CNN Anchor Grills Tony Perkins on Anti-Gay Stances

February 21, 2012, 4:01 pm | Posted by

Faithful America has been running a campaign asking MSNBC to stop booking hate-group leader Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, on their shows. Perkins appears as a frequent contributor without being balanced by a progressive Christian leader or challenged for his organization’s hateful lies about the LGBT community.

While MSNBC is far and away the most frequent offender, other networks give Perkins a platform too. But on CNN earlier this month, anchor Don Lemon finally provided an example of how to do this right, challenging Perkins for his organization’s silence on violence against gays and lesbians.

Equality Matters adds context:

Though Perkins denies condoning violence against gays and lesbians, he’s made a living out of peddling homophobic myths that depict LGBT people as threats, predators, and enemies of the state.

Perkins’ FRC also has also long opposed efforts to protect gays and lesbians from violence. The organization has been a vocal opponent of efforts to include sexual orientation in anti-bullying and hate crime legislation. FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg has openly advocated for the criminalization of homosexuality and even suggested that gay people should be exported out of the country.

Good on Lemon for speaking up. Hopefully other anchors and networks will take notice and stop giving this hate group credibility and a free pass.

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Glenn Beck Meets with Cardinal Dolan in Rome

February 21, 2012, 2:00 pm | Posted by

Glenn Beck, last seen getting pushed off of Fox News because his extreme, offensive rhetoric and conspiracy theories proved too crazy for even that network, went to the Vatican this week and met with high-ranking Catholic officials.

Beck’s website, The Blaze, includes this photo from the trip of Beck meeting with newly appointed Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Beck and Dolan

There’s no indication of how long the meeting was or what they spoke about but hopefully the answers are brief and nothing of substance.

Given Beck’s violent rhetoric and particular attacks on religious traditions like Catholicism that are deeply concerned about social and economic justice, faith leaders like Cardinal Dolan should refuse to give him any level of endorsement or credibility.

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Erick Erickson’s perversion of Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast Remarks

February 9, 2012, 3:07 pm | Posted by

In a rambling post including swipes at Jim Wallis, Barry Lynn, the Social Gospel, the liberal media and Jeremiah Wright, Erick Erickson accused President Obama of “perverting the words of Christ to pursue his tax plan” at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. Here are the President’s remarks that so offended Erickson:

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone.  And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”

Erickson claims that the President’s allusion to this passage (Luke 12:48) distorts its meaning. Here’s the heart of his complaint:

Christ was not talking about money. The President, in making the case for his tax plan using that passage of scripture, perverts Christ’s meaning. Christ was talking explicitly about the blessings flowing from God to the apostles and us through the Word and the need to proclaim Christ as the Living God.

I’ll leave aside the fact that Erickson fails to explain why Christ would deem it a “perversion” to draw lessons about material stewardship from a parable about spiritual stewardship. It’s not exactly a leap – the parable of the rich fool is in the same chapter of Luke. And rather than proclaiming that the parable definitively means Jesus would support his tax plan, President Obama is simply applying its lesson to his own beliefs on the matter.

What struck me most was Erickson’s self-contradiction. By the standard he lays out, the lessons of Scripture are relevant strictly within the literal confines of their immediate context. Applying a passage’s lesson to other contexts and situations “perverts” it. However, Erickson commits this very act elsewhere in his post by invoking God’s command that Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) as a justification for opposing contraception.

He thus contends it’s perfectly legitimate to argue that God’s specific command for the first humans to populate an empty world should dictate that millennia later, in a world that is thoroughly populated, women should not use specific methods to control the timing and number of their pregnancies. If it’s permissible for Erickson to apply the lessons of Genesis to 21st-century medicine, why is it impermissible for the President to apply a parable about spiritual stewardship to his personal beliefs about material stewardship? Erickson’s trying to have it both ways — extrapolation by me, but not by thee.

Furthermore, Erickson would do well to dial down the self-righteous lectures. A Christian who finds the electrocution of his fellow children of God spectacularly entertaining ought to reexamine his own understanding of the faith before accusing others of “perverting” it.

I sympathize with Erickson a little bit. I too take umbrage when I believe leaders inappropriately use Scripture to advance their political beliefs. But that doesn’t make it right for Erickson to subject a fellow Christian to half-baked accusations of “perversion” and hypocritical condemnations.

Also: what Tim King said.

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Politico Misrepresents Obama’s Comments at National Prayer Breakfast

February 2, 2012, 4:30 pm | Posted by

As Nick highlighted, President Obama’s remarks at today’s National Prayer Breakfast included, among many important points, a thoughtful explanation of how his faith informs his political beliefs about budget and tax policy. Unfortunately, these remarks have already been misinterpreted in the media. Ed Kilgore has the scoop:

So President Obama spoke at this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast, and it’s not just conservative gabbers who are mocking him for allegedly claiming direct divine sanction for his policy proposals. Here’s Politico’s stupid headline: “Obama: Jesus Would Tax the Rich.”

…But matter of fact, Obama did not claim Jesus as co-author of his policies: He merely suggested that they are influenced by the values taught by Jesus, as he understands them. He went far out of his way to try to make that clear, saying: “Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us.”

Connecting authentic faith to contentious political issues is an inherently difficult but worthy endeavor. Perhaps more political leaders would try to do so if their words wouldn’t be so grossly taken out of context.

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Compassionate conservatism’s comeback?

January 10, 2012, 3:23 pm | Posted by

In the wake of Rick Santorum’s virtual tie with Mitt Romney for first place in the Iowa caucus, a once-common term — “compassionate conservatism”– has re-entered the political lexicon. Political blogs across the spectrum, religious publications and prominent newspaper columnists are debating whether Santorum is the new standard-bearer of this label. The discussion actually says more about the state of conservatism than it does about the former senator from Pennsylvania.

The argument for Santorum’s compassionate conservatism is that he talks about poverty as a moral issue on the campaign trail and his record as a lawmaker, at least on a few issues, jibes more with social justice Christianity than with Tea Party radicalism. Santorum stood up for lifesaving international aid at a GOP debate while others scored cheap political points by demonizing it. As a senator he strongly supported the PEPFAR program to combat AIDS in Africa and stood up for solutions that help the poor, such as debt relief and community health centers. These stances are commendable.

But when deciding whether a politician deserves to be called a compassionate conservative, we should examine how consistently he defends the most vulnerable and those at the margins.

Santorum’s compassion is very selective. He advocates breaking up immigrant families and opposes the DREAM Act. He calls climate change a liberal hoax. He supports torturing detainees in US custody. He endorsed Representative Paul Ryan’s immoral federal budget plan and says poor Americans should suffer more. And few politicians exhibit greater hostility toward gay and lesbian Americans.

Santorum also uses moral arguments to defend economic policies that harm struggling Americans. His unwavering defense of deregulating big business and huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy is standard fare for the GOP, but when it comes to helping poor Americans, he argues that protections for the unemployed and the working poor create dependency rather than help people get back on their feet. When job seekers outnumber jobs 4-to-1 and 49 million Americans are trapped in poverty, this sort of rhetoric is dangerous, misleading and insulting.

It’s a sad commentary on our nation’s politics when a record as uneven and troubling as Santorum’s enables him to seize the mantle of compassionate conservatism. A real compassionate conservative movement would be a welcome change from today’s radicalized GOP and a valuable contribution to addressing poverty and inequality. But this ain’t it.

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