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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center Fellows Promote ‘Stolen Election’ Falsehoods and COVID Conspiracy Theories, for Jesus

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Liberty University’s Falkirk Center celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. The Center describes its purpose as “educating, inspiring, and mobilizing Christians in the battle to preserve American liberty and rally citizens in an effort to shape government policies, national institutions, and American society through a Biblical worldview.”

Like its bullying co-founders Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Charlie Kirk, the Center takes an aggressive posture in defense of a Christian nationalist vision and in opposition to secularism. “I don’t care what the winds of wokeism tell us,” said Executive Director Ryan Helfenbein in an article on Liberty’s website. “We don’t just want to be an organization that barks; we want to be an organization that bites.”

“The function and the moral mission of the Falkirk Center is to go on the offense in the name of Christian principles and in the name of exceptional, God-given American liberties,” says the Center’s website. “Accomplishing this end requires more than adding noise to the echo chamber. It requires an army of bold ambassadors equipped with Biblical and Constitutional knowledge to speak truth to believers and unbelievers alike in every professional field and public forum.”

The leaders of Falkirk’s “army of bold ambassadors” are its fellows, who include:

  • Kirk, head of right-wing youth organizing group Turning Point USA and a vocal ally of Christian nationalist and dominionist religious-right leaders. Kirk recently tweeted, “There is more evidence of systemic voter fraud in America than ‘systemic racism’ yet which one do you think Democrats are more worried about?” He has portrayed public health restrictions on church gatherings as a Democratic plot against Christianity.
  • Sebastian Gorka, a Steve Bannon acolyte, pugnacious right-wing pundit, and former Trump White House aide.
  • Eric Metaxas, author and pundit and promoter of pro-Trump conspiracy theories who will emcee a right-wing rally on the National Mall Dec. 12.
  • Jenna Ellis, an attorney for Trump and the Trump campaign who has been joined at the hip with Rudy Giuliani as they press false and unsubstantiated claims that have been tossed out of one court after another; as special counsel to the religious-right Thomas More Law Center, she has represented churches defying COVID-19-related public health restrictions.
  • David Brat, former member of Congress from Virginia.
  • Darrell Harrison, a podcaster and dean of social media at Grace to You, a ministry of controversial outspoken evangelist John MacArthur.
  • Virgil Walker, a pastor and seminary student who co-hosts Harrison’s “Just Thinking” podcast.
  • David Harris, Jr., a right-wing social media figure who is on the board of Black Voices for Trump and Candace Owens’ BLEXIT.
  • Erika Frantzve, a model, podcast host, “social entrepreneur,” and Liberty University doctoral student who recently became engaged to Kirk.

Among the first-year accomplishments cited by the Falkirk Center was its day-long “faith summit” called “Get Louder,” which featured Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar as a speaker on a panel moderated by Metaxas.

The celebratory post, written by Liberty communications staffer Logan Smith, mentioned that “Falkirk Podcast” guests have included Trump lawyer and national punchline Giuliani and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, who teaches that genuine Christians must adhere to a belief in a literal six-day Creation and a universe that is thousands of years old.

It also placed the Falkirk Center firmly on the side of right-wing evangelicals who believe that conversations about social justice and racism within the church are dangerous, evil, and enemies of the Gospel. The article quotes a Liberty University parent praising Falkirk for “drawing attention to leftist thinking that is attacking the Church.”

“The Falkirk Center fills a need deeply felt during this time of increasing wokeness and social justice inside the church, calling Christians and pastors to return to the true doctrine of God’s Word,” said Grant May, one of a growing number of Falkirk Center ambassadors from across the country, according to the Liberty blog post. “The center has inspired and encouraged me during the rising fad of cultural Christianity to truly dive into the Word and remember what Christ’s commands for the Church were, not modern-day pastors’ advice on how to be culturally relevant.”

The post also celebrates that the Falkirk Center “has consistently encouraged churches and pastors to defy” pandemic “lockdown orders.”

The anniversary blog post included no mention of the Falkirk Center’s co-founder Jerry Falwell, Jr., the university’s disgraced former president. The Falkirk moniker is a fusion of Falwell’s name and that of cofounder Charlie Kirk, who heads the right-wing youth organizing project Turning Point USA, as well as a reference to the battle of Falkirk, memorialized in the movie Braveheart.

 

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

Image: Charlie Kirk interviews President Donald Trump, 2019

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

QAnon Shaman’s Lawyer: Capitol Rioters Are ‘Short-Bus People’ Manipulated by Worst ‘Propaganda Since Hitler’

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Jacob Chansley, dubbed the QAnon Shaman in the media, is among the most famous of the Capitol rioters who is facing federal criminal charges in connection with the January 6 insurrection. Albert Watkins, Chansley’s attorney, discussed his client with Talking Points Memo’s Matt Shuham — who reports that Watkins indicated that he is using his client’s mental state as a defense.

Watkins told Shuham, “A lot of these defendants — and I’m going to use this colloquial term, perhaps disrespectfully — but they’re all fucking short-bus people. These are people with brain damage, they’re fucking retarded, they’re on the goddamn spectrum. But they’re our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, our coworkers — they’re part of our country. These aren’t bad people; they don’t have prior criminal history. Fuck, they were subjected to four-plus years of goddamn propaganda, the likes of which the world has not seen since fucking Hitler.”

The propaganda that Watkins is obviously referring to is the propaganda of former President Donald Trump. The rioters who attacked the Capitol on January 6 bought into Trump’s false and totally debunked claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. And Watkins is arguing that they were manipulated by the former president.

Watkins wrote that Chansley has been consistent “in his assertion that but for the actions and the words of the President, he would not have appeared in Washington, DC to support the President and, but for the specific words of the then-President during his January 6, 2021 speech, the Defendant would not have walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and would not have gone into the U.S. Capitol Building.”

 

Image via Shutterstock

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene Team Up to Push ‘Unhinged’ Trump-Promoted Conspiracy Theory to DOJ

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Four right wing GOP lawmakers on Monday teamed up to send a letter advancing a far right conspiracy theory promoted by Donald Trump over the weekend.

U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) have signed the joint letter drafted by the embattled Florida Congressman to the top DOJ official in charge of civil rights, telling her to stay out of the Maricopa Country, Arizona recount. That recount, being conducted by a company that has no experience in election recounts and that has been soliciting funds for the effort despite that the taxpayers fund it, has now been going on for well over three weeks, with no end in sight.

The four extremist lawmakers include a man accused and under DOJ investigation for possible sex-trafficking and possible sex with a minor; a QAnon supporter accused of illegal tax fraud; and a white nationalist. All have voted to overturn the 2020 election.

Their letter is addressed to Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

In the letter they claim: “It has also been widely reported that before the equipment was delivered to independent auditors, an entire ‘Database’ directory of election information was deleted from the Election Management System Primary machine. According to Senator Fann, ‘this suggests that the main database for all election related data for the November 2020 General Election has been removed.'”

On Saturday in a blog post Donald Trump wrote, “The entire database of Maricopa County in Arizona, has been DELETED!”

The claim is absolutely false, according to the Republican county recorder in Maricopa County, Stephen Richer, who calls Trump’s conspiracy theory “unhinged” and “insane”:

The four Republican end the letter by demanding a response by Thursday.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘RIP Roe v. Wade’: Legal Experts Warn on SCOTUS Decision to Take Up ‘Biggest Abortion Case in More Than a Generation’

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The U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning announced it will take up a Mississippi case that bans abortion after 15 weeks. Legal experts say with a 6-3 conservative majority, and after years of right wing pressure including spending tens of millions of dollars to get those conservatives onto the Court, Americans are likely to see the end to women’s right to choose to have an abortion.

SCOTUSblog says the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, “could be the biggest abortion case in more than a generation.”

The Mississippi case is clearly unconstitutional, based on the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, as The New York Times notes today:

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

Many conservative groups spent a tremendous amount of money to get America to the point where the Supreme Court would overturn what its own justices have said is “settled law.” Tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explains why this is likely the end.

“There is no split in the lower courts over a state’s ability to ban abortion at 15 weeks (or earlier),” he says via Twitter. “It seems likely that the Supreme Court took this case to change the rule.”

And he suggests, as have others, that conservatives on the court waited until they had a strong majority to take up this case.

“The Supreme Court has sat on Dobbs since September 2020. There was clearly a battle behind the scenes between the justices over the decision to take this case. It is an extraordinarily ominous sign for reproductive rights that the anti-abortion faction apparently won out.”

Stern says “the court may effectively greenlight total bans on abortion. Reproductive rights advocates have been dreading this day for a long time.”

Other legal experts agree that a woman’s right to have an abortion is likely nearing the end.

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman, who now teaches constitutional law at the University of California Los Angeles and San Diego, and is an LA Times Legal Affairs Columnist, says this is a “Frontal assault on constitutional reproductive rights.”

Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America:

“It is clear,” Fordham University law professor Jed Shugerman says, the Supreme Court “will erode Roe. Kavanaugh is likely the decisive vote whether to overturn Roe.”

Stern says the conservative justices “seem ready to end Roe head-on,” and Barrett is the reason:

Vox Senior Correspondent Ian Millhiser, author of two books on the Supreme Court, sums it up succinctly:

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