Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ten top lies fundamentalists tell about America.

A Right-wing group, that likes to pretend that the rights of fundamentalists are being violated all over the place, simply for believing in Jesus, has released a list of their top ten violations of said rights in the last year. So how bad was it? Here is their list, their claims and some facts. I will try to reveal the facts as best I can find them. Bu, our conservative friends, who wrote this hyperbole, don’t link to a single source for any of their claims.

10 Pro-life Pastor Reverend Walter Hoye of Oakland, CA was jailed for exercising peaceful, pro-life speech.

Facts: First, Rev. Hoye (no need for the double use of titles meaning pretty much the same thing) was not jailed simply for exercising speech as depicted here. Even a Christian publication’s description gives more information that mitigates the so-called violation of rights. The context was that Christian groups had been engaged in a very long-term harassment of women entering an abortion clinic. The form of harassment varied from time to time.

Because of the constant harassment a city law said that protesters needed to stay a total of 8 feet away from women entering the clinic. Hoye was not arrested for his speech, that claim is entirely false; he was arrested for getting closer to the women than 8 feet. If an ex-husband harasses his wife she can get a restraining order requiring him to stay X feet away from her. If he comes closer than that, he is violation of the order—even if he is reciting the Declaration of Independence at the time. Imagine that this, patriotic, ex-husband gets too close under the restraining order. He will be arrested and he can’t claim it was because of his speech. It was for being too close to someone he had been harassing.

Rev. Hoye was not arrested for speech, but for getting too close to people who had been harassed previously. Whether the law is a good one is open to debate. I don’t see it as a major issue as it does not prevent speech; it merely sets boundaries between people who are likely to get into fights. At worst, it is a minor violation since Hoye's “speech” would be just as effective at 8 feet, as at 7 feet. To say the arrest was about speech is dishonest.

Second, they said he was sentenced to jail. True—sort of. He was given 30 days for this violation but told that in lieu of prison time he can do community service.

9 Rev. Fred Winters was murdered while preaching in his pulpit in Maryville, Illinois.

Response: It is awful when anyone is murdered. It is presumptuous, however, to assume that any Christian who is killed, is murdered because he is a Christian. It depends on the facts of the case, not merely on the fact that someone was killed. So, we need to look at the facts. Police say, the killer "came armed with many rounds of ammunition and a knife, and I think we can surmise that more bloodshed may have occurred.”

Terry Sedlacek entered a Baptist church in Maryville, Illinois. He had a gun and a knife. He shot the pastor and stabbed two members of the congregation. He had planned the attack and called it “death day.” He had thirty rounds of ammunition and only failed to kill many more because his gun jammed. News reports say no motive was known. Friends and family say Sedlacek was always mentally disturbed. His mother said his problems started in high school. He was declared unfit to stand trial due to his mental condition.

There is no evidence Sedlacek was intending to kill people because they were Christians. He did seem bent on a mass killing and went someplace where a lot of people congregate—hence the reason they are called a congregation. It makes no more sense to say Sedlacek was killing people because they were Christians—because they were in a church—than it does to say that the mass killer at a mall in Salt Lake City executed people because he didn’t like shoppers. There is zero evidence to support the claim

8. HBO’s program "Curb Your Enthusiasm" aired an episode where the main actor urinates on painting of Jesus. When confronted HBO would not apologize.

Even the somewhat crazy far-Right pundit Brent Bozell has a more thorough description of the scene. He describes it this way: “David’s character takes some drug that causes him to urinate wildly and, while using the bathroom at a co-worker's house, urinates on a painting of Jesus hanging on a wall next to the toilet. His co-worker then believed the portrait was a miracle—a weeping Jesus. Even this show’s fans think David should take his bigotry elsewhere in 2010.”

Actually, given the tendency of some people to find miracles in bizarre places like taco shells, there is a certain humor to this. But Bill Donohue, a Right-wing Catholic says: “Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it’s comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother?” Since, no one would mistake a wet stain on David’s mother’s photo as evidence of a supernatural event—then no, it wouldn’t be funny. The humor requires the claim of a supernatural event.

The description makes it sound like an intentional event in the show. The show depicts it as an accident and the interpretation of the results is what gives the incident some humor. At best this description is an inaccurate representation of the facts. The humor was directed more at the people who line up before “weeping icons” or "face" of Jesus on tree bark, than it was at Christians per se. Most Christians don’t go in for that sort of bizarre, unrealistic interpretation of events. If this is one of the top ten attacks on Christians in 2009. they had a pretty good year.

7. The overt homosexual participation in Obama's presidential inaugural events by “Bishop” Vickie Eugene Robinson, the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington D. C., and a homosexual marching band.

Now, they are just getting into coo-coo land. How is allowing a gay minister, and the gay chorus and band, to participate in the inauguration, an attack on Christians? This reveals too much about the bigotry of the group making this list. They seem to think that the mere presence of gay people is as attack on them. Thus, the only way for them not to be attacked is to force gay people out of public view. This is not an example of an attack on Christians. It is an example of an attack on gays by Christians.

Notice the scare quotes around the word bishop, as if Bishop Gene Robinson is not really a bishop. Now, I don’t put any stock in that title, anymore than I do in reverend. But Bishop Robinson is a legitimate bishop. Pastor Hoye is described with a double, redundant honorific title while Bishop Robinson has his ordination as bishop put in scare quotes.

6. Police called to East Jessamine Middle School in Lexington, Kentucky to stop 8th graders from praying during their lunch break for a student whose mother was tragically killed.

I find a lot of Christian sites repeating this claim. I’m having trouble finding any facts that verify this story at all, or give any context to it. The Jessamine Journal lists their top local stories of the year. And this doesn’t make the list, even though it would be more substantial than what does make the list.

The closest I come to a verifiable news report, as opposed to rumors regurgitated by people with an agenda, is this story from KETK news. In that story students were praying during their lunch hour. When lunch hour ended they just kept praying. The superintendent of the school says, “administrators had no problem with the kid’s praying. They say their concern was that the students would be late for class.” According to this news report the police were not called and no threat of arrest was made.

If this news report is correct, the real story is quite different from what was claimed. Consider a lunch hour at school, where two students play chess. Lunch hour ends but the two keep playing. They are told to stop and return to class. Does that make the teachers or administrators anti-chess?

5. Pro-life activist Jim Pullion was murdered in front of his granddaughter's high school for showing the truth about abortion.

There is no indication that Pullion was targeted for being a Christian—none. The killer was a man named Harlan Drake, who that day decided to kill three different people. He did kill two of them. Pullion was on Drake’s list because Drake thought that the large photos of aborted fetuses, that Pullion was showing school children, was unsuitable for children. Another man was killed merely because Drake held a grudge against him. The third man, James Howe, a real estate agent, wasn’t killed because Drake was arrested. In other words, there is not one shred of evidence this was about Christianity.

Family of the killer says he was mentally depressed and taking psychoactive drugs to control it. The family said they don’t believe the killings were any kind of “political statement. The courts said Drake was mentally incompetent to stand trial and sent him to the State Department of Mental Health.

4. An activist judge ordered a home school mom in New Hampshire to stop home schooling her daughter because the little girl “reflected too strongly” her mother’s Christian faith.

Once again the list leaves out any verifiable information. There was a case, somewhat similar to what is described here, but this description leaves out some important facts, if this is the case they are speaking about. And it appears it is.

Brenda Voydatch and Martin Kurowski were divorced parents of a 10-year-old girl. Voydatch wanted the child home-schooled. Kurowski wanted her to attend a school, saying her mother deprived her of socialization opportunities. In this dispute over child rearing by two parents, the court asked a guardian ad litem to investigate. That was done and this individual sided with the father in this case. The guardian ad litem mentioned the small girl’s rigidity of beliefs as reflecting the mother’s. That was enough for the Christianists to leap on it.

Kurowski’s attorney, Elizabeth Donovan, says the “the ruling was based on the girl’s isolated learning environment, and not on her mother’s religion.” Donovan also notes that Kurowski never complained about the mother taking the daughter to church. This was purely about education and socialization, not religion. Donovan said: “When two parents with joint decision-making responsibility disagree and they cannot come to any common ground, we submit it the court.” Once again the incident isn’t what it was portrayed to be. And this was the 4th worst incident against Christians—ah, if all persecuted groups only it had it that good.

3. The Federal Department of Homeland Security issued a report entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate" that labeled conservative Christians extremists and potential terrorists.

When this report was released, it was soundly condemned, but it was about Right-wing extremists in general, not Christians. Certainly at the time, none of the bitching I read mentioned it as targeting people for being Christians. Fox News, which would be biased in favor of the views of Christian conservatives, had an article about the incident, at the time. There is no mention of Christianity in their report. Apparently, like me, they missed the anti-Christian aspect that is now being claimed. Similarly the right-wing Washington Times, run by conservatives funded by the Unification Church, reported this story but didn’t see any anti-Christian sentiments either.

2. President Obama's appointment of radical anti-Christians like homosexual activist Kevin Jennings as the "safe school czar;" pro-abortion advocate Kathleen Seblius made Secretary of Human and Health Services, and Chai Feldblum, pro-homosexual and anti-religious liberty judge nominated for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What is meant by “radical anti-Christians?” I suggest that what they mean is that anyone who opposes their political agenda is anti-Christian. They don’t actually mean that these people express antichristian viewpoints. Kevin Jennings has been attacked, with repeated exaggerated or false statements by the religious right, merely because he is gay. That is enough.

Anyone who opposes the theocratic worldview of the Religious-right is automatically attacked as antichristian. The two are not the same thing. I’ve known many Christians who oppose those viewpoints but who are rabidly pro-Christian. I oppose Christianity because I think it a false system of belief. I would oppose it whether it held my political viewpoints or not. Other people like Christianity, but dislike the Religious-Right. All these theocrats are doing is intentionally confusing categories to try to make it look as if anyone who opposes their big government, moralism is really anti-Christian. That is just wrong.

1. The Federal Hate Crimes Bill that attacks religious liberty and freedom of speech. For the first time in our history ministers are vulnerable to investigation and prosecution for telling the truth about homosexuality.

This is simply a false representation of the law. Even though I oppose the law in question I can’t accept this distortion of it. The law in question adds penalties to actual attacks against others if they are motivated by hate. It does not criminalize the hate, nor does it investigate people for preaching sermons. If a rabid, lunatic fundamentalist preached hated for weeks on end, he is not open to investigation. If he kills someone, then it may be argued his was a hate crime and the penalty is made more severe. But he must first attack another person before it kicks in.

The speech is used to prove the hateful nature of a crime after the crime has been committed. But the speech itself is not a crime.


If these are the top ten incidents of anti-Christian attacks in America then Christians have it pretty damn good. I don’t think a single one of these really qualifies as an attack on Christianity. That these people do shows they have adopted the “victim” strategy used so dishonestly by the Left for years. Here they are twisting facts in order to prove that the non-existent does really exist—much as they do with their deity. It would be far more accurate to call this list: Ten Top Lies that the Religious Right Tells About Life in America. When I began my investigation I assumed that one or two of the claims would pan out to some degree that gave them legitimacy. I was actually surprised to find that none of them do.

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