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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

Chief Justice Refuses to Meet With Senate Judiciary Chairman Over Alito Scandal

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Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over a court Democrats and government watchdogs say is riddled with corruption and ethics scandals, on Thursday once again refused to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and a Democratic Senator who for more than a decade has been working to reform the nation’s highest court.

Last week, after bombshell reports revealed Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush-43 appointee, had two insurrection-linked flags flying at two of his homes, Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent the chief justice a letter requesting a meeting to discuss their call for Justice Alito to recuse from cases involving the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the 2020 election, and any cases involving Donald Trump. They also asked to meet to discuss the ongoing ethics scandals plaguing the Roberts Court, and the need for congressionally-mandated reforms.

“By displaying the upside-down and ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flags outside his homes, Justice Alito actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” the two Senate Democrats wrote. “He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required.”

“Until the Court and the Judicial Conference take meaningful action to address this ongoing ethical crisis,” they warned, “we will continue our efforts to enact legislation to resolve this crisis.”

READ MORE: ‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

The Chief Justice cited the Court’s recently adopted code of ethics which some say merely codified existing behaviors without doing much to hold the Justices to the same standard every other judge who sits on the federal bench is required to observe.

“Members of the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the practice we have followed for 235 years pursuant to which individual Justices decide recusal issues,” Chief Justice Roberts said in his letter to Durbin and Whitehouse.

Roberts insisted he was obligated to refuse to meet.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting. As noted in my letter to Chairman Durbin last April, apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation’s history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present. Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances.”

“Moreover,” he added, “the format proposed – a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the Court – simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.”

The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal, pointing to the Roberts letter, remarked: “John Roberts, again, has already spoken about Alito’s ethical failures. And Roberts is IN FAVOR of the corruption, not against it.”

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

Image via Shutterstock

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News

‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest move in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Espionage Act prosecution of Donald Trump appears to have at least one legal expert throwing up his hands in disbelief.

Back in February, Trump’s legal team claimed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment was unlawful, as is the method of funding his office and his investigations.

“Neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,'” Trump’s attorneys wrote, CBS News had reported, “arguing the attorney general did not have the proper authority to name Smith to the job.”

“The authority he attempts to employ as Special Counsel far exceeds the power exercisable by a non-superior officer, the authority that Congress has not cloaked him with,” they claimed. There are decades of precedence of Attorneys General appointing special counsels, special prosecutors, or independent counsels – possibly the most well-known being Ken Starr who investigated then-President Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

CBS News also noted that “Garland cited numerous laws and regulations that he and other attorneys general have said confer necessary authority onto the selected prosecutors.”

Issuing her latest edict, Judge Cannon, who likely has already delayed the trial until after the 2024 election, responded to the Trump legal team’s challenge of Smith’s appointment on Thursday.

“Judge Cannon is giving Trump’s legal team and the government 12 days to tell her how the SCOTUS decision upholding the CFPB’s funding/appointment impacts Trump’s claim that Jack Smith was unlawfully appointed and funded…,” reports Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, who covers the Justice Dept.

The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled the methods by which it is funded are constitutional, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, mocking Judge Cannon’s order, wrote:

“Jack Smith,

You have 12 days to tell me how what Martha-Ann Alito ate for lunch on May 30, 2024 affects your appointment as special counsel.

Xoxo,

Judge Cannon”

He added, “We’re approaching this level of stupid,” and concluded, “Judge Cannon is incompetently bad.”

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OPINION

Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

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Even before his insurrectionist flags scandal, Justice Samuel Alito was already facing ethics questions over his refusal to recuse in other cases, his association with a billionaire businessman, and his non-disclosure of luxury travel gifts. After weeks of damning reports about flags associated with the January 6, 2021 insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy flying over not one but two of his homes, the Bush 43-appointed jurist in an indignant letter to Senate Democrats on Wednesday again refused to recuse, this time from any cases involving the attack on the nation’s capitol, or from cases involving the instigator of those assaults on the seat of government and American democracy itself, Donald Trump.

Justice Alito’s defense in his letter boils down to this sentence: “My wife is fond of flying flags.”

In his letter, Alito wrote for the first insurrectionist flag, an inverted American flag carried by some of the criminals who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, flown over the Alito’s Virginia home just days later, he was not just unaware, he suggested he was legally unable to take it down because he co-owns the house with his wife, and she flew the flag.

RELATED: ‘Liar’: Critics Question Alito’s Integrity After His Insurrection Flag Story Disintegrates

On the second insurrectionist flag, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, associated not only with the insurrection but with Christian nationalists and dominionists, the Supreme Court justice also defers to his spouse, because the New Jersey house it was flying over, he wrote, was purchased with his wife’s inheritance.

Alito does not end his defense there.

After explaining some of the reasons his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, chose to fly the flags, he continues his defense, writing: “I am confident that a reasonable person who is not motivated by political or ideological considerations or a desire to affect the outcome of Supreme Court cases would conclude that the events recounted above do not meet the applicable standard for recusal.”

On Thursday, journalist Chris Geidner, who writes about legal issues, declared, “Sam Alito believes you — and, perhaps, his colleagues — are stupid.”

“Alito lashed out in defiance,” Geidner wrote, detailing nine “demeaning quotes” from Alito’s letter.

But there’s another issue at play.

Justice Alito’s own opinion from a 2022 Supreme Court case, resurfaced Wednesday night by a social media user (below).

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

In 2019, as NCRM reported, Liberty Counsel, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, sued the City of Boston on behalf of its client to allow a different Christian flag to be flown at City Hall. Its client was Hal Shurtleff, the director and co-founder of Camp Constitution, a group that claims its mission is to “enhance understanding of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage,” and “the genius of our United States Constitution.”

It also says its mission is to “expose some of the abuses and perversions that have brought our nation and economy so far down.”

The case made it to the Supreme Court, and in 2022, Shurtleff won. In his concurring opinion, Justice Alito had a different take on what a reasonable person would think when seeing a flag being flown.

“As the Court rightly notes, ‘[a] passerby on Cambridge Street’ confronted with a flag flanked by government flags standing just outside the entrance of Boston’s seat of government would likely conclude that all of those flags ‘conve[y] some message on the government’s behalf.’ ”

He also noted, “The government can always disavow any messages that might be mistakenly attributed to it.”

According to Alito’s letter, no “reasonable person” who saw those two flags flying at his two homes would associate them, and the Alitos, with the insurrection, or Christian dominionism, and thus here is no need for his recusal.

In his 2022 opinion, a “passerby” would conclude the owner of the flagpole was conveying a message, but the flagpole owner could “disavow” those messages.

As Geidner notes, “Alito believes you — and, perhaps, his colleagues — are stupid.”

Clearly, many Americans, and certainly top Democrats including the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a top advocate of court reform, have equated the flying of those flags to indicate Alito’s support for the insurrection, or at least the appearance of it.

“By displaying the upside-down and ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flags outside his homes, Justice Alito actively engaged in political activity, failed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary,” Durbin and Whitehouse wrote. “He also created reasonable doubt about his impartiality and his ability to fairly discharge his duties in cases related to the 2020 presidential election and January 6th attack on the Capitol. His recusal in these matters is both necessary and required.”

A social media user dug up and posted the Alito opinion in the 2022 Christian flag case, eliciting this comment from professor of law and former U.S. Attorney, MSNBC’s Joyce Vance:

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

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