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CPAC and Other Dark Messages from America’s “New” Conservative Religious Right: Part II
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 11:30
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Part I is located here.

The last days of February 2009 bore witness to the 36th annual Conservative Political Action Conference: a cavalcade of self-inflated caricatures dragging their lead balloons. Liberty Counsel’s president and general counsel Mat Staver was a pre-conference kick-off speaker. Mr. Staver is a staple at these sorts of events. He believes his efforts to make gay Americans permanent second-class citizens will free Christians from “persecution.”

On this occasion Mr. Staver “explained to the CPAC audience that ‘same-sex marriage sets forth a fatherless policy’ and [said] that you don’t need a bunch of scientific data to know that that is bad. After all, kids without fathers tend to fare poorly ... and if you need proof, all you have to do is take a look at the prison population.”

But that nonsense was the subject of Part 1 of this article…

While Mr. Staver was making his silly statements and advocating denying civil equality to gays and their families (as was his ideological compatriot in Colorado), another CPAC speaker was advocating making sure that every potential criminal has equal and unfettered access to a firearm. After all, “the guys with the guns make the rules”:

CPAC: If You Don't Have a Gun, You Have Nothing February 27, 2009 - 12:35pm
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre tells the CPAC audience that the 2nd Amendment is the foundation of all of our freedoms and that all rights and freedoms are nothing but “stains on a rotten piece of parchment paper in a museum somewhere” until they are “guarded by the blued steel and dry powder of a free and armed people.”
He also proclaims that he knows it is not politically correct to say so, but he doesn’t care “if their butts pucker from here to the Potomac, the Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules” …

“Gimme your wallet and jewelry or I’ll blow your fuckin head off!”

Yep. Those “guys with the guns” certainly do “make the rules.”

There were plenty more big shots firing with both barrels at CPAC:

CPAC: President Gingrich Makes His Entrance February 27, 2009 - 2:44pm
While every other speaker at CPAC made their entrance from the stage, Newt Gingrich got the presidential treatment. …
Gingrich entered from the back of the ballroom and spent three minutes making his way through the throng of well-wishers, hand-shakers, and supporters on his way to the stage while “Eye of the Tiger” blasted over the crowd. …

“Eye the Tiger”? How about “Record of a Discredited Politician”?

Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.

And what would a cavalcade of conservative caricatures be without these two, as reported by OneNewsNow, the propaganda organ of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association:

Obama in Coulter crosshairs at CPAC
WASHINGTON - The satirical political commentary of best-selling conservative author Ann Coulter proved to be one of the biggest attractions at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which wrapped up last night in Washington.
[Coulter] was introduced by former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who said Coulter has a “backbone of titanium.”
Coulter told the standing room-only crowd that President Barack Obama’s historic election victory over Republican John McCain in November was far less impressive than the media and liberals have portrayed it to be.
“Obama had the mainstream media, the entire European Union and Oprah on his side. In fact, in a poll taken in Germany during the election, it showed that 80% of the German people supported Obama over McCain. And we all know how infallible the Germans are at picking great leaders,” she joked.
Coulter later added that Obama beating McCain is “the equivalent of George Foreman in his prime beating Helen Thomas in the twelfth round on a technical knockout.” …

You remember Tom DeLay (aka “The Hammer”), the former Republican House Majority Leader. In December 2002, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman reported that DeLay, one of Washington's “most feared and bare-knuckled partisans,” had openly admitted he was “on a mission from God to promote a ‘biblical worldview’ in American politics.”

Mr. DeLay resigned from his leadership position in 2005 following his indictment on conspiracy charges. Click here to view his arrest warrant. How appropriate that he should introduce Ann Coulter, who makes her living mocking others and corrupting intelligent political discourse with ludicrous, self-serving assertions.

And speaking of corrupting intelligent political discourse with ludicrous assertions, an online video ad sponsored by The Family Policy Council of West Virginia depicts marriage equality supporters as snipers targeting “traditional families”:

The entire ad can be seen here. To suggest same-sex couples and their children somehow threaten “traditional families” is an unconscionable lie and a shameful scare tactic. But you do have to wonder what Mr. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA would say about this conservative “Christian” group’s ad.

California’s Proposition 8 and the campaign to pass it clearly demonstrated that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a previously unheralded partner in the “new” conservative Religious Right. The Mormons put a lot of time and money into revoking the civil right of same-sex couples in California, and they’re currently gearing up in Illinois:

Mormon Machine Working Against Civil Unions in Illinois Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The following official email was just sent out (via the LDS Church website) to all the members of the Nauvoo 3rd Ward, as approved by Kristy Combs, ward website administrator, and by Bishop Chris Church of the Nauvoo 3rd Ward. (Because it was sent through the LDS website, it required the authorization of a bishop or higher.) …

But the day after that article appeared, this one did:

Mormon church says bishop acting alone in civil union fight 03.05.2009
(Chicago, Illinois) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that an Illinois bishop was acting alone in sending an e-mail to members of his ward urging them to oppose a civil union bill before the state legislators.
The e-mail, sent to at least one LDS ward in Illinois, was authorized by Bishop Chris Church of the Nauvoo, Illinois, 3rd Ward, and was sent out by that website’s ward administrator.
It urges members of the church to call their local legislators and tell them to oppose the bill. The e-mail claims that civil unions would “empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise.”  It goes on to also claim that “it will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores.” …

[On] Thursday, the LDS Church’s National Public Affairs Office said the e-mail was not part of a coordinated effort by the Mormon Church but an isolated act. Still, it did not rule out future involvement if the civil union bill appears to gain support in the legislature. “As is widely known, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in the sanctity of traditional marriage,” the LDS statement said. 

“The Church has not taken a position on any legislation currently being considered by the Illinois State Legislature. The Church did not send an e-mail to its members in regards to House Bill 2234, although a false report to the contrary has been circulated. An e-mail was sent from a local Illinois church leader to his congregation – one of 129 congregations in the state – who was free to express his own views.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) had this to say about the Illinois e-mail:

“The messaging in the e-mail carries many of the same bigoted lies that were hallmarks of the LDS Church’s campaign in support of Proposition 8 in California and Proposition 102 in Arizona,” according to an HRC press release. “The e-mail misleads citizens in Illinois by blatantly misstating that the civil unions legislation would ‘empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise.’ It goes on to issue this incendiary and inaccurate warning: ‘It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores.’”
“It is irrefutably clear that the LDS Church is fighting an antigay crusade throughout the nation, targeting any form of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” said Bruce Bastian, a member of HRC's board of directors and a former member of the LDS Church. “Church leaders want nothing more than to do their hateful work in secrecy, but the time has come to shine a light on their insidious efforts. If the LDS Church won't tell the truth, we will.”

Given how tightly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is controlled, it’s a bit difficult to believe a rogue bishop “was acting alone in sending an e-mail to members of his ward urging them to oppose a civil union bill before the state legislators.” It seems much more plausible that LDS was testing the waters after some less than flattering PR:

Direct Evidence Mormon Church Violated Tax Exempt Status Friday, January 30, 2009
On November 3, 2008, ProtectMarriage.com received a contribution of $30,354.85 from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You read that right. The Mormon Church donated more than $30 thousand dollars to eradicate the right of same-sex couples to marry. This is clear evidence, with a paper trail showing the Church and their personal financial contribution.
See the filing here.

A day later this item appeared:

More 'Revelations' For the Mormon Church Tax Scandal
Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

The report, filed with the secretary of state’s office, listed a variety of California travel expenses for high-ranking members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and included $20,575 for use of facilities and equipment at the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters and a $96,849 charge for “compensated staff time” for church employees who worked on matters pertaining to Prop. 8.

The Mormon church had been under investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failure to report its contributions as required by law. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Fred Karger, of Californians Against Hate.

Then came a “confession”:

Mormon Church admits it spent 100 times more for Prop 8 than reported 02.02.2009
(San Francisco, California) Six weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has admitted that it spent nearly $188,000 more on the campaign to approve Proposition 8 that it had initially stated. …

And then things got even worse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Prominent Mormons Reimbursed for Prop 8 February 3, 2009
In what is now being called Mormon Gate by Californians Against Hate, the LDS church finds itself embroiled in a new scandal every day over their social, and financial involvement in banning same-sex marriage in California.

All this may be the tip of the iceberg as new reports indicate the following people, and probably more to follow were allegedly reimbursed by the church.

 Lawrence Research (Gary Lawrence, Mormon pollster and Meridian contributor): $528,877.35 -- Eagle Foundation (a Mormon PAC set up by Bart Marcois and David Parker): $135,912.76 --Glen Greener (former Salt Lake City Police Commissioner, Meridian contributor, and now a GOP operative and sometime Cali property developer): $50,236.42 --Sonja Brown (Protectmarriage.com communications director): $41,844.00 --Zion Multimedia Corp.: $2,000.00 --Rob Wirthlin: $768.18

The full list of those who contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign can be viewed here courtesy of California’s public records law. …
Interestingly, it appears that at least some holier-than-thou Mormons who may have donated to the Yes on 8 campaign or at least approved of their Church’s involvement in “protecting the sanctity of marriage” were also involved in other things:
Utah the USA’s Online Porn Capital March 04, 2009
Utah not only led the charge with donations to pass California’s gay marriage ban – the state also leads the pack with the highest level of online pornography usage. In fact, traditionally “red” states fill out the top three spots. Alaska is close behind, followed by Mississippi. California is way down the list at number 39.
People in the 27 states banning gay marriage boast 11 percent more porn subscribers than states which don’t specifically restrict same-sex marriage. …
(The nationwide study was conducted by Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School and published in the American Economic Association’s Journal of Economic Perspectives. You can read the complete study here.)

But such results should not come as a surprise since, according to Mormon beliefs, “God” is as flesh-and-blood as you and me, and even though he lived on planet Kolob, he was able to pop in and have sexual intercourse with Mary, resulting in her pregnancy and (illegitimate?) child, Jesus. From “What Does Mormonism Teach?”:

God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
“The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s...” (D&C 130:22).
God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! … We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
God the Father had a Father, (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 476; Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 19; Milton Hunter, First Council of the Seventy, Gospel through the Ages, p. 104-105).
God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428).
God had sexual relations with Mary to make the body of Jesus, (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, 1857, p. 218; vol. 8, p. 115). - This one is disputed among many Mormons and not always ‘officially’ taught and believed. Nevertheless, Young, the 2nd prophet of the Mormon church taught it.
“Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones.” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).

And a “Church” based on these rather odd beliefs has the audacity to campaign against loving monogamous couples’ civil right to a civil marriage?

It seems the “conservative movement” hasn’t moved at all. It’s still attached at the hip to the radical Religious Right, and both are an insult to rational political discourse.

To be sure, a healthy dialogue between different political points of view is necessary, but that’s not what’s happening in America, 2009. Both sides of the marriage issue are entrenched. One side claims same-sex couples have a basic civil right to the state-sanctioned civil institution called “marriage.” The other side claims gays do not have that civil right to the state-sanctioned civil institution called “marriage” because homosexuality and homosexual unions offend “God.”

Is compromise possible?

In early February 2009 The New York Times ran an OpEd by David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and the author of The Future of Marriage, and Jonathan Rauch, guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and author of Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America. The OpEd was titled “A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage.” They proposed that “Congress … bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage.”

Is that a compromise, or just the latest version of “separate but equal”: a social experiment formerly known as “segregation,” a bone thrown to second-class citizens to keep them in their place?

Either all Americans are equal or they’re not. Kate Harding, in an article for Salon.com’s Broadsheet, pointed out some of the other flaws in the Blankenhorn/Rauch proposal and noted that:

Other bloggers have already taken down Blankenhorn and Rauch’s proposal better than I ever could, so I’ll leave you with their words. Pam Spaulding writes, “The flawed premise of this op-ed is that both sides of the issue have equal power; that’s illogical. The side on the status quo in this case holds the power and doesn't want to cede any of it, obviously, because it sees that granting the power of civil equality is threat to its vision of the country and the existence of marriage as they understand it. The side of social change always has the uphill battle, and the law leads, not follows the people when it is a contentious issue.” And Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof sums it up: “[T]his idea has ‘separate but equal’ written all over it, and I think we have a pretty good idea in this country how well that theory of social engineering has worked in the past.”

Dr. John Corvino, professor of philosophy at Wayne State University, in his article “Why gay couples are like straight couples” looked at the Blankenhorn/Rauch proposal and “a counter-proposal from Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis at the conservative website thepublicdiscourse.com.” Professor Corvino came to the inevitable conclusion:

The problem is that Anderson and Girgis divide couplings into two crude categories: (1) married (or marriageable) heterosexuals, and (2) everyone else: committed gay couples, elderly sisters, cohabiting fly-fishing buddies, what have you. They then implausibly suggest that those in column two are all of equal social value.

As David Link writes at the Independent Gay Forum, “The authors of this proposal are quite honest that they find it impossible to view same-sex couples in the category of marriage. But if these are the two categories offered: aging sisters or married couples, I’m betting more Americans who don’t already have an opinion, would view same-sex couples as more like the married couples than the sisters. With apologies to the traditionalists, the days when a majority of Americans simply closed their eyes to the loving – and sexual – relationships of same-sex couples are coming to an end.”

As they should.

Either all Americans have equal access to the same state-sanctioned civil institution called “marriage,” or they don’t.

Do the Founding Fathers’ promises and principles of civil equality for all guide America, or does the inherently divisive, concocted dogma of organized religion?

Smoke and mirrors aside, it really is that simple.
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