House handily, it would also likely lead to a right-wing rebellion in the caucus that would spell the end of Boehner’s speakership.
So who are those hardliners? To compile this list, we started with a roster that the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group aligned with Ted Cruz, created of representatives who were allied with them. We cross-checked it with the list of members who signed an August letter by Rep. Mark Meadows demanding that Boehner use a shutdown as a threat to defund Obamacare, and against other public statements this week. It’s not a comprehensive roll — there’s no official “wacko bird” caucus that keeps a register — but it’s a window into the small but powerful group of men and women in the House of Representatives who brought the federal government to a standstill.
Quoted: “It is a simple issue of fairness: Members of Congress, their staff, and the political elite should not be given special relief from the harmful effects of Obamacare while the rest of America is left holding the bag.”
Quoted: “I am deeply disappointed that President Obama and the Senate refused to come to the negotiation table and failed to fund the federal government.”
Representative: Phil Gingrey
Home District: Marietta, Georgia
Quoted: “A majority of Americans think Obamacare will make health care in our country worse, and they’re right. House Republicans are listening to the American people, and I urge Harry Reid and Senate Democrats to do the same.”
Quoted: “House GOP is united around a very reasonable policy: POTUS should give families the same Obamacare delay he gave to businesses.”
Representative: Vicky Hartzler
Home District: Harrisonville, Missouri
Quoted: “The American people have spoken already on this: They do not want Obamacare …. It is hurting people.”
Representative: Tim Huelskamp
Home District: Fowler, Kansas
Quoted: “Most Americans realize the government shutdown has no impact on their daily life. They got their mail today; they’re going to get their Social Security check.”
Representative: Jim Jordan
Home District: Urbana, Ohio
Quoted: “We have to get something on Obamacare, because that — if you want to get this country on a fiscal path to balance, you cannot let an entitlement of this size that will truly bankrupt the country and, more importantly, one that’s not going to help Americans with their health care, you can’t let this happen. ”
Representative: Steve King
Home District: Kiron, Iowa
Quoted: “The American people have rejected Obamacare. The president is willing to put all of that on the line to save his namesake legislation, which I think would go down in history as the largest political tantrum ever.”
Representative: Raul Labrador
Home District: Eagle, Idaho
Quoted: To Chris Matthews of MSNBC: “You know, your boss, Tip O’Neill, shut down the government 12 different times. And you didn’t call him a terrorist.”
Quoted: In response to Harry Reid calling Tea Partiers “anarchists”: “When the other guy starts calling you names, you know that you’re winning the debate, and you know that he knows you’re winning the debate.”
Representative: Mark Meadows
Home District: Cashier, North Carolina
Quoted: “James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 58 that ‘the power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon . . . for obtaining redress of every grievance.’”
Representative: Randy Neugebauer
Home District: Lubbock, Texas
Quoted: “We get tons of mail and E-mails and phone calls. And overwhelmingly, those phone calls say, ‘Congressman, do everything you can to get rid of this very onerous piece of legislation. We don’t want the government running our health care.’ And so, from my perspective, we’re doing the people’s work here.”
Representative: Matt Salmon
Home District: Mesa, Arizona
Quoted: “I was here during the government shutdown in 1995. It was a divided government. we had a Democrat president of the United States. We had a Republican Congress. And I believe that that government shutdown actually gave us the impetus, as we went forward, to push toward some real serious compromise.”
Representative: Mark Sanford
Home District: Charleston, South Carolina
Quoted: “Our society has been held together for over 200 years in no small part due to the belief that our system was fair or equitable, yet the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been anything but that.”
Quoted: “I know it’s not comfortable for a lot of people here, but this is how it’s supposed to work. It’s supposed to be cantankerous. It’s supposed to be this constant grinding.” *
* A previous version of this story quoted Schweikert saying that the shutdown “is my kind of fun.” That statement was taken out of context. The congressman was referring to an interview with NPR, not with the government shutdown. We regret the error.
Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press/Jessica Hill, File – FILE – In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia says his method of interpreting the …more Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve. Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) less
WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Antonin Scalia says his method of interpreting the Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve.
Scalia calls himself a “textualist” and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.
So Scalia parts company with former colleagues who have come to believe capital punishment is unconstitutional. The framers of the Constitution didn’t think so and neither does he.
“The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion. Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state,” Scalia said at the American Enterprise Institute.
He contrasted his style of interpretation with that of a colleague who tries to be true to the values of the Constitution as he applies them to a changing world. This imaginary justice goes home for dinner and tells his wife what a wonderful day he had, Scalia said.
This imaginary justice, Scalia continued, announces that it turns out “‘the Constitution means exactly what I think it ought to mean.’ No kidding.”
As he has said many times before, the justice said the people should turn to their elected lawmakers, not judges, to advocate for abortion rights or an end to the death penalty. Or they should try to change the Constitution, although Scalia said the Constitution makes changing it too hard by requiring 38 states to ratify an amendment for it to take effect.
“It is very difficult to adopt a constitutional amendment,” Scalia said. He once calculated that less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, residing in the 13 least populous states, could stop an amendment, he said.
In a lengthy question-and-answer session, Scalia once again emphatically denied there’s a rift among the court’s conservative justices following Chief Justice John Roberts‘ vote to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law. Scalia dissented from Roberts’ opinion.
“Look it, do not believe anything you read about the internal workings of the Supreme Court,” he said. “It is either a lie because the press knows we won’t respond — they can say whatever they like and we won’t respond — or else it’s based on information from someone who has violated his oath of confidentiality, that is to say, a non-reliable source. So one way or another it is not worthy of belief.”
“We can disagree with one another on the law without taking it personally,” he said.
The issue of gay rights, or more specifically same-sex marriage, is expected to be a big one in the term that began this week. While the justices initially were scheduled to discuss the topic at their private conference in late September, it now appears likely that they will not make a decision about whether to take up a gay marriage case until after the presidential election, which would mean arguments would not take place until the spring.
The justices have a variety of pending appeals they could choose to hear that deal in one way or another with gay marriage.
One set of cases looks at whether same-sex couples who are legally married can be deprived of a range of federal benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. Another case deals with California’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and federal court rulings striking down the amendment. An Arizona case deals with a state law that revoked domestic partner benefits, making them available only to married couples. Arizona’s constitution bans gay marriage.
The November report, “Lobbying for the Faithful: Religious Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C.,” surveyed more than 200 groups that engage in advocacy and/or lobbying in the nation’s capital. It found explosive growth in such groups, noting that the number of these organizations jumped from 67 in 1970 to 212 today.
Furthermore, the groups raise and spend significant sums of money. One of the largest religious advocacy organizations in Washington, for example, is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has an annual budget of $26.6 million.
Other top spenders include the Family Research Council ($14.2 million), Concerned Women for America ($12.5 million), the National Right to Life Committee ($11.3 million) and Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink ($10.8 million).
Collectively, the 212 groups surveyed raise and spend $390 million a year.
Of the top 15 groups listed, 10 are Religious Right organizations or take stands in alignment with the Catholic hierarchy. Groups that failed to make the top 15 but that still have considerable budgets include the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission ($3.2 million), the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty ($2.2 million) and the Eagle Forum ($2.2 million).
While many of the groups listed are Christian, the report shows growth in the number of advocacy organizations affiliated with other religions. The biggest group on the list is the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, which has an annual budget of $87.8 million. The American Jewish Committee is fourth on the list at $13.3 million.
Other groups include the Muslim American Society ($3.9 million), the Muslim Public Affairs Council ($2.9 million) as well as groups representing Sikhs and Hindus.
The reports lists total budget figures for the groups surveyed. Not all of that money is spent on direct lobbying because the organizations advocate for their views in other ways. Still, the report is a good indication that the power of religious lobbies is in no way waning.
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, told The Washington Post that the growth of religious lobbying groups has been nothing short of remarkable.
“Religious lobbyists used to be like subsistence farmers, and now it’s like agribusiness,” said Lynn.
In an article for the popular progressive website Alternet, Church & State Assistant Editor Rob Boston noted that Religious Right organizations can hardly claim to have no influence when so many of D.C.’s top religious lobbyists are in their camp.
“Right-wing religious groups may claim persecution, but the numbers tell a different story,” wrote Boston. “If you doubt this, just spend a day shadowing their employees in Congress, where, increasingly, they are greeted with warm smiles and open arms.”
In a super-neato sting operation today, the FBI totally intercepted a Muslim Terrorist wearing a suicide bomb vest en route to the Capitol, to blow it up. Sucker! Caught you! Go eat an Abortionplex-sized bag of dicks, guy! (But really, thank you for taking all of the pretend bombs our agents gave you and going with them on field trips to test explosives and all the other things we tricked you into doing so we could arrest you.)
The FBI is masterful when it comes to thwarting their own baroque terrorist plots in dramatic fashion at the very last minute, just as their scripts instruct them to do. The Feds found today’s lucky arrestee, a 29-year-old Moroccan, about a year ago and thought, Sure, this one looks Muslim enough to me, he’ll do… now let’s start brainstorming a plot and getting him all the fake bombs and training and support he needs so we can arrest him in a year.
(WASHINGTON) — A 29-year-old Moroccan man was arrested Friday near the U.S. Capitol as he was planning to detonate what he thought was a suicide vest, given to him by FBI undercover operatives, said police and government officials. Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Va., was taken into custody with an inoperable gun and inert explosives, according to a counterterrorism official.
El Khalifi expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times, the counterterrorism official said. During the investigation, the official said, El Khalifi went with undercover operatives to a quarry in the Washington area to detonate explosives.
El Khalifi came to the U.S. when he was 16 years old and is unemployed and not believed to be associated with al-Qaeda. He had been under investigation for about a year and had overstayed his visitor visa for years, according to the counterterrorism official and a government official briefed on the matter who spoke on a condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Two people briefed on the matter told The Associated Press he was not arrested on the Capitol grounds, and the FBI has had him under surveillance around the clock for several weeks.
“He was suspicious,” said Dynda. “He was getting mysterious packages labeled “book,” but I didn’t think there were books in them.”
Savvy eye, Dynda. There weren’t any books in there. Those packages were filled with all of the cool terrorist presents that the FBI kept sending him.
All in all, another magnificent production — four stars. Will this be the year that the FBI *finally* wins that Best Director statuette it’s coveted for so long? Ugh, let’s not get into studio politics…