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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Congressman Tied to Anti-Gay Groups Scheduled to Speak at ‘Kill the Gays’ Pastor’s Conference

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Editor’s note: See update below.

A Republican U.S. Congressman from Louisiana is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at a Bible conference hosted by infamous “Kill the Gays” Pastor Kevin Swanson. Swanson made headlines in 2015 for saying gay people should be put to death.

As Right Wing Watch has reported, Swanson has called HIV/AIDS, “God’s retribution,” and “defended Uganda’s kill-the-gays bill, warned that the Girl Scouts, women’s soccer and movies like ‘Frozen’ turn girls into lesbians, and accused gay people of causing devastating floods and hurricanes.”

Freshman U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) in August will deliver a speech titled “The Bible: Equipping the Man of God for Politics and the Culture War,” at Swanson’s Bible Family Conference, according to the current schedule. Johnson has ties to at least two anti-gay hate groups: the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.

Rep. Johnson was a senior attorney and national media spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay hate group that has brought a high-profile case claiming oppression of a Christian cake baker before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ironically, despite agreeing to speak at Swanson’s conference, Rep. Johnson authored a “Commitment to Civility,” signed by 53 members of Congress.

Others expected to speak at Pastor Swanson’s event include radical Christian Bible extremist Ken Ham, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, and far right wing evangelist Ray Comfort, responsible for actor Kirk Cameron’s transformation into an evangelical.

Here’s Swanson speaking in 2015, shortly before hosting GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee:

“Throughout my career,” Johnson says in the Facebook photo at the top, standing with anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins, “I have worked tirelessly to support legislation that protects conservative values of faith, family and freedom.”

“This week, I was honored by the Family Research Council with the True Blue Award for my vote on critical bills that protect life and promote fiscal responsibility.”

An email to Rep. Johnson’s office did not immediately receive a response.

UPDATE: 05.02.18 –
Rep. Johnson’s office responded to our inquiry. They first claimed:

“Congressman Johnson was invited to speak to a Christian conference in August. He was unaware of Mr. Swanson’s participation and of his previous comments. Once this was brought to the congressman’s attention, he immediately denounced those comments and withdrew his participation.”

When NCRM replied, noting there was no record of Rep. Johnson denouncing Swanson’s remarks, Johnson’s office responded: “The Congressman was asked by a friend not associated with Swanson or his organization to join a Bible conference in D.C. Once he learned of Swanson’s connection to the conference he immediately withdrew his participation.”

After NCRM’s article Rep. Johnson’s name was removed from the schedule at Swanson’s Bible Family Conference.

Johnson’s office also told NCRM: “Congressman Johnson believes and has publicly stated many times that all people are made in God’s image, and God calls us to love all and to treat every person with dignity and respect.”

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Christian Right Facing ‘Credibility’ Issues — Just as They Try to Force Their Will on Everyone Else: Analyst

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On Tuesday, writing for MSNBC’s ReidOutBlog, Ja’han Jones outlined how the Christian Right is facing renewed moral scrutiny and a crisis of “credibility” — at exactly the moment they have captured the Supreme Court and have begun striking down rights and protections they have long declared to be counter to moral society.

Specifically, he argued, the latest rash of sex abuse allegations against conservative Christian institutions puts their moral authority on the line.

The Catholic Church has long faced criticism for overlooking and shielding priests accused of molesting children — but now, noted Jones, other denominations are coming under scrutiny for similar alleged misconduct.

“First, there’s the scandal still unfolding at Agapè Boarding School, a Christian facility for young men in Missouri that’s facing a slew of child abuse allegations. Agapè pitches guardians on its ability to ‘biblically teach your child the importance of submission to authority and the joys of being an obedient law-abiding citizen,'” wrote Jones. “The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been investigating Agapè for systemic child abuse for more than a year now. On Monday, The Daily Beast reported new details about several students who have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually abused and beaten by workers at the school.”

IN OTHER NEWS: ‘Striking’ how close Georgia election investigation is getting to Trump: legal expert

“That alleged culture of abuse sounds similar to the one victims say was fostered by the Southern Baptist Convention, an ultraconservative denomination of Christian nationalists,” wrote Jones. “In May, church leaders released a report showing hundreds of pastors and church workers have been accused of sexual abuse. The SBC, which is in ideological lockstep with the conservative movement, has since released the names of pastors it says were accused between 2000 and 2019. When the news dropped, SBC President Ed Litton said in a statement there ‘are not adequate words to express my sorrow at the things revealed in this report,’ and that Southern Baptists ‘must resolve to change our culture and implement desperately needed reforms.'”

All of this, he noted, comes as many right-wing Christian organizations are claiming that their hate speech and discrimination against LGBTQ people is in the name of “defending children.” And this is “an impossible sell when the worlds they operate appear even more broken than the one they want to ‘fix.'”

You can read more here.

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Religious-Right Attorney Says Companies Offering to Provide Abortion Assistance Are Paying to ‘Kill Your Children’

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In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and reversing 50 years of precedent by eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, dozens of companies announced that they could provide coverage or reimbursements to employees who may now need to travel out of state to obtain an abortion.

Appearing on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program Tuesday, religious-right legal activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel likened those companies to those who cooperated with the Nazis in Germany during World War II and accused them of treating their employees like “slave labor.”

“These employers say they will give money to the mothers in order for the mothers to kill their children so you won’t miss any time off from work rather than give you time off from work, which is what’s required by federal law,” Staver said. “They don’t want to give you the time to be a mother. They don’t want you to be away from the place of work. They would rather kill your children—pay you to do so—so you could jump back into the workplace and you can go through their eight-hour day or however long they’re going put you at the at the wheel so that they can make a profit.”

“That’s the despicable nature of what’s happening,” he continued. “Women and others across the country ought to just really cry out and say, ‘You despicable companies!  You’re paying to kill the children of these mothers so that you can continue their slave labor and continue your profits off of them.”

“These companies and the states that go down this road, they will not be blessed,” Staver warned. “They will ultimately be complicit with the shedding of innocent blood, and we’ll look back on those companies just like we look back on some of the things that happened during Nazi Germany and say, ‘Shame on you. How in the world did this ever happen?’”

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

‘Lied’: Gorsuch Blasted After Photos Expose His Claims in High School Coach Praying Case Are a ‘Flat Out, Knowing Lie’

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Many people from legal experts to court watchers to journalists to ordinary Americans on social media are criticizing Justice Neil Gorsuch for his majority opinion in a decision siding with a former high school football coach. That coach sued after the school district ordered him to stop praying after every game at the 50-yard line. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion, as many are noticing, appears to be based on facts that are false. Several are accusing Gorsuch of just plain lying.

Justice Gorsuch claimed the coach’s First Amendment rights were violated, and that he was merely engaging in “quiet personal prayer” as he knelt.

Gorsuch uses the word “quiet” 14 times, as The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman notes.

“Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a high school football coach because he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet prayer of thanks,” Justice Gorsuch writes as he begins his majority opinion. “Mr. Kennedy prayed during a period when school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters. He offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied. Still, the Bremerton School District disciplined him anyway. It did so because it thought anything less could lead a reasonable observer to conclude (mistakenly) that it endorsed Mr. Kennedy’s religious beliefs. That reasoning was misguided.”

“The contested exercise here does not involve leading prayers with the team,” Gorsuch continues (despite photos that appear to suggest otherwise), “the District disciplined Mr. Kennedy only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his students after three games in October 2015.”

These are the photos of Coach Kennedy that Justice Sonia Sotomayor included in her dissent:

“They aren’t even trying to use reason anymore,” former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade laments:

And Vox’s Ian Millhiser makes clear what just happened: “The Supreme Court hands the religious right a big victory by lying about the facts of a case.”

Calling the decision “a big victory for the religious right,” Millhiser writes that’s “only because Gorsuch misrepresents the facts of the case.”

On Twitter Millhiser adds that Gorsuch’s own opinion debunks his own opinion:

Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy:

Here’s noted political scientist Norman Ornstein:

Others also felt it necessary to correct the facts in the case:

 

 

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