Several years ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote a book with the title Liberal Fascism, and it of course enraged people on the left end of the political spectrum. How dare you call us fascists, they bellowed! Maybe this, from Andrew Walker and Owen Strachan at NRO, will help explain:

Last night, New York Times reporter Josh Barro tweeted out a disturbing message: “Anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

This is rather shocking. Barro is no angry blogger writing manifestos in his basement. He is a respected reporter from a prestigious newspaper that prides itself on equanimity in the face of heated debate. Yet he seems, by any reasonable measure, to be fomenting a campaign to rout out all dissenters from the sexual revolution. Erick Erickson wrote a brief response to Barro’s tweet, to which Barro replied that he thinks that “we should make anti-LGBT views shameful like segregation. Not saying we should off people.”

Make no mistake: when Barro refers to “anti-LGBT attitudes,” he’s not talking about Westboro Baptist. He’s talking about tens of millions of traditional, orthodox Christians and Jews, people whose views were virtually universal in the United States and indeed the entire West as little as thirty years ago. Even today, those views are hardly the views of a tiny minority.

Even leaving aside the potential for large-scale social conflict from efforts to “ruthlessly stamp out” traditional beliefs, the dictatorial impulse expressed in Barro’s tweet–and the likelihood that it’s shared by many others of supposedly “liberal” mindset–is not sutelescreen-report-thought-crimerprising, but chilling in its bluntness. In his (their) view, beliefs about homosexual behavior that are firmly grounded in Christianity and Judaism are no more rational, have no more validity, and should be given no more respect than the racism of the KKK. Of course, he doesn’t advocate murdering the holders of such views, for which I suppose we should be grateful, but I doubt that all of his fellow sexual revolutionaries will be so accommodating.

It is this dictatorial impulse that lies behind the state efforts to penalize bakers and photographers for refusing to take part in gay weddings, the destruction of Mozilla’s Brendan Eich’s career, the labeling of anyone who is against gay marriage as “homophobic,” and the forced mainstreaming of homosexuality in public schools. It is totalitarian, utterly intolerant of dissent, and determined to destroy anything, including orthodox religion, that gets in its way.

I guess we should thank illiberals like Jeff Barro when they let the mask slip, since every time it happens more people hear about what the Barros of the world really think should be done about those who dare to disagree.


Naming His Grace has pointed out something I didn’t know (yeah, what are the odds, right?). It seems that the comments on Presbyterian News Service articles are moderated. That means that no comments get on their site unless someone at PNS approves them for publication, meaning not that they approve of the content, but consider them fair contributions to discussion.

She then points to the article published January 21, in which the Israel Palestine Mission Network trumpeted their completely unofficial, wholly unconnected to PCUSA congregational study entitled Zionism Unsettled, a pernicious collection of half-truths, significant omissions, and outright lying slanders against Israel, Jews, and Judaism.

Now, for a sample of the fair-minded, unhateful, and reasonable contributions to the debate over the book:

Finally, a major Christian denomination that has the courage to stand up and address the major problem facing our generation and our world. I was raised Lutheran, but you now have a new convert! I’ll be looking for a local church to join in my area that supports your open discussion on the topic. (Peter Jalajas)

Russians invading Ukraine? Iranians developing nuclear weapons? Civil war in Syria? North Korean mass murder? Economic instability? Overwhelming debt around the world? Inconsequential next to the evil that is the existence of a Jewish state.

I applaud The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church for addressing this issue. Zionism is not just bad for the Palestinians, but also, for the rest of the world as well. The Christian Zionist on here who blindly supports the Jews and Israel, does so out of emotion through their religious devotion, not the truth. The Jews can do no wrong in their eyes, and anytime someone points out the fact that the Jews are mere humans, who are capable of having flaws, they call them anti-Semitic. The Talmud is Judaism’s holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament in Judaism, and it’s hatred against Gentiles, Christ, and Christians, knows no bounds. Wake up, all of you Christian Zionist! Learn the truth, and stop blindly supporting the evil known as Zionism! (Robert Bowling)

Kudos to PCUSA for standing up to the political correctness that so often stymies open discussion of Jewish supremacism. For too long Christian Zionists have gotten away with enforcing a taboo against any examination of Jewish wrongdoing, claiming instead a bogus requirement that Christians must always bless Jews and their actions, however awful those actions are. (Harry H)

This is good news. Finally a traditional Christian org in America stands up to the uber hypocritical “Jewish” Zionist power structure. Its about time. Fact is, Jewish Zionism is based in Judaism/Talmudism as an all encompassing outward expression of other Jewish controlled movements such as Marxism-Communism. Its end goal is a world Gov seated by the main Anti Christ. Zionism is Judaism and it is the so called “Jews” common law where as true Israelites (European/white/Christians) common law is Christian/Natural law. Both of these common laws show the difference between the DNA/spirit of Esau “Jews” and European/whites-Christians (Jacob-Israel/Judah). The so called Jews, “Israelis” bid for World Gov will happen but it is destined to be replaced by God’s people (Authentic Christians) when the true lord returns, exposing the false and planting HIS kingdom on their apostasy. (By the way- don’t even try and calling me “anti semitic”. I will post “Jewish” admissions to all I have said above, all day long”. 95% of the so called “Jews” don’t have natural links to the tribes of Israel. They are impostors (Rev 2 and 3) coming from Maternal links to Esau and Ashkenaz who are from Japeth, not Shem (Genesis 10:3). (Tyrone Parsons)

Bravo PCUSA: I can not wait to get my copy of Zionism Unsettled. Based on all reviews, including desperately distorted ones from some who share in the guilt. This is a vital need fulfilled. And PCUSA will not be the last. For too long Christian Zionist in American evangelical churches, including, Richard L. Land of the Southern Baptist convention, have blame the victim for every act of brutality against them, and getting away with it. But the movement to discover and expose what Occupation is, is rooted and growing in the traditional churches like the PCUSA, who know abut missions. Scripture is on their side. “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Restated: Who would Jesus Bomb, or imprison for sixty years? (Charles Carlson, a peddler of Holocaust denial books.)

Zionism is anti-Christ. Ask the Jewish-Zionists. They aren’t interested in God’s and Jesus’s message of loving their neighbors. They stomp on their neighbors trying to get them to submit under Jewish supremacy. They steal their land by force of arms. Have you heard the racism and ethnic bigotry coming out of Jewish-Zionist leaders? It’s wicked. How can the Church not stand opposed to twisted, worldly Zionism? (Tom Usher)

Thank God PCUSA is restoring the church and seriously addressing the Jewish supremacism that drives hatred of others and a corrupt American foreign policy. They have no love for us or Christ. (A.H. Lindbergh)

The Jewish supremacists should take this report seriously. It shows that the church will not shill for their lies any more. (George Duke)

So in the land of Presbyterian journalism, this is the kind of stuff that is admissible as part of the debate over Middle East issues. Is it any wonder that people are fleeing the PCUSA in droves?

UPDATE: My friend Viola Larson, the writer of Naming His Grace, has updated her post on this subject, and it’s pertinent to the question of who’s responsible for this slop:

A friend sent me this information: “For several years now, all kinds of entities of the PCUSA have published stuff on the same web address that PNS uses. However, PNS has no responsibility for anything that is not clearly published by PNS itself. The article about Zionism Unsettled says it was published by The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They are free to do what they want, including opening up the possibility for responses, without PNS doing the same thing for their articles, and they don’t need PNS permission for it.”

So it’s actually the IPMN, using the free space they get whenever they want it from PNS, that is actually responsible.

The FBI famously has a “Ten Most Wanted List.” Ten is apparently not god enough for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD), which has launched something called the “Commentator Accountability Project,” aimed at indoctrinating educating journalists about the “extreme rhetoric” supposedly used by those on its “36 Most Wanted List.” According to the press release:

The GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP) aims to put critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters. Journalists or producers who are on deadline often don’t have the time to dig into the histories of a commentator. Audiences need to be aware that when they’re not talking to the mainstream media, these voices are comparing LGBT people to Nazi Germany, predicting that equal treatment of LGBT people will lead to the total collapse of society, and even making accusations of satanic influence.

The Commentator Accountability Project is bringing all of these statements to light, while calling attention to the sentiments behind them. We will show that the commentators who are most often asked to opine on issues like marriage equality or non-discrimination protections do not accurately represent the “other side” of those issues. They represent nothing but extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.

Says you. I find it interesting that GLAAD thinks it gets to decide who “accurately represents” those who oppose their agenda. Presumably it would be those whose opposition is, shall we say, nuanced (i.e., more apparent than real, e.g., someone like Tony Campolo, Richard Cizik, or Jim Wallis from the religious left).

That’s not to say there hasn’t been inflammatory, outrageous, and unChristian language on the part of some opponents of various aspects of the gay rights agenda. When that language is heard, it should immediately be denounced, and not by GLAAD, but by Christians. It is vitally important that, if we’re to make the case for biblical morality, we stick to language that is clear, rational, well-reasoned, backed by evidence, and untainted by personal animus. We must also remember that we are speaking in the public square, and that part of our task is to convince a public that no longer holds biblical morality as normative, meaning that simply quoting Scripture or the like is not going to get it done.

Anyway, there is a definite suggestion here that GLAAD is seeking to shut down some of the movement’s most persistent and effective critics. Rich Ferraro, communications director for GLAAD, told the Politico:

These anti-LGBT voices are being booked in local and national news as “experts” on the lives of LGBT people, however many reporters, bookers and producers do not realize that these aren’t experts, but people who have dedicated their careers to making life more difficult for LGBT people. Being anti-LGBT should not be a qualification for speaking about LGBT people and issues.

Translated, what he sounds like he’s saying is that unless one is gay, one cannot presume to address public policy issues that have an impact on gay people, issues like same-sex marriage, gay adoption, etc. I come to that conclusion when I take a look at their list, which includes people such as Robert George of Princeton, Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship, Alan Chambers of Exodus International, and various people associated with the National Organization for Marriage, including Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown, the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family. These are not no-name pastors or talk radio hosts.

GLAAD’s technique for discrediting these individuals is to cherry-picks quotes, Tweets, and activities, take them out of context, portray them in the worst light possible, and then allow the journalists they present the misinformation to to draw them own conclusions. For example, here’s what they have to say about Robert George, one of the intellectual leaders of the opposition to the gay policy agenda:

Described being gay as “beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.”

This is from an interreview at National Review Online, and is actually about the effects of the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s.

– Argued that gay relationships have “no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence.”

This is from the same interview, and is actually in reference to domestic partnerships: “Rather, it takes away the legal recognition of marriage — a comprehensive union of persons ordered to having and rearing a family (on procreation’s intrinsic link to marriage, see here and here) — and offers in its place legal recognition of a form of domestic partnership for romantic-sexual partners (in pairs for now, but that will not hold), be they same-sex or opposite-sex. Because these domestic partnerships are not actually marriages, despite the appropriation of the label; there is no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence that structure and help to define marriage as historically understood in our law and culture.”

– Suggested that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shouldn’t be considered a Catholic because by signing marriage equality into law, “he has made it clear that he simply does not believe what Catholicism teaches about sexual morality and marriage.”

Again from the same interview, and this is about Gov. Cuomo’s personal life and commitment to Catholic teaching. George says nothing about the marriage bill in this passage.

– Said marriage equality is “about sex,” not about love, commitment, and responsibility.

This is from an interview with The Witherspoon Society’s Public Discourse, and only the full quote will do:

PD: What is the struggle over the legal recognition of same-sex unions a struggle about? Is it about legal benefits? Or is it about something else?

George: It’s about sex. Those seeking to redefine marriage began by insisting that what they were fundamentally interested in was gaining needed benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Legal recognition of same-sex partnerships was necessary, they said, so that partners could visit each other in hospitals, extend employer-provided health insurance and other benefits to each other, and so forth. Some people who said this were, I’m sure, being sincere. Most, however, were not telling the truth. Their goal was to win official approbation for sodomy and other forms of sexual conduct that historically have been condemned as immoral and discouraged or even banned as a matter of law and public policy. The clear evidence for this is the refusal of most same-sex “marriage” activists to accept civil unions and domestic partnership programs under which the benefits of marriage are extended, but which do not use the label “marriage” or (and this is very important) predicate these benefits on the existence or presumption of a sexual relationship between the partners. So, it is not really about benefits. It is about sex. The idea that is antithetical to those who are seeking to redefine marriage is that there is something uniquely good and morally upright about the chaste sexual union of husband and wife—something that is absent in sodomitical acts and in other forms sexual behavior that have been traditionally—and in my view correctly—regarded as intrinsically non-marital and, as such, immoral.

You be the judge about whether he is right or wrong.

– Sits on the Board of an organization that supports and funds anti-Islam extremists.

This is irrelevant, as well being left-wing nonsense. George sits on the board of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has given grants to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and David Pipes’s Middle East Forum, all of which have been accused of being “anti-Islamic extremists” by people who are incapable of answering their arguments and evidence with regard to the threat Islamic extremism poses to the West both from without and within. What this has to do with George’s work on behalf of traditional marriage is anybody’s guess.

– Drafted the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders that “promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”

Readers of this blog know that I think the Manhattan Declaration is brilliant in its defense of Christian morality. It is also erudite, well-reasoned, and a powerful demonstration of just the kind of “expertise” that GLAAD supposedly wants to see out of the other side.

You get the point. GLAAD is going to smear these individuals to the press, in the hopes of getting the press to stop speaking to them or citing them as spokespersons for conservative values. And why not? In the gay rights movement, the right to society’s approval of your sexual behavior trumps even the right of others to engage in civil discourse about the issues of the day, much less their good reputations.

I don’t know how much of a national story this has been, but the Washington area has been all agog for the last week-and-a-half over an incident at a Catholic funeral. Seems that the deceased’s daughter, a woman by the name of Barbara Johnson, went to the priest who was presiding and informed him that she was a lesbian, then presented herself for Communion at the funeral and was refused. Various non-Catholic activists and journalists became instant experts on Catholic sacramental practice, and pronounced anathema on the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo for his lack of pastoral sensitivity in turning away a person he knew for a fact was living in mortal sin. Then it turned out that the woman in question is not only gay, but a practicing Buddhist. This raises a really big problem for the Big Thinkers, like one of the Washington Post‘s high powered reporters, Michelle Boorstein:

The story we’ve been covering in recent days about a Maryland priest who refused to give a lesbian Communion at her mother’s funeral has set off many sensitive, complicated subjects for Catholics. Who is eligible for Communion? What are the responsibilities of a priest? What’s the spiritual purpose of a funeral Mass?

Now the latest issue: Can you be a Catholic and practice Buddhism at the same time?

No. Next question.

The latter camp, of conservatives, has in recent days circulated an academic paper Johnson, 51, wrote in graduate school, in which she defined herself as a Buddhist. On her Web site, for an arts education program, she describes herself as “a student of many things, from Buddhist philosophy to nutrition and alternative medicine.” She does not mention Catholicism.

“She is not even a Roman Catholic any longer, yet she presented herself for Communion..” wrote blogger Rod Dreher on The American Conservative.

“Aside from her homosexuality, the woman is a non-Catholic, literally an apostate, and she complains about being denied Holy Communion and wants to get the priest fired,” writes

This really is an open-and-shut case, unless you live in Postland.

Johnson’s depiction of her own blending of the faiths, while infuriating to purists, appears to put her in the mainstream of American religion. One recent Pew poll on multiple religious practices shows 88 percent of white Catholics cite at least one non-Christian religion that they believe can lead to eternal life, a higher percentage than the number of black Protestants (81 percent) or white mainline Protestants (85 percent) who said so. The same survey also found that roughly a quarter of Americans believe in reincarnation and a similar number believe in yoga not just as exercise, but as a spiritual practice. Among Catholics, the number expressing these beliefs is 28 percent and 27 percent respectively.

Poll numbers are fascinating things. They can tell you a great deal about what people think, believe, and do. What they cannot do is tell you what the truth is. Let’s say that Boorstein is correct, that Johnson’s approach to religion puts “her in the mainstream.” So what? What has that got to do with Catholic sacramental practice? Last time I checked, Rome doesn’t consult with Pew before deciding how it should order the church’s sacramental life.

In fact, this seems to be something about Catholicism–and Christianity in general, properly understood–that American journalists don’t seem to get. It doesn’t matter what a majority think about Christian faith and practice. What matters is what God, Scripture, and (if one is Roman Catholic) what the magisterium of the church says.

Johnson’s depiction of her faith mirrors that even of some clergy, including famed Trappist monk Thomas Merton who embraced and deeply studied Buddhism before his death in the 1960s. More recently, two Episcopal priests — including a bishop — described themselves as followers of Christianity and other faiths, one of Zen Buddhism and one of Islam.

I’ll get back to Merton in a moment. As for the other two, Boorstein bringing them in is a real joke. You’ll remember Ann Holmes Redding, the Islamopalian priest from Seattle, and Kevin Thew Forrester, the Buddhapalian priest who was a candidate for the episcopacy for the diocese of Western Northern Michigan. Even within an ecclesiastical organization as corrupt and shot through with apostacy as the Episcopal Church, these two were over the line. Forrester was the first candidate for ECUSA’s episcopacy  since 1930 to be defeated, while Holmes Redding was defrocked by her bishop. Using them to demonstrate how “mainstream” Johnson is is like using mold as an example of vegetables because it’s green.

As for Merton, there are many things that could be said about his relationships to Buddhism. He respected it, he learned from it, he understood it, he wrote about it, he valued it for its true insights, he engaged in dialogue with Buddhists–but “embrace” usually suggests conversion, and that was a step he never took, nor, I suspect, would his Trappist order have been pleased if he had, given that Buddhism is atheistic and sees salvation as individual extinction rather than as personal deliverance from sin into the eternal presence of the living God. In fact, this article from Thomas Merton Society–which is glowingly positive about the interactions the monk had with Buddhism–would be appropriately quoted here:

Thus, religious dialogue for Merton was not a syncretism or an eclectic accumulation that ignored real differences in an attempt to create a universal religion (without specific roots).

Boorstein goes on to describe Johnson’s approach to Catholicism:

In her 20s, Johnson remembers her growing doubt about Catholic institutions as she wrestled with accepting her sexuality, and later as she watched the clergy sex abuse crisis unfold. She went to services in other Christian churches: Unitarian, Baptist, Episcopalian.

“During that time I found a lot of answers in Buddhist teachings and texts,” she said

Johnson says she never stopped seeing herself as a Catholic, and never stopped attended [sic] Mass or taking Communion – albeit not very regularly.

But no doubt orthodox Catholics would see this approach as a violation of their faith and challenge the idea that she could she seek Communion if she also sees herself as a Buddhist.

Well, yeah. Boorstein and Johnson seem to think that Catholicism–or Christianity–is like a rubber nose that one can shape and form as one pleases. Or like a recipe for beef stew–one can throw anything into the pot that tickles one’s palate, and it will still be beef stew as long as there’s a little bit of cow meat mixed in. They can believe that if they want, but there’s no reason I can think of why the Catholic Church should agree.

UPDATE: Forrester was defeated for the Northern Michigan bishop’s seat, not Western. Thanks to Chris Johnson for the heads-up, and for giving us Forrester’s full name in the comments.

Remember those questions your children asked when they were little? “Mommy, where do babies come from?” Remember how hard it was to formulate an answer to questions like that that were both truthful and yet didn’t get into details that the average pre-school rug rat really doesn’t need to know? Well, it seems that one intrepid author has solved your problem. According to The Blaze:

It’s inevitable that parents will someday be asked “Where do babies come from?” and/or “Where did I come from?” by their children. And now, there‘s a children’s book to help answer the question. But the book isn’t that simple — and not everyone is applauding it. Why? Because, as the the book’s author Cory Silverberg describes, not everyone has a “nice story” of “mommy + daddy + intercourse = you!”

With that in mind, Silverberg is creating a new book – “What Makes a Baby?” – for parents to “[acknowledge] the help we get to bring children into our lives.” The book will include information about the help parents can get to make a baby: “a doctor, fertility clinic, adoption or foster agency; it might be a turkey baster and a friend; it might be a sperm donor or a surrogate.”

Silverberg states that the 32-page, hard cover book will be geared toward children of pre-school age up to 8 years old. Here’s more information about the book, which will be illustrated by Canadian artist Fiona Smyth:

What Makes a Baby is written and illustrated to include all kinds of kids, all kinds of adults, and all kinds of families — regardless of how many people were involved, what the orientation, gender identity, or other make up of the family is, or how it came to be that way. It’s a social justice approach to sex education. Like all picture books, it’s meant to be read to a child and gives the adult reader the opportunity to fill in as much detail as they would like….

“All children deserve stories that teach them not only about how they are unique, but also about what connects them to all other humans.  What Makes a Baby tells that story without leaving some people out because of their gender, orientation, or family make up.”

Of course. What would a book about making babies be without including those who can’t? If pre-schoolers aren’t made aware of in vitro fertilization, surrogate gay motherhood, fertility drugs, and the whole panoply of modern scientific and sociological options, they might grow up stunted and homophobic. And if a child really is the product of the intersection of a “turkey baster and a friend,” wouldn’t he or she want to know about that?

This graphic contribution to the decline of Western civilization is a product of something called Kickstarter:

Financing for this book came through a non-traditional but increasingly popular means of funding. A site called Kickstarter, which has been used to fund endeavors such as “99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film” and “FrackNation” – both of which the Blaze has reported on — funds projects through donations by setting a dollar amount goal and a deadline. If that amount is reached through donations, the project moves forward. If the goal is not met within the proposed timeframe, all the donations are returned.

Now, in the interest of insuring that our children are fully informed on the whole baby thing, I think Kickstarter’s Silverberg’s next project needs to be What Unmakes a Baby, about the wonders of abortion. First graders can learn all about the various reasons mommies kill their kids before they’re born, and about the marvelous advances in modern science–menstrual extraction, suction aspiration, dilation and curettage, dilation and evacuation, etc.–that make it all possible.

(Via Stand Firm.)

UPDATE: Jason Huff has let me know in the comments that Kickstarter is not the problem, but rather that it is just a good fund-raising conduit that Silverberg used. My apologies to anyone associated with Kickstarter for suggesting that they are the problem here.

Lisa Miller, who isn’t really a journalist but plays one at Newsweek and the Washington Post, dons her White House advisor hat to instruct President Obama on how he should deal with the religious fanatics who have been plaguing him lately:

It seems far-fetched, from my perspective, to think that God should have any opinion at all about contraceptive technology, let alone about which corporate entity should pay for it. Yet that is the argument the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made last week. God doesn’t like birth control, they said. To force Catholic organizations to pay for birth control goes against God and so against the consciences of right-minded Catholics who believe in God.

That’s the way of the pseudo-journalist: don’t even try to understand, much less explain, the positions of those with whom you disagree; instead, make them into a caricature that can be sneered at and rendered unworthy of respect by the state.

The First Amendment protects the bishops’ rights to freely believe such things — to teach them in their parishes and in their schools, to say them out loud without fear of reprisal. That is a good thing. Yet last week, the furor over protecting the religious beliefs of that small minority grew so loud that the president blinked. He entered a negotiation on the bishops’ terms, over their so-called freedoms.

So now it isn’t about what the Roman Catholic Church–a world-wide organization of over a billion people–believes and teaches, or even what millions of faithful American Catholics believe and practice, even if imperfectly. It’s about a few hundred guys in fancy duds, and their concerns certainly can and should have been ignored by the White House.

In Washington, religious groups are interest groups. Just like the National Rifle Association or the farm lobby, the bishops want their priorities to take precedence over everyone else’s — and their clerical garb gives their position gravitas.

Religious groups are “interest groups.” That mention of freedom of religion in the First Amendment? Window dressing for the booboisie. The rights, concerns, and work of religious groups is actually no more consequential than that of the National Asparagus Association or the Pork Belly Council. Let ’em stand in line, or better yet they should pony up the piasters if they want the leader of the free world to listen to them. There’s an election coming, you know.

But in truth, the bishops’ claims to moral truth are just that — claims. Their religious vows do not make them, in any objective sense, more moral than anybody else. (And, to bring up a sore subject, the sex abuse scandals of a decade ago might force one to conclude that the moral compasses of a few American bishops are extremely out of whack.)

Last time I checked, the bishops–and their allies on this issue among evangelicals, liberal Catholics, Jews, and Muslims– were not basing their claim on any delusions about their moral superiority. (That would be Nancy Pelosi and friends, claiming that they and the HHS mandate are the only thing standing between women and chattel slavery.) And given that the bishops and their allies are basing their argument on the First Amendment, rather than any claims about their personal morality (lots of the people opposing the mandate even think birth control is hunky-dory), the gratuitous reference to the sex abuse scandal is not only irrelevant, but reprehensible.

The “religious freedom” argument, then, is a red herring, an election-year ploy to make the president look un-American.

You wonder whether people like Miller even bother to think about what their fingers are doing when they type this kind of drivel. Many, perhaps most, of the Catholic bishops supported Obama in the last election. They also supported the passage of Obamacare, with proper conscience safeguards. All kinds of liberals–including Joe Biden, for goodness sake–thought the mandate was a bad idea because of the First Amendment implications. Is the vice president trying to make his boss look bad? Is he in the habit of throwing up “red herrings” to prevent his boss from doing something he wants to do? You know, when Joe Biden is the voice of reason about anything, we know we’re in trouble.

Here, then, are some suggestions for the president as he enters these new culture wars.

●Have some moral backbone. By negotiating with zealots, you lose the high ground. By standing up to the zealots, you show them for what they are: zealots.

That’s right. Stand up to the loonies, and show the world what they really are. Joe Biden, E. J. Dionne, Kirsten Powers, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (J-CT), Sen Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV), heck, half or more of the American people–zealots, Neanderthals, sexists, the lot of them. The president shouldn’t even acknowledge their existence–it just dignifies them.

●Stress the record. This is the president, remember, who infuriated his base by inviting the anti-gay-marriage evangelical pastor Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration and who stood up in federal court to protect the National Day of Prayer.

Darn right. The Good Lord, whoever he/she/it is, knows that having Rick Warren pray at the inauguration more than trumps the hysterical First Amendment claims of a bunch of old men in dresses. (Rick Warren opposes the mandate, you say? When did he convert to Rome and get a pointy hat?)

As far as “the record” is concerned, is it really necessary to point out that this is the administration that just got its head handed to it by a unanimous Supreme Court for backing a view of the First Amendment that Chief Justice John Roberts called “remarkable” (as in remarkably wrong, or remarkably restrictive, or remarkably crabbed). Yeah, he should definitely stress that record.

Secularists do not see Obama as their guy in the White House.

That’s true. People like Barry Lynn of Americans United, whose view of the First Amendment sounds like something straight out of Pravda, think the only place religion should be protected is inside the individual’s skull, and the president may not agree with that.

●Tell a different religion story. It’s time to remind people that in a democracy citizens have to participate in activities they don’t like and sometimes pay for things they don’t believe in.

Taxpayer dollars have funded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of more than 6,000 U.S. service members and countless more civilians — and yet the conversation on the moral dimensions of these conflicts barely exists in the public sphere. My conscience tells me the death penalty is wrong, yet 58 people sit on federal death row, and some fraction of my federal tax dollars will inevitably contribute to their execution.

Miller demonstrates yet again that she doesn’t understand the issue. This isn’t about taxpayer dollars going to the government. It’s about the government forcing private organizations to give money to other private organizations (insurance companies) to pay for something that they believe is wrong.

Does the government spend my tax money in ways I don’t approve of? Of course–I doubt that there’s a single taxpayer in American who can’t agree with that, no matter what their politics are. But there’s a way to deal with that, and it’s by being politically active, voting the bums out, and changing the way the state spends our money. In addition, from the standpoint of moral responsibility, it isn’t me who is deciding to spend my money in immoral ways, and it isn’t me who is actually doing the spending.

That’s a completely different matter from being forced by the state to use my money to directly buy a product that I don’t want, and to do so under threat of a far greater amount of money being extracted from me as a penalty for refusing.

Obama made the Golden Rule the moral foundation of his 2008 campaign, and he has started to speak this way again. In his budget speech in Northern Virginia this week, he linked a sense of collective destiny to patriotism. “Here in America, the story has never been about what we can do just by ourselves; it’s about what we can do together.”

It is a difficult moment to convince Americans that they should care about their neighbors as much as themselves, but if anyone can make the case, this president has the rhetorical gifts to do so. He needs to use them.

And what that has to do with the HHS mandate beats the daylights out of me. But then, I’m not a pseudo-journalist getting paid by the Washington Post to offer political advice to the Obama re-election campaign.

Faithful America, a creation of the National Council of Churches  that lobbies for liberal political causes (but I repeat myself), has joined forces with inveterate publicity hound gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to try to get MSNBC to purify its precious bodily fluids airwaves by petitioning the Democratic Party propaganda outlet cable news network to stop having Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on its programs. According to FA:

On February 14, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson personally delivered our petition to MSNBC studios calling on the network to stop giving airtime to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council — a hate group that accuses gays and lesbians of child molestation.

The Family Research Council is so extreme that they’ve been officially listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But MSNBC has continued to invite their president, Tony Perkins, and other organizational spokespeople on air to comment on behalf of Christian voters. In fact, since FRC was designated a hate group in November 2010, Tony Perkins has appeared on MSNBC more often than any other network.

The complaint against FRC–that the SPLC has designated it a “hate group”–would mean more if the designation didn’t translate to “disagrees with us about the morality of homosexual behavior.” The SPLC has also designated the American Family Association, Mass Resistance, and the Traditional Values Coalition (groups that I don’t always agree with on a range of issues, and which sometimes say stupid things, but which are hardly “hate groups”) that way, as well as lumping them and the National Organization for Marriage and other legitimate conservative Christian groups in with crazies such as Westboor Baptist Church and Dove World Outreach Center (Rev. Terry Jones’ pathetic outfit). Once the FRC got the SLPC’s scarlet AG (“anti-gay”), Faithful America swung into action.

This is not a First Amendment issue, because MSNBC is under no obligation to give anyone time on its network. Nor is there anything wrong with FA and Gene Robinson expressing their distaste for Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. What’s galling is that once again, we have liberals who pose as apostles of tolerance and diversity demanding that a voice that disagrees with them be shut down. While they delivered their petition only to MSNBC, I imagine that it will eventually be going to any media outlet that dares to talk to a certified “hate group.” like the FRC. It is already rare to see a traditional Christian viewpoint on sexual morality in the mainstream media, and I have no doubt that FA’s intention is to ultimately have all such viewpoints banned. Of course, FA and its allies don’t actually recognize such views as being Christian, as their petition demonstrates:

The Family Research Council is a hate group, and journalists ought to treat it as such. MSNBC must stop inviting Family Research Council spokespeople on the air to represent the views of Christians and other people of faith.

Can’t have the audience of MSNBC thinking that there might actually be Christians who think that what Gene Robinson does and advocates might be, you know, sin. Of course, it may be that Tony Perkins would consider getting banned from MSNBC sort of an honor…

UPDATE: Forget to mention that I saw this item at Sojourners. Apparently inveterate publicity hound Jim Wallis and his colleagues agree with banning those who disagree with a position that Sojourners used to, at least in theory, adhere to.

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