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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for March, 2010

Don Wildmon Steps Down From AFA

Jim Burroway

March 3rd, 2010

According to a press release from the American Family Association, Donald Wildmon, the AFA’s chairman has resigned due to an illness. From August to November of last year, Wildmon battled St. Louis encephalitis from a mosquito bite. He also underwent surgery for cancer on his left eye. His son, Tim Wildmon, is expected to take over as head of the AFA.

The elder Wildmon will continue to work at AFA, but according to the press release he “will not have a leadership role.” His son has had a prominent role at the AFA for quite some time, and with his father’s presence still around, I wouldn’t expect too many changes.

Huckabee, Bauchmann, McClintock To Speak At Conference Featuring Hate Group

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2009

Former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN), and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA are confirmed speakers at the upcoming Take America Conference in St. Louis September 25 and 26. This same conference invited MassResistance to give a workshop titled “How to counter the homosexual extremist movement,” presumably on of the strength of their resounding successes in Massachusetts.

MassResistance is one of only eleven anti-gay groups designated as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. MassResistance has developed closes ties with Holocaust Revisionist Scott Lively, where he was a featured speaker at the MassResistance banquet last January. Conference connections to hate groups don’t end with MassResistance. Host committee member Don Feder spoke at the 2007 Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia. The Watchmen, another SPLC-designated hate group, was also co-founded by Scott Lively.

The Take America Back conference is co-chaired by Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum) and Janet Folger Porter (Faith2Action). Other host committee members include LaBarbera Award Winners Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel) and Rick Scarborough (Vision America), as well as Don Wildmon (American Family Association) Dick Bott (Bott Radio Network), Michael Farris (Home School Legal Defense Association), Phillip Jauregui (Judicial Action Group), Rick Green (Wallbuilders), and Joseph Farah (WorldNetDaily).

AFA Steamed Over Campbell Soup Ad

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2008

The Campbell Soup Company is running an ad in the Advocate featuring a child with two mommies. The ads for Swanson’s broth ran in the December 2008 and January 2009 issues. This has the American Family Association boiling:

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.

They appear particularly upset that the ads featured a homosexual family:

“Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money,” writes AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon in an email alert, “but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support.”

They are a family. What other term would Wildmon propose we use to describe two parents and a son? A pack maybe?

Wildmon is calling on his followers to call Campbell soup to complain. This is typically the first step to one of his boycotts. Campbell appears to be pretty resolute though:

A spokesperson for Campbell’s, however, explained that the advertisements are simply an attempt to reach a wide audience. “Campbell’s has been in business since 1869,” spokesperson Anthony Sanzio told WND. “For more than century people from all walks of life have enjoyed our products. We will continue to try to appeal to all people in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them.”

Newsweek Essay Draws Howls of Protest

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2008

Anti-gay activists are pulling their hair out over Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek, in which she lays out a religious case for same-sex marriage. She opens her essay by saying, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”

As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with one particular segment of Christianity. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Focus on the Family Board of Directors, wrote:

Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda [of allowing same-sex marriage] is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.”

That was one of the calmer reactions. Tony Perkins of the Family “Research” Council denounced it as “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.” The Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association called it “one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by any major news organization.” Not surprisingly, he also is calling on his followers to inundate Newsweek with emails.

And Peter LaBarbera, not one to be outdone, called the essay a “scandalous hit piece” and an “embarrassing attempt to make a Biblical case for sodomy-based ‘marriage.'” (See why we have an award named in his honor?) And Peter’s pal, Matt Barber responded, “You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel.”

Part of the outrage stems from the fact that anti-gay activists have tried for years to couch their opposition to same-sex marriage on sociological research to make their point — research that, as we have pointed out many times, they have distorted with amazing consistency. But by calling on science instead of the Bible, they seek to inoculate themselves from charges of trying to impose their religious views on others. “See? We’re not religious zealots. Science supports us,” they like to say. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, repeated this line in saying, “The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage.” And Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, claimed, “We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”

But when they are talking among themselves, religious arguments are firmly at the fore, whether it’s LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking of the “central doctrine of eternal marriage” or Richard Land himself explaining with an apparently straight face that what he calls the global warning “hoax” is simply due to “cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos.” Neither of these positions sound very scientific to me.

But the religious face is not the public face that these religiously-motivated leaders want to present. And by having to respond to Lisa Miller’s essay, they are forced to publicly defend the religious basis for their beliefs, which annoys a few of them to no end.  Watch how Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse pivots when asked about the Newsweek essay:

“Beyond the Scriptural distortion, the article distorts the pro-marriage and pro-family movement that is solidly grounded on sociological research about family structures that contribute to the well-being of women and children.”

She then goes on to mischaracterize what “experts agree.”

But the other part of the outrage also seems clearly aimed at someone who really did intrude onto their home turf. After all, in the same-sex marriage debates, only one small group of Christians are presumed to be allowed to use the Bible — when they think nobody else is looking. Anti-gay activists behave as though the Bible is solely their possession and no one else’s — including other Christians who read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It’s okay for anti-gay opponents to turn outside their own sphere of authority — science — to make their point. But now that Lisa Miller has taken them on in their own home turf, they’ve let loose with their persecution complex and complained that they– and by extension all of Christianity, since they presume to speak for all Christians — have been “attacked.” 

Which reminds me of a great and appropriate graphic making its way around the Internet:

Having a Cow Over McDonalds

Jim Burroway

April 10th, 2008

Ed Brayton is thinking about starting a weekly award “for the most ridiculously hyperbolic rhetoric I come across.” Ed might want to think daily. Anyway, he thinks that anti-gay rhetoric alone will provide plenty of fodder, although that’s not strictly his beat. He was checking out the personal blog of Rick Pearcey, husband of Nancy Pearcey of the Discovery Institute. That’s where Ed found this little gem:

Not today, in light of reports that McDonald’s has decided, apparently, to declare war on my family. And to declare war on the civilization of liberty, independence, creativity, and humanity under God that my Dad fought for in World War II.

What did McDonald do the “declare war” on liberty, independence, humanity, World War II, and Ricky Pearcey’s family?

Well it turns out he gets his “news” from the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow:

McDonald’s … has given a significant amount of money, I might mention, to become a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce,” Wildmon explains. “Among the many other things that the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce promotes is hate crimes [legislation], the ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act]. [T]hey’re dedicated to pushing the homosexual agenda.”

In exchange for the donation, a McDonald’s senior executive has been placed on the board of the pro-homosexual group. Wildmon says the chain’s decision is baffling

Wildmon is apoplectic, and so is Pearcy. Brayton found this reaction particularly noteworthy:

For human beings, this is a matter of liberty under God — Why help finance groups that turn their backs on the Declaration of Independence, the Founding vision, and the living Creator who holds it all together?

Run for the hills everyone! World War II was all in vain.

Mike Huckabee and the Christian Reconstructionists

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2007

Gov. Mike HuckabeeIt’s been widely reported that former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee flew down to Houston earlier this week for a fundraiser hosted by Steven Hotze. In today’s column, Robert Novak identified Steven Hotze as “a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement.” According to Novak, that fundraiser’s host committee had an unusual make-up:

State Rep. Debbie Riddle was the only elected official on the host committee, most of whose members were not familiar names in Texas politics. David Welch is executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council. Jack Tompkins heads a firm providing Internet services to the Christian community. Entrepreneur J. Keet Lewis is an active Southern Baptist.

A better-known committee member was Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America. In endorsing Huckabee on Nov. 1, Scarborough said, “I acknowledge that Huckabee is not the perfect candidate” but one “who will listen to wise counsel.”

According to Novak — who is not exactly a flaming liberal himself — until Huckabee’s problems with his fellow Southern Baptists had been that they didn’t think he was conservative enough! A pretty amazing assessment given his many statements on AIDS and homosexuality which have come to light recently (and which Huckabee has refused to back away from, a move which earned him a LaBarbera Award). But as strident as his pronouncements may be, they hadn’t been orthodox enough to fully satisfy the Christian Reconstructionists. But now that he’s receiving donations from them, it looks like things have changed between them.

For those who don’t know, Christian Reconstructionists are the guys who want to replace civil law with Biblical law, which makes them the Christian equivalent to Muslims who advocate for Sharia law. To give you an idea of what these people are about, the Cato Institute posted a snippet of a 1986 statement that was signed by Steven Holtze:

We affirm that the Bible is not only God’s statements to us regarding religion, salvation, eternity, and righteousness, but also the final measurement and depository of certain fundamental facts of reality and basic principles that God wants all mankind to know in the sphere of law, government, economics, business, education, arts and communication, medicine, psychology, and science. All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true, right, and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible.

This statement is virtually identical to some of the messages presented by American pastors at the most recent Watchmen On the Walls conference last November. Other signatories to the statement include D. James Kennedy, Tim LaHaye, George Rekers, Don Wildmon, and R.J. Rushdoony.

Rushdoony is considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism. His 1973 book, The Institutes of Biblical Law, serves as a foundational document for Christian Reconstructionists. In the Institutes, Rushdoony called for the replacement of civil law with Biblical Law, including the legalization of slavery (because the Bible approves of it) stoning as punishment for a long list of Biblical offenses including homosexuality (because the Bible calls for it). Rushdoony defended these beliefs right up until his death in 2001. Scarborough recently declared that his is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but “a Christocrat.”

Huckabee recently told an audience at Liberty University that God was responsible for his recent rise in the polls. And we’ve noted before that Huckabee has been voicing a rather strange theology lately. Does that theology now include theonomy and the Christian Reconstructionist theology of those whose support he’s seeking?

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Family Impact Summit “Attendance Less Than Hoped”

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2007

The American Family Association’s OneNewsNow reports on the dismal turnout for last weekend’s “Family Impact Summit” held in Brandon, Florida. The final tally was only about half of what they had hoped to achieve:

By Friday evening, just over 100 people had registered to hear speakers that included Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Southern Baptist leader Richard Land, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon.

A workshop on grass roots activism drew a handful of people — and one was a spy, an activist for Americans United for Separation of Church and State researching the opposition.

Well, there was more than just that one “spy” there. There was also Cathy James, whose calm and measured demeanor brought low the mighty during a question and answer session. And of course, there was yours truly.

Family Impact Summit

But I can vouch for the low turnout, especially during the morning and afternoon sessions. It often felt as if there were more volunteers, exhibitors and speakers milling around than actual attendees. Only during the evening hours would the audience swell to three hundred or so. On the last night of the event, the turnought might have approached four hundred to hear the much-anticipated stars of the event, Ken Blackwell and Tony Perkins. By the way, the evening events were generally free of charge to the public.

I often overheard a few speakers and volunteers grumble about the attendance during breaks and over dinner. The disappointments weren’t limited to this event either. A few complained about how difficult it was to get a decent turnout at even larger, better funded and more heavily advertised events as well.

Is this a harbinger for things to come?

“Value Voters” Presidential Debate

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2007

Mark your calenders. Here’s a presidential debate you won’t want to miss:

A Values Voter Presidential debate will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, September 17th at 7:30 p.m. The majority of the Republican candidates have confirmed their attendance at the event.

The venue is in Ft. Lauderdale, home of mayor Jim “Robo-Toilet” Naugle. The press release doesn’t say which candidates will attend, but the Value Voter Debate web site tells us who’ll be asking the questions:

Questions will come from 40 of our nation’s leaders including: Paul Weyrich, founder and President of the Free Congress Foundation, Phyllis Schlafly, founder and President of Eagle Forum, Don Wildmon, founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, Judge Roy Moore, with the Foundation for Moral Law, Rick Scarborough, Vision America, and Mat Staver of Liberty Council

Sounds like a perfectly lovely evening.