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Family Research Council Finally Scrubs Nazi Reference From Sermon Used To Fight Marriage Equality

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Opponents of marriage equality in Minnesota recently came under fire for comparing the campaign tactics of gay-rights supporters to the tactics of Germany’s Nazi Party in the lead-up to the extermination of approximately 6 million Jews and thousands of gay people and others during World War II. This is the second time in six months that such a comparison has been drawn during this campaign.

The Nazi link was embedded in a sample sermon distributed by the Family Research Council, an influential religious-right advocacy group based in Washington, D.C, which has been sending the sermon to pastors since 2006. The text has been used in battles over same-sex marriage in a half-dozen states. However, following outrage from Minnesota’s Jewish community, the group quietly stripped the Nazi reference from the sermon.

In an invitation on its website to attend an anti-gay-marriage event called “Stand for Marriage Sunday” earlier this month, a group called Minnesota Pastors for Marriage included the aforementioned sample sermon, which accused same-sex marriage proponents of using Nazi-like tactics. Minnesota Pastors for Marriage, which is fighting a proposed state bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, is funded by the Minnesota Family Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group affiliated with the Family Research Council.

The document titled, “Minnesota Stand For Marriage Sermon Starter,” reads, in part (emphasis added):

Homosexuals claim: “We were born this way; it is in our genes; God made us gay.” They cite old “gay gene” studies predominantly conducted by researchers who are homosexuals; studies that have been repudiated by credible research. Yet these same biased and discredited studies have been widely publicized by the liberal media as true and factual. They essentially practice Joseph Goebel’s [sic] Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it.

But shortly after news broke in Minnesota late last month that gay-rights and Jewish groups had condemned the group’s sermon, the Family Research Council edited the sermon to take out the offending section. The above passage was captured by ThinkProgress, which broke the story.

However, the Family Research Council missed a few versions of the unedited sermon including on the group’s affiliated “Watchmen on the Wall” website.

This sermon was included in a message from John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council and chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, and Kenyn Cureton, vice president of church ministries at the Family Research Council. Cureton authored the sermon starter.

The Family Research Council is a socially conservative organization co-founded by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson in 1983. The group has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, because Family Research Council leaders have repeatedly attempted to link homosexuality with pedophilia.

“Same-sex ‘marriages’ could be performed in Minnesota as early as August 1, 2013,” Helmberger and Cureton wrote. “That’s why we are asking you to consider ‘Stand For Marriage Sunday,’ to convey a sense of urgency to your members to call both their state legislators ASAP and ask them to vote ‘No’ on Senate File 925 and House File1054. To help you with this, we have created “Stand For Marriage” materials. To view these materials, click on Sermon Starter, Stand For Marriage and Bulletin Insert.”

Stand for Marriage

The Stand for Marriage sample sermon appears to have been first published in SBC LIFE, the journal of the Southern Baptist Convention, in 2006, when Cureton, the sermon’s author, was vice president for convention relations for the Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Baptist denomination.

By late 2006, Cureton had joined the Family Research Council as vice president for church ministries. According to his biography, the Stand for Marriage kit containing the sermon has been sent to more than 20,000 churches, “notably in California, Arizona, Florida, Maine, and North Carolina in support of their successful efforts to uphold traditional marriage.”

A version sent to pastors often contained a warning about its content.

“Pastoral Warning: I have preached messages like this many times and it never fails to offend somebody,” Cureton wrote. “In fact, I’ve had people walk out on me during the sermon, and others leave my church membership.”

He added: “There is no substitute for the pastor’s leadership from the pulpit, preaching the word of God without fear or favor, and applying it to burning issues such as abortion, the radical homosexual agenda, judicial tyranny, pornography, racism, gambling, etc. Remember, God’s word offends people. Don’t preach it if you can’t handle the consequences.”

Versions of Cureton’s sermon have been used in many of the state-based battles over same-sex marriage. His sermon was distributed to pastors in California during the battle over Proposition 8, which ended marriage rights for same-sex couples in that state.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for Northern California in the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, Cureton’s sermon was heavily edited for use in California, but the Nazi references remained.

West Virginia for Marriage, a project of West Virginia Family Policy Council, offered the sermon to pastors for the Stand for Marriage Sunday in 2009, when social conservatives were pressing for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in that state.

In New York state, a version of the sermon – without the Nazi reference – was used in opposition to a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in 2011.

The sermon was distributed to pastors last year in North Carolina, where voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Cornerstone Conference Ministry Center still has the sermon available on its website, complete with Nazi references.

The Family Research Council also urged pastors to use the sermon just before the 2012 elections in Maryland, Washington, and Maine, where voters ended up approving marriage equality.

Cureton told The American Independent via email that the offending reference will remain deleted from future sermons. He declined to comment further.

Minnesota’s Jewish community responds

After ThinkProgress reported on the document on March 28, Minnesotans United for All Families, the primary lobbying force in support of the marriage-equality bill, quickly responded, calling the tactics “disgusting.”

“This just clearly shows that the folks at Minnesota for Marriage have no interest in a civil dialogue. They have no interest in an honest conversation about marriage,” Minnesotans United for All Families spokesman Jake Loesch told Minnesota Public Radio. “Making claims that anyone in any way is comparable to Nazi tactics is disgusting. It’s appalling and has no place in public square or in public discussion about what marriage is.”

But this was not the first time that gay-marriage opponents in Minnesota have likened the other side to Nazis.

Pastor Brad Brandon last year served as the director of church outreach for Minnesota for Marriage, when it was campaigning for a failed amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and toured the state with a PowerPoint presentation that included Nazi references.

“What I’m simply saying is that Adolf Hitler took away two fundamental rights from a group of people in order to suppress them,” Brandon, said according to audience recordings provided to local media outlets. “Those two fundamental rights are the same rights that are being taken away from the Christian community,” he added, alluding to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Brandon and Minnesota for Marriage later issued a statement saying that his words were taken out of context and being used by opponents to make the campaign “seem to be extreme.”

And following the more recent Nazi reference, Minnesota for Marriage again accused opponents of using it as a distraction.

“The reality is that there are many, many people of faith who believe based on teachings from the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and other religious texts that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Minnesota for Marriage spokeswoman Autumn Leva told the StarTribune, “This attempt to discredit Minnesota for Marriage is really a looking glass that allows Minnesotans to see that those attempting to force gay marriage on this state do not, in fact, care about people’s deeply held beliefs.”

That statement appeared to inflame tensions further, and leaders in Minnesota’s Jewish community pulled together a press conference on March 29.

Jewish Community Action released a statement saying that it “believes that to continually make analogous the tactics used to spread a message of hate and drive the near destruction of a people to a campaign which at its core is about love, commitment, and family, is ridiculous. To do it during Passover, a holiday that commemorates freedom from oppression, is shameful.”

Karen Yashar of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation told reporters: “This vile and repugnant comparison has no room in even the most heated and contentious political debates. The introduction of Nazi labels and comparisons into the American political debate sends a collective chill up the spine of the Jewish community… We call on Minnesota for Marriage to withdraw their statements, and once and for all refrain from using the Nazis or the Holocaust to make their case.”

“We are troubled by the fact that this is the second time in less than six months that Minnesota for Marriage has made reckless and historically inaccurate comparisons between Nazi Germany, and the tactics which it employed, and the proponents of marriage equality,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), in a statement. “As we have in the past, the JCRC strongly urges advocates on all sides of deeply controversial issues to refrain from making Nazi comparisons. Such analogies are almost always inappropriate and are offensive to not only the Jewish community, but also the many gay people who were targeted and murdered by the Nazi regime.”

Shortly after the press conference, Minnesota for Marriage eventually apologized but without taking responsibility for the Nazi reference.

“Minnesota for Marriage regrets that statements considered by many to be offensive appeared on the website of a separate organization, Minnesota Pastors for Marriage,” the group said in a statement. “Although Minnesota for Marriage is not responsible for the content of that website, nor the content on the websites of other supportive coalition members, we nevertheless regret any hurt those statements have caused.”

The Minnesota Family Council followed suit, releasing a statement claiming ownership for the documents.

“Minnesota Family Council is responsible for the content of the Minnesota Pastors for Marriage website. We regret that a sermon and other materials received from another organization and posted to the Minnesota Pastors for Marriage website were not properly reviewed.”

The document in question may have been on the website for at least nine months. Bloggers had posted about it as early as June 2012.

The group said the documents had been removed from the website. Attached to the apology was a statement written by Pastor Jeff Evans of Minnesota Pastors for Marriage, which appeared to contradict the apology.

“This attack by Minnesotans United on marriage has very little to do with an ill-advised quotation but rather the continued assault on the religious liberties of pastors to proclaim the full counsel of God about marriage in their pulpits,” Evans said of Minnesota Pastors for Marriage. “Pastors need not apologize about passages in the Bible that some find offensive. On the contrary, pastors answer to their heavenly Father as to whether they speak and teach His Word to a world that needs to hear His good news.”

According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin’s editorial board, that apology may not be enough.

“The good news is Minnesota for Marriage and The Minnesota Family Council have been trying to distance themselves from the Nazi reference, saying that these materials ‘weren’t properly reviewed’ and stating the use of the Minnesota for Marriage logo on some of these documents was ‘unauthorized,’” the staff wrote. “But after-the-fact apologies won’t undo all of the damage that’s been done to these organizations’ credibility.”

 

This article originally appeared at The American Independent and is republished here by permission, and with deep gratitude.

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News

‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

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“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

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She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

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Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

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As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

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Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

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In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.

“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”

Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.

“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”

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“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”

In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.

Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”

The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”

“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”

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Significantly, antisemite Kanye West‘s restored Twitter account was suspended Thursday night, hours after – but not because – the far right rapper told Alex Jones of his support for Adolf Hitler.

“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.” 

Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.

The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”

“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.

Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.

Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”

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As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.

“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”

For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.

 

Image by The Royal Society/Debbie Rowe, Photographer via Wikimedia and a CC license

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