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8402NEWS -- 2014.04.04.Friday evening

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  • James Martin
    Apr 4, 2014
      Friday evening 04 April 2014
      1) The FRC wants you to send a thank you to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R)
      2) AU's Reflections on Tuesday's (March 25) Hobby Lobby Arguments
      3) WTF Is ‘Natural Marriage’?
      4) Jon Stewart on Hobby Lobby
      5) World Vision Reverses Decision to Allow Same-Sex Marriage
      6) Obamacare Critic Melts Down on MSNBC's ‘All In With Chris Hayes’
      7) Noam Chomsky: Ecology, Ethics, Anarchism
      8) Aaron Swartz: The Internet’s Own Boy
      from the Family Research Council (FRC) -- Southern Baptist political front --->
      April 04, 2014 -- Friday

      Dear ___________,

      Yesterday, I had the privilege of personally thanking Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) and state legislative leaders at the signing of SB 2681 -- the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Amid the seemingly daily attacks on our First Freedom, it's encouraging to see that some elected officials are willing to stand for the unalienable right to practice our faith in every aspect of our lives.

      Like other state RFRA measures, the Left put immense pressure on Mississippi officials to cave. And in many states, we've seen so-called "leaders" tuck tail and run when the political climate gets rough. But the Mississippi legislature and governor stood strong against the tide. Some things are too precious to just let them go and be trampled on by a vocal few, and our religious liberty is absolutely one of these.

      Many of our Founding Fathers came to this continent in search of religious liberty, and their courage is still our heritage today, no matter our current circumstances. Please join us in thanking Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi legislature for standing on that principle, and acknowledging the importance of the freedom to live according to our faith.

      Please sign our Thank You to Governor Phil Bryant and the Mississippi legislature for standing strong for our First Freedom!     https://www.frc.org/ click on Take Action

      Tony Perkins

      P.S. Please forward this email to at least one friend.

      They love their theological mythology, "according to our faith".
      Be nice now.
      Here's their screed from April 3rd, Thursday --->

      Won Mississippi...

      What the Founding Fathers hailed as a virtue to be pursued and protected is today being pursued and pummeled by those who want to see religious freedom quarantined to the four walls of our churches. Fortunately, there are still some elected leaders who understand that all our freedoms hinge upon our First Freedom, the freedom of religion. Today, I had the honor of joining Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) at the signing of SB2681 -- the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and had the opportunity to thank him first-hand -- and others who were instrumental in passing the bill -- for their tremendous leadership in defending religious liberty.

      Unfortunately, political courage is in short supply these days. That's never been more obvious than these last few weeks, when the opposition launches massive misinformation campaigns. Too many "leaders" tuck tail and run, instead of standing their ground and learning the facts. Some things are worth fighting for -- and religious freedom, the ability to live out our faith in every aspect of our lives, is at the top of that list. As the Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

      There is absolutely no aspect of our lives that should be beyond the guiding light of Scripture -- a truth the Founding Fathers not only understood, but also felt obligated to defend. In this evening's edition of "Washington Watch," I had the privilege of having Governor Bryant join me in-studio to discuss the bill signing and their successful pro-family legislative session. After 7:30 p.m.(ET), you can listen online to the interview archive by clicking here.

      Last Week
      from Americans United for Separation of Church and State https://au.org/
      Friday 28 March 2014

      AU's Reflections on Tuesday's Hobby Lobby Arguments

      I had the privilege of being in the lawyers' gallery at the US Supreme Court this week as the combined case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius was argued. Several other of Americans United for Separation of Church and State's attorneys – who filed a friend-of-the-court brief against Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood – as well as Communications staffer Simon Brown were present at the high court, too. Simon wrote a blog post that I wanted to be sure you saw which sums up our thoughts on the arguments – you'll find it below.

      As we were inside, numerous AU staffers and supporters were outside standing (in the snow and freezing temps!) in support of true religious freedom, and Communications Associate Sarah Jones spoke at a nearby church during the Faith Rally. All of us have worked hard during the past several months – drafting the amicus brief (and more than a dozen briefs in related cases), researching and reporting on the issues, and organizing opposition to bogus religious liberty claims such as Hobby Lobby's – and we were at the Court on your behalf this week. Please make a generous donation to AU today to help us continue this vital work.
      Barry Lynn

      Snapshots From The Supreme Court: Justices Ponder Limits Of Religious Expression In Birth Control Case

      ~ Simon Brown, AU Asst. Communications Director
      Tuesday, March 25, 2014

      Do for-profit corporations exercise religion? What constitutes a religious enterprise? What did Congress intend when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993?

      These and many other questions were batted about this morning as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the pivotal combined case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties vs. Sebelius.

      I was fortunate to sit in the press gallery during the argument, and it seemed skepticism abounded on both sides.

      Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan did not appear to support the primary claim of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood: that secular, for-profit corporations should have a “religious freedom” right to be exempted from offering no-cost birth control to their employees in their employer-provided insurance plans.

      “How does a corporation exercise religion?” Sotomayor asked. “[H]ow do we determine when a corporation has that belief? Who says it? Is it the majority of shareholders? What happens to the minority?”

      All fair questions, and if Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood were honest, they would admit there is no easy answer to any of them.

      But the attorney arguing on behalf of the two corporations, former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, said “sincerity of belief” would be a key test in determining whether or not a corporation has a right to exercise religion.

      That response raised an issue that Sotomayor called “dangerous.”

      “That’s the most dangerous piece,” she said. “That’s the one we’ve resisted in all our exercise jurisprudence, to measure the depth of someone’s religious beliefs.”

      But Clement had an answer for that, too.

      “You can test sincerity,” he posited.

      He then gave a far-fetched example of someone who was busted for marijuana possession, but claimed he belonged to “the church of marijuana” and had a “religious liberty” right to smoke pot. It’s silly, but if Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood succeed, who is to say that defense would not work in the future?

      Later, Kagan noted correctly that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are not actually being forced to pay for birth control. Instead, any corporation has the option not to offer any health insurance, which would then trigger an annual tax of $2,000 per employee. The money raised would be used toward insurance coverage for those employees, and at about $26 million per year, would probably cost Hobby Lobby about the same amount as health insurance, Kagan said.

      And that’s when Clement went off the rails. He said just as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood object to paying for birth control, their religious conscience also dictates that they must directly provide health insurance. Simply opting out of offering insurance would be as offensive, Clement suggested, as providing contraceptives.

      Kagan and Ginsburg were clearly flabbergasted by that argument, which neither corporation had previously offered.

      “The provision of health care is not a religious tenet,” Ginsburg said.

      As for the other justices, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito appeared firmly in Hobby Lobby’s camp, fully accepting the idea that First Amendment rights extend to corporations even at the expense of scores of individuals.

      “Well, what is it about a for-profit corporation that is inconsistent with a free-exercise claim?” Alito asked.

      Said Scalia to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli: “If – if [Congress] wanted you to balance – balance the interest of the religious objector against the interest of other individuals [who are affected by the objector’s policies], they – they made no reference to that in RFRA at all.”

      Then there was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is typically the swing vote in church-state matters. He didn’t tip his hand today but asked some thoughtful questions.

      “How do you suggest we think about the rights of the employees?” he asked Clement – a key question in this matter.

      Outside the court, hundreds of people fought frigid temperatures and steady, wet snow to voice their opinions on the case. Americans United has been an outspoken advocate for the rights of all Americans to access birth control without religious interference, and much of our staff was there to show support by speaking at rallies and holding signs. AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn attended the argument and spoke to the media afterwards.

      Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood supporters were far fewer, and, based on their signs attacking abortion and Obamacare, some of them seemed confused as to what the case is about.

      Others seemed to think it was a dress-up ball (or perhaps Halloween). Members of the American Society for Tradition, Family and Property – a group of far-right Catholic men who pine for the Dark Ages – circulated through the crowd wearing red capes. One man in a kilt even played the bagpipes for them. (It’s unclear what role bagpipes play in a protest of the birth control mandate.)

      It’s difficult to say how this case will turn out, but the importance of its outcome cannot be overstated. If corporations gain the right to be exempted from one law on religious grounds, there is no telling how many other statutes religious fundamentalists will seek to ignore in the future – all in the name of conscience.

      The court has a difficult task at hand with many issues to consider. We won’t likely know how this shakes out until June, but we will eagerly await the outcome of this case. With so much at stake, this decision will likely have wide ramifications for a very long time.



      WTF Is ‘Natural Marriage?’

      By Michelle Cottle | The Daily Beast – Thursday 27 March 2014
      Today’s Politics 101 pop quiz: In the course of a fierce ideological battle, when it becomes clear that one side is getting its butt kicked, what are leaders of the losing team expected to do? A. Double down. B. Scare the crap out of their followers. C. Beg for money. D. All of the above.

      No one really needs help with this one, do they?

      So with public acceptance of gay marriage growing faster than Justin Bieber’s rap sheet, the culture warriors at the Family Research Council have been hawking their National Campaign in Defense of Natural Marriage. In multiple email calls to arms, FRC president Tony Perkins is urging people of “character and values” to “take a stand” by signing an on-line petition and, while they’re at it, donating a little something to this “counteroffensive.” By March 31, FRC wants—nay, “needs”—250,000 signatures and $1.1 million to “fund this demanding work of behalf of America’s families.” At that point, the e-petition will be deposited at the feet of the group’s latest hero, Sen. Ted Cruz, “in a public display of support for natural marriage.” Perkins pleads/warns/threatens: “I want to encourage you: natural marriage is not a lost cause in America—unless we give up and let the same-sex ‘marriage’ advocates have their way because we failed to stand up for what is right.”

      Now, as a political obsessive subscribed to an unhealthy number of email lists, I receive a daily flood of overwrought solicitations from across the spectrum. Most I toss after a quick glance. But Perkins’s latest entreaties stopped me, not because of their tone or topic but because of their language. Specifically, I somehow missed the moment when “natural marriage” became the preferred term of anti-gay-marriage crusaders. (Sadly, despite several interview requests, the folks at FRC were unavailable to discuss this matter.)

      It makes perfect sense when you think about it. As political rhetoric goes, “natural marriage” is ever so much more evocative—and, better yet, provocative—than the more commonly employed term “traditional marriage.” After all, plenty of folks would be amenable to, or perhaps even charmed by, the idea of an untraditional marriage. An unnatural marriage, by contrast, brings to mind all manner of unsavory couplings—like, for instance, the man-on-dog action that keeps Rick Santorum up at night. And, indeed, defenders of “natural marriage” talk a lot about how gay marriage is an affront to God’s “natural law.”

      The folks at FRC did not, it should be noted, come up with the phrase on their own. The Catholic Church, for instance, tends to refer to “natural marriage” in contrast to “sacramental marriage”—the former being an exclusive, lifetime covenant between a man and a woman of no particular religious backgrounds, while the latter is specifically the union of a man and woman baptized within the Church. In this context, a natural marriage, while good and legitimate, is nonetheless spiritually inferior to a sacramental one.

      Less canonically, “natural marriage” is also at times used as a rough synonym for “common-law marriage.” Even if limited to the hetero variety, such non-ceremonial arrangements, recognized by only a handful of states, would seem to be a far cry from the super-stable family environments that natural-marriage advocates are ostensibly seeking.

      Not that any of this much matters now, as “natural marriage”  has become a rallying cry for those looking to beat back, as Perkins puts it, “the agenda of the Progressive Left and radical homosexual lobby.” Back in 2004, a FRC pamphlet promoting hetero-only unions was all about “traditional marriage,” as were many of the group’s other communiques up through 2012. More recently, however, its commentary has been increasingly all “natural,” so to speak. Similarly, conservative groups like the Liberty Counsel (the legal nonprofit that takes up conservative causes pro bono) and Americans for the Truth about Homosexuality are solidly on the “natural” bandwagon.

      As conservative spin doctor Frank Luntz taught us, if you don’t like the way a debate is going, you need to change the terms. Literally. Trying to rally a nation against the estate tax is a tough lift. But a “death tax”? Now there’s rhetorical gold. “Global warming” = scary and bad; “climate change,” not so much. In some cases, the differences may amount to no more than a couple of letters—say, the Democratic party vs. the Democrat party. And when it comes to firing up the faithful, not to mention separating them from their cash, “natural marriage” certainly seems to pack more gut-level oomph than its more “traditional” cousin.

      The debate in question, however, may be beyond the point of such rhetorical retrofitting. These days, not even the veiled threats of bestiality, polygamy, and other comparably “unnatural” acts seem likely to derail the marriage equality train. Which may explain why, with less than a week left in its petition drive, FRC had yet to crack 10,000 signatories. Only 240,000 to go.

      Here you go ---
      My comment ---
      The bible is full of polygamy. Is that natural marriage?
      Hobby Lobby

      World Vision Reverses Decision to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

      By Brian Feldman, The Atlantic Wire, Thursday 27 March 2014

      Two days ago, World Vision U.S., one of the largest Christian charities in the country, changed its guidelines to allow for employees in same-sex marriages. Now, it is reversing that decision.

      The decision to allow gay marriage among employees was widely criticized, and many donors wrote as much on the charity’s Facebook page. One major Pentecostal denomination urged members to switch their World Vision contributions to other charities. Wednesday’s news caused them to relent as well.

      The result of threats of potential lost funding caused World Vision’s board to vote unanimously on Wednesday to reverse its decision and stick to heterosexual marriage only.

      In a letter to donors, World Vision’s President, Richard Stearns wrote:

      In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith … We also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian Partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

      We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent.

      Stearns did not say how much donor funding the organization might have lost in the days since the initial change.

      This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/03/world-vision-reverses-decision-to-allow-same-sex-marriage/359699/

      Here's what the FRC sent out today ---

      Obamacare Critic Melts Down on MSNBC's ‘All In With Chris Hayes’

      By Mekeisha Madden Toby, The Wrap,  Thursday 27 March 2014

      The life of political pundits can be tough especially when they lose their cool on live TV.

      Such was the case for Obamacare critic Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity when she appeared on MSNBC's “All In With Chris Hayes” Wednesday night. The interview, which addressed the two-week extension of the Obamacare enrollment deadline, started off on a somewhat friendly tone.

      Hayes asked, “Why does extending the deadline for two weeks take away the choices you have for your children,” something Stefano had stated and she answered saying President Obama had lied to mothers who had voted for him.

      But when Hayes later asked why her organization and others were waking up and looking for ways to go to war against Obamacare, Stefano grew enraged.

      “You know nothing about me,” Stefano said, sounding a little like a Ben Folds song. “You have no idea why I wake up in the morning…You know nothing about me, you know nothing about my family. You don't know if I was born and raised in a trailer park.”

      And then Stefano took the debate somewhere else entirely. “How dare you, like Harry Reid, try to undercut the voice of a woman simply because she disagrees with you,” she said. “How dare you!”

      No word yet on if Stefano will appear on Hayes’ show again. But if this is exchange is any indication, it's highly unlikely. Check out the video below:


      Noam Chomsky: Ecology, Ethics, Anarchism

      Thursday, 03 April 2014 09:20 By Javier Sethness, Truthout

      Javier Sethness, Truthout: Noam Chomsky speaks with Truthout about how indigenous peoples are trying to save the world from anthropogenic climate disruption and the havoc being wrought by what he calls "really existing capitalist democracies."

      --- click on URL ---

      Aaron Swartz: The Internet’s Own Boy

      Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)
      Posted on Mar 27, 2014

      This week on Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: A new documentary shows the genius and tragedy of Aaron Swartz, Hobby Lobby v. Women, the race to replace Rep. Henry Waxman is on, and we look at the surprising locale of the most segregated schools in America.

      Listen to the show:  --- click on URL ---