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Posts for June, 2014

Rick Perry: Ooops. I Did It Again.

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2014

Rick Perry’s comments last week comparing gays and lesbians to alcoholics has elicited quite a few headslaps and groans across the political spectrum. Sane people see it as just another example of Texas-style ignorance and insanity, and even some Texas Republicans are wishing that he hadn’t opened his big mouth. And few are trying to step away from the recently-approved Texas GOP platform endorsing sexual orientation change therapy. All of this has threatened to derail that re-boot of the Republican Brand ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections. Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri, in particular, sees the danger:

But he did address the inclusion of reparative therapy in the platform, saying he doesn’t believe you can convert a LGBT individual to a heterosexual by simply talking to them.

“And I just make the point for anybody that thinks that may be the possibility: Do they think they can take a straight person to a psychiatrist and turn them gay?” Munisteri said.

Munisteri said he’s not the only one who opposes this plank in the party’s platform.

“My emails and phone calls to the office are running overwhelmingly opposed to that plank in the platform,” Munisteri said.

Ministeri describes the parliamentary maneuver that allowed the platform to be approved with the conversion therapy plank in place and says that there is no way to tell if a majority of Republicans statewide actually support the conversion therapy plank.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry’s handlers in his totally-not-running-for-Presidential campaign have apparently had a sit-down with him and have gotten him to see that his remarks weren’t going to win him any votes:

I got asked about an issue, and instead of saying, ‘You know what, we need to be a really respectful and tolerant country, and get back to talking about, whether you’re gay or straight you need to be having a job, and those are the focuses I want to be involved with,’ instead of getting — which I did, I readily admit, I stepped right in it,” he said.

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Compares Gays To Alcoholics

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was in San Francisco, totally not running for President (wink, wink!) at the Commonwealth Club. He was asked about the Texas Republican Party’s endorsement of ex-gay therapy, which California has banned for minors. (That law is currently being challenged in Federal court.)

In response to an audience question about it Wednesday night, Perry said he did not know whether the therapy worked. Commonwealth Club interviewer Greg Dalton then asked him whether he believes homosexuality is a disorder.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry said. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Rick Perry Hangs It Up

Jim Burroway

January 19th, 2012

He’s out of the race. Some say he was never really in it.. He is expected to make his announcement today sometime before CNN’s GOP debate this evening.

This brings the race for the GOP presidential nomination down to four: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Pennsylvanian Sen. Rick Santorum.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2012

Remember when it seemed like the entire world was waiting on pins and needles for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to do what God had called him to do and enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination? Remember how everyone knew that he was just the right candidate for the right wing? Remember how he was going to take his amazing twelve-year track record as governor of Texas and suddenly inject some excitement into the campaign of loonies and also rans, and how he was going to show everyone how it was done? How he was going to show everyone how a true conservative who hated the gays with the best of them would sail to the nomination and unseat the socialist Kenyan athiest-islamic traitor in the White House and return America back toward its true destiny?

And remember how, before he did all that, he paused for prayer, at a giant prayer rally called The Response which was put on by his Christian Dominionist friends? And how on the seventh day after The Response (keeping it Biblical, you know) he announced his candidacy? And how he vowed to protect America from all gays, foreign and domestic?

Remember how all of that turned out?

He doesn’t. He’s going to try it again. A prayer rally, that is, again called The Response, again put on by the same folks who organized last August’s rally in Houston, this time in Greenville, South Carolina. He will be a special guest at the “apolitical” event on Tuesday, January 17.

You know the definition of insanity, don’t you?

What New Hampshire Means

Jim Burroway

January 11th, 2012

As with Iowa, not much in national terms, but for different reasons. It remains to be seen whether New Hampshire or Iowa will stand out as an anomaly. But it may mean something in state politics where there are murmurings that the state legislature may take up a bill repealing that state’s marriage equality law. If state lawmakers looked to these results as an indication of their own electoral futures, they may notice that two of the three top finishers have kept the National Organization for Marriage at arm’s length. Yes, Romney signed and won the primary, but 40% of the the GOP’s own voters backed candidates who didn’t. What’s more, audiences openly booed Santorum’s making Teh Gays a central talking point of his campaign, making that the most visible indication of how Granite Staters feel about anti-gay politics.

Whether that matters in the state legislature or not however isn’t a given. State Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) seems to understand the temperature of the state electorate, and warned the GOP candidates to avoid discussing the state’s effort to repeal its 2009 marriage equality law, declaring such talk “off message” even though she herself is a staunch opponent of marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, having resigned as Attorney General in protest after Governor John Lynch signed the marriage equality bill into law. But social conservatives have an amazing capacity for self-delusions of power and grandeur. Gingrich’s victory speech last night, which didn’t mention Romney’s inconvenient existence, had Gingrich crowning himself the winner of “the conservative primary” as he all but measured the White House’s drapes. And in a related late-breaking development, a box of rocks moved ahead to edge him out of his third place finish. Meanwhile Perry has already saddled up for South Carolina after pulling out an upset victory over the write-in candidates. Santorum is already there as well, where he hopes his Iowa streak will leave a mark.

Romney Again

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2012

The results are in for last night’s New Hampshire GOP Primary. There weren’t too many surprises with the final results: Romney, as expected, came in with a strong first place showing. Given that he was governor of neighboring Massachusetts, he was practically a native son in political terms, making his strong showing unsurprising. Also, as expected, Ron Paul came in second. Huntsman was expected to do well in the state, having put all of his eggs in the Granite State basket. He came in third, and it’s not clear where his campaign goes from here.

Gingrich came up short, pulling on only 10% of the vote, as further evidence of his rapidly dropping popularity. A Box of Rocks came on surprisingly strong, ahead of Santorum and Perry. Cowboy Perry barely outpaced the write-ins to finish at the rear, with Santorum settling in just a short distance up it.

And that’s a wrap at BTB Elections Central for New Hampshire. Now it’s on to South Carolina where the fun really begins.

Perry’s Not Quitting

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

It’s fitting that his announcement came in a tweet with a photo that is a complete non-sequiter. It pretty much matches his entire campaign.

Out Of Many, Fewer

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

One aspect of the GOP race which greatly benefited former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the splintered tea-party/Evangelical vote across five other candidates: Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann. It’s worth noting that while Romney is the front-runner by virtue of his narrow Iowa win, his massive war chest and a well-established national organization, three out of four Iowa Republican caucus-goers nevertheless voted against him.

Today, with Bachmann dropping out and Perry going back to Texas to ask God if he still wants him to run, we may begin to see a consolidation of the tea party/Evangelical vote around Santorum. That could be significant.  If the Iowa votes cast for those three “Not Mitt” candidates — Santorum, Bachmann and Perry — all went to Santorum, it would have brought his total up to 40% against Romney’s 25%. Sure, not all of those votes would have consolidated to Santorum; some would have likely drifted over to Romney or Paul, but take a quick glance at the polling data (as all of the campaigns are doing right now) and you can quickly see how the Iowa race would have been very different without that split.

Ron Paul, who came in a solid third in Iowa, probably won’t benefit much from such a consolidation, especially in closed primary states where non-Republicans can’t easily cross over to vote in the GOP primary. Whether a smaller field will help Santorum overcome his huge deficit in money and organization is still an open question. I doubt it.  But social conservative extremists are beginning to see this consolidation as the only way to stay in the game. Bob Vander Plaats, head of Iowa’s anti-gay Family Leader, endorsed Santorum just two weeks ago, not long after Santorum’s campaign admitted that Vander Plaats indirectly solicited money from Santorum’s campaign. (The asking price for an endorsement was reportedly as high as one million dollars.) Today, Vander Plaats is calling on Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich to step out of the race:

“The worst thing that can happen to Mitt Romney is to run head to head against Rick Santorum,” he told reporters at Santorum’s campaign headquarters here tonight. “He wants to have a multiple candidate field, so I think some of these candidates — they need to reassess where they are at tonight.”

…”We did this drill four years ago. Had Fred Thompson not stayed in the race in South Carolina and takes nine percentage points, Huckabee wins South Carolina,” he said.

“If Huckabee wins South Carolina, McCain is out of the race and it’s Huckabee-Romney going into Florida. So what I’m saying is that we have to be smart about getting a pro-family conservative to go up against Mitt Romney.”

Perry is re-assessing and Bachmann has announced that she is “suspending” her campaign. And now we have this shot from Newt Gingrich, which should cause the Romney camp a few headaches this morning:

Laura Ingraham: Can you see a scenario under which the two of you would align together to try to defeat the establishment candidate, Mitt Romney?

Newt Gingrich:Absolutely. Of course. I mean Rick and I have a 20-year friendship, we are both rebels, we both came into this business as reformers, we both dislike deeply the degree to which the establishment sells out the American people. We both think Washington has to be changed in very fundamental ways, and we have lots of things that fit together. And the thing that’s interesting is if you take the votes, you add to that Perry and Bachmann, you begin to see the size of the conservative vote compared to Romney…if you take, you know, Santorum and Perry and Bachmann and Gingrich you get some sense of what a small minority Romney really represents.

Update: Mother Jones’s David Corn says that Newt is ready to settle scores in the time-honored tradition he established as the bomb-throwing House Speaker. Meanwhile, it looks like Perry still thinks he’s in the race despite his fifth place showing in Iowa.

It’s Romney By A Perfectly Coiffed Hair

Jim Burroway

January 4th, 2012

After spending millions of dollars and campaigning more or less nonstop for four years, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney barely squished passed the late surging Sen. Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes. Santorum is now the last Not Mitt in the race, having dethroned a long line of other Anyone-But-Mitts who had held the frontrunner or near-frontrunner status over the past several months. And what a line that was, beginning with Rep. Michele Bachmann, then Texas Gov. Rick Perry, then pizza magnate Herman Cain, then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, all of whom courted the tea party and Evangelical wings of the GOP. When caucus day came, it just happened to line up with being Santorum’s turn. According to entrance and exit polls, Santorum came in first with the tea party vote and the Evangelical vote, both by wide margins. If you were against abortion or wanted a candidate with “strong moral character,” then you almost certainly voted for Santorum. You also voted for him if you had only made up your mind in the past few days, indicating that he likely captured the vote that had been shifting from one candidate to another in search of the socially conservative Not Mitt for the past several months.

While Santorum soundly won the expectations race in Iowa, it’s hard to see how he can carry the momentum forward through the rest of the long primary season. He’s been effectively broke throughout the race, although this win will likely bring a huge fundraising bonus with it. But it will come too late to put together badly needed organizations in the upcoming races. Already, he has lost the ability to appear on the ballot in Virginia; he had no organization there to collect the signatures and turn them in. And so far, he’s been relatively untouched by the so-called super-PACs which played such a huge role in the campaign. That won’t last long now that he has their attention.

Meanwhile, third place Ron Paul’s entrance and exit poll results reveal his challenges ahead. If his critics charge that he is not a “true Republican” — whatever that’s supposed to mean these days — they can probably find data to back that up. Iowa is an open caucus state, meaning that it’s easy for anyone to show up at a caucus and participate even if they hadn’t been registered as a Republican for very long. Of those who identified as independent, Paul captured 43% of those votes, smashing the rest of the filed with that segment. He also captured 40% of those who claimed they were “moderate or liberal” and 33% of those who had never participated in a caucus before.  These numbers demonstrate the challenge he faces. He came in third in a state with a relatively open caucus. We might expect him to do similarly well in other open primary states as well. But his base of support will almost certainly be sharply curtailed in closed primary states where non-Republicans won’t be allowed to easily change their registration or participate.

Which means that it now looks like the GOP nomination is Mitt’s to lose.

But while we’re discussing Paul, here’s another surprising thing about his numbers. He came in second place among Evangelicals, capturing 18% of the vote behind Santorum’s 32%. That’s comfortably ahead of Romney’s 14%. It’s also well ahead of Gingrich’s and Perry’s 14% each and Bachmann’s 6%. The latter three assiduously courted that vote and lost. Paul’s play for the Evangelical vote took place mostly behind the scenes by hiring anti-gay activist Michael Heath to serve a leading role in the Iowa campaign. It won him the endorsement of a prominent Christian Reconstructionist, who advocated for the death penalty for gay people. Not that Rev. Phil Kayser thought it should be necessary to kill very many homosexuals. Just killing a few of them “would have a tendency of driving homosexuals back into their closets.” It turns out that Paul’s campaign platform of effectively demolishing the role of the Federal Government in most affairs fits in very nicely with Christian Reconstructionsist theology, and Paul’s campaign was initially thrilled with Kayser’s endorsement. “We welcome Rev. Kayser’s endorsement and the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.,” his campaign announced, before quietly erasing that announcement from Ron Paul’s web site with nary an explanation. “We’re thankful for the thoughtfulness with which he makes his endorsement and hope his endorsement and others like it make a strong top-three showing in the caucus more likely.” A top three showing is exactly what he got.

As for the rest, Rick Perry is going back to Texas to find out what God wants him to do next, Michele Bachmann is bowing out so her husband can keep on buying doggie sunglasses in a totally not-gay way, Gingrich has become bored by the whole thing now that he’s not the center of attention, and Jon Huntsman — well, we’re not quite sure where he is exactly.

Servicemembers United’s Alex Nicholson responds to Gov. Perry

Timothy Kincaid

December 9th, 2011

As an illustration of “Obama’s war on religion” and “liberal attacks on our religious heritage”, GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry cited “gays can serve openly in the military”.

Not only is Perry’s statement bigoted, it has almost no reflection on reality. While Barack Obama was in favor of repealing the Military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, the change did not originate in the White House nor was it a significant priority of the President.

Most know of the December 2010 vote in Congress and it goes without saying that much credit is owed to Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) who orchestrated a bipartisan effort that eventually gained the support of eight Republicans and all but one Democrat. But less known is the impetus behind the change, the lawsuit brought by Log Cabin Republicans against the Military and its policy.

Those of you who followed the efforts towards that repeal either here at Box Turtle Bulletin or elsewhere know that the repeal process, which had been of little interest in Congress, suddenly took on a new life after September 9, 2010 when U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips sided with Log Cabin Republicans in their lawsuit against the military and its anti-gay policy. Her injunction the following month led to a brief official cessation of the policy (until appeals were filed) and was the unofficial end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as a hiring and detaining policy.

But even so, this ruling did not work alone. Significant lobbying efforts in Congress provided Congressmen and Senators with the information about public attitudes on the repeal effort. And those attitudes were impacted by a steady stream of ejected service members who refused to quietly go away in shame.

In fact, if one looks at the parties most heavily involved in the change of policy, the one thing that becomes clear is that this was not in any way an attack on religion nor were the leading advocates for change particularly “liberal” (though that is undoubtedly the dismissive label that Rick Perry would assign to Senator Collins, Log Cabin Republicans, and the men and women risking their lives for his freedom).

One man at the heart of the effort was Alex Nicholson. As both the plaintiff in Log Cabin’s case and as the founder of Servicemembers United, Alex had his feet planted in both the legal and the legislative efforts to end this discrimination. And Alex, writing a guest column for CNN, reminds the Governor that not only was the repeal not a “liberal attack on religious heritage” in its implementation, but that it did not speak only to the wishes of liberal Americans.

The ad begins: “I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pews every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” What’s really wrong with that statement is that solid majorities of his fellow Republicans, self-described conservatives, and even weekly church-goers disagree with him on open gays and lesbians serving in the military.

Among these demographics, independent polling more than two years ago demonstrated surprising levels of support for repealing that archaic law, including 58% of Republicans, 58% of conservatives, and 60% of those who attend church weekly. Those numbers are likely significantly higher now that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has come and gone without the U.S. military falling apart at the seams as predicted. Indeed, even the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, who predicted disaster if the law were repealed, has come around, recently admitting that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been smooth sailing for the Marine Corps, as it has for the other branches of the armed forces.

So not only does Gov. Perry now find himself at odds with the majority of the American people and even his own conservative base on the righteousness of us being finished with “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but he is also at odds with the senior defense leadership. It was, after all, a Republican-appointed secretary of defense — Bob Gates — and a Republican-appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — Adm. Mike Mullen — who called for an end to the ban on known gay men and women serving in the military.

Rick Perry suffers from a delusion, a common one really. He believes that people who identify in the same way that he identifies must share the same bigotries and hatreds that he has.

We’ve seen it many times before. Someone in a cocktail party will assume that due to your skin tones that you’ll find her racist humor funny. Or because it’s all ‘just us guys’ that the room will agree with his demeaning comments about women.

And Rick Perry, being a Texas Republican who has never had any electoral cost to pay for his long pattern of blatant homophobia, thinks that all Republicans hate gay people the same way that he does. But that day is gone.

It is true that Republicans, on the whole, are significantly less supportive of gay issues and that they, on large, start from an adversarial position. But like other Americans, this demographic too is coming to discover that people whom they know and love are gay and, even more important, they are recognizing that unbased bias carries a social cost.

Rick Perry may have been well served by appealing to fear and loathing of gay people in a national Republican primary as recently as a decade ago. But after this ad, I think that Rick Perry is going to discover that he’s not in Texas anymore.

Bobblehead Bigot

Rob Tisinai

December 9th, 2011

Sometimes we toss around the b-word too easily. But after seeing this desperate anti-gay ad from Rick Perry…

…I’ll say the man’s one big, bobbleheaded bigot.

[Feel free to right-click on the bobbler, save the image, and share it if you like.]

New Perry Ad: There’s Something Wrong

Jim Burroway

December 7th, 2011

In case, for whatever reason, you didn’t understand what Texas Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry was trying to say yesterday, he put it in a television ad today:

YouTube Preview Image

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

What Rick Perry opposes

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2011

Rick Perry opposed the statement today by the President. As he was rather specific, we must assume that he means what he says. In case you didn’t do a point by point comparison, here is what Rick Perry supports:

Rick Perry believes that countries should deny people their rights because of who they love. This isn’t surprising, really, as he has long held that the state of Texas should deny gay people rights that are shared by heterosexuals solely because they are gay. And, unlike others who talk about “everyone being treated equally to anti-gay laws”, Perry has been clear that he hold personal animosity to gay people. As gay people.

Rick Perry opposes combating the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad. Again, no surprise. Rick Perry supported the criminalization of LGBT conduct and presumed conduct based on status in his home state of Texas.

Rick Perry opposes protecting vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. I won’t put the words “let ‘em die” in his mouth. I don’t know that he’s actually said that.

Rick Perry opposes the use of foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination. I suppose this goes to anyone, not just gay people. But if Perry were no find that it was in America’s interest to, say, encourage a Muslim nation to allow a Christian minority the freedom to practice their faith, he would never do so for a sexual minority. Mostly because he actively supports discrimination against sexual minorities.

Rick Perry opposes the swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad. And he would never ever engage International Organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination. Again, Perry sympathies with the abuser, not the victim.

Ideologically, it’s difficult to conceptualize a greater enemy to gay people. Santorum, perhaps. But never has there ever been in modern times a President who held the level of personal animosity that Rick Perry has for you. Not Eisenhower, not Nixon, not Johnson, not Reagan, and neither Bush. It is inconceivable that Perry could have the personal gay friendships of Reagan, the gay appointments of the Bushes, and certainly not the supportive views of Carter, Clinton, Ford, or Obama. None of the other credible GOP candidates, Romney, Gingrich, or even Bachmann would be worse.

We very seldom use the term “hate” to categorize a politicians views. It seldom is accurate. But I concur with Jim completely: Rick Perry hates you. Deeply.

Rick Perry Issues Press Release to Remind You How Much He Hates You

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2011

It didn’t take long for the Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate to respond:

Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights. This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.

I have proposed a foreign aid budget that starts at zero. From that zero baseline, we will consider aid requests based solely on America’s national security interests. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.

But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.

President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 19

Jim Burroway

November 19th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Several locations. While tomorrow is officially the day set aside to remember those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia, some TDoR events are taking place today. TDoR began in reaction to the brutal murder of Rita Hester, who was killed on November 28, 1998. Her murder resulted in the creation of the Remembering Our Dead web site and a candlelight vigil in 1999. In the first nine months of 2011, 116 transgender people have been killed around the world, according to Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM). They also say that there have been at least 681 murders in 50 countries since 2008. Observances for the Transgender Day of Rememberance typically consist of the reading of the names of those who have died because of their gender identity, expression, presentation or perception of gender variance. Observances are being held in cities all around the world. Click here to find an observance near you.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Thanksgiving Family Forum: Des Moines, IA. The anti-gay Family Leader will host a Thanksgiving Family Forum with GOP presidential candidates Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, pizza magnate Herman Cain, and Rep. Michele Bachmann “sitting shoulder to shoulder around a ‘Thanksgiving table’.” That hokey piece of stagecraft is the brainchild of organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who has this as a dress code: “the audience attire will be ‘business casual,’ but the candidates were asked ‘to dress like they’re going to Thanksgiving dinner’.” Which means that one of them will be wearing a loud green sweater with a giant white snowflake.

Noticably absent from the banquet is Gov. Mitt Romney, which has Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats steamed at the snub. “Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” he told Fox News. “This has national tentacles. … This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president. …I think what will happen is what happened in 2008. He’s been in this position before. He’s been on top of polls only to find his campaign tanking and sucking air.” Tell us how you really feel, Bob.

Family Leader promises that “ALL the questions will be centered around issues relating to the family and are designed to gauge the constitutional and biblical worldviews of the candidates.” And to make sure none of the candidates move too far from an anti-gay agenda, two ten-minute segments of the two-hour forum will be headed by Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery, and the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. The remainder of the one hour and forty minutes will be moderated by Fox News’ Frank Lutz. It begins at 4:00 p.m. at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. While the event is open to the press, the latest word has it that no major network will be televising it. Thank God for small favors.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
American Council of Christian Churches Calls AIDS “God’s Wrath”: 1989. Peter Steinfels wrote in the New York Times about a gathering earlier in November of U.S. Catholic Bishops in Baltimore that had met to hammer out a document responding to the AIDS crisis. The bishops decided overwhelmingly to reject the theological proposition that AIDS was in any way a punishment from God, a position held by one in four Americans, according to a recent poll. J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, had published 68 statements on AIDS from 45 different religious groups in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and found “a remarkable” across both liberal and conservative religious groups recognizing that AIDS was not just a gay problem, and “that special ministries should be established to serve AIDS victims, their families and friends, and that the civil rights of homosexuals or of those with the AIDS virus should be protected.” But, The Times learned, that consensus wasn’t unanimous:

The Bible repeatedly describes God as employing all kinds of terrors, natural and human, to punish those who disobey his commands. These biblical accounts naturally governed the reaction of the American Council of Christian Churches, a fundamentalist group that recently expressed dismay at the consensus discovered by Mr. Melton. The council, which claims to represent about two million ”Bible Christians,” promptly went on record upholding the idea that AIDS is God’s wrath visited on homosexuals and drug addicts, although for their ultimate benefit if they turn to Jesus.

If you know of something that belongs on the Agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

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