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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 November, 2012

Westboro Baptist has candidate running for Kansas School Board

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2012

From James Gurney’s charming children’s book Dinotopia, which has nothing to do with Intelligent Design.

IN the 1990′s the Kansas State Board of Education became the front line in the battle over the origins of the universe. Control went back and forth between various factions, with each changing the standards to fit their ideology.

But things came to a head in 2005 when the Board held hearings on the teaching of Intelligent Design. Recognizing that the hearings were for show (the ID supporters held a 6-4 majority), the scientific community opted not to participate. At the end of a week of Intelligent Design support, the Board concluded that evolution is “an unproven, often disproven” theory.

It wasn’t a bright shining moment for Kansas and the citizens were not thrilled to be portrayed nationally as nutbag extremists.

In August 2006, six conservatives were replaced by Democrats or moderate Republicans and in 2007 the Board voted to bring Kansas’ education in line with scientific consensus, free of theistic explanations. The Board has been controlled by moderate Republicans and Democrats since, and that is not going to change this year.

But they may well find themselves back in the news as an embarrassment. (NECN)

Jack Wu, a Topeka computer programmer, made opposition to teaching evolution the cornerstone of his campaign as the Republican nominee in the 4th District in northeast Kansas against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell, also from Topeka. Wu described evolution as “Satanic lies” and said on a website that public schools were preparing students to be “liars, crooks, thieves, murderers, and perverts.”

Wu also raised eyebrows by saying that he was lured to Kansas from California in 2008 by Westboro Baptist. The Topeka church, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is known internationally for picketing with anti-gay slogans and proclaiming that American soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. Wu is not formally a member, but he’s attended services regularly.

“I consider the people at Westboro Baptist Church good friends so it’s a very friendly and very helpful relationship,” Wu said in an October email, responding to questions about his affiliation. “I learn a lot from them, a lot of truth.”

The Republican Party leadership disavowed Wu, bringing an answer to the question, “Is there anything so wing-nut and anti-gay that even Sam Brownback won’t support it?” Surprisingly, there is.

Eleven Republican legislators reveal that they oppose equality more than they oppose big government

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2010

One of the much-touted principles of the Republican Party is that government which is closer to the people is preferable to big centralized Federal government. For some Republican legislators that is just rhetoric to be ignored when big government better suits their personal agenda.

Nine Republican Senators and two Republican House Members have signed as co-sponsors to a bill to override the near-unanimous decision of the elected representatives of the District of Columbia to allow for marriage equality in that municipality. Although local elected officials and local election boards and local judges agree that this is a local decision and that it is not appropriate for the rights of some citizens to be up for majority veto, these Senators and Representatives believe that Federal intervention is the answer.

    The 9 Senate co-sponsors are Senators

    Robert Bennett (UT) – Mormon
    Sam Brownback (KS) – Catholic
    Jim Bunning (KY) – Catholic
    John Cornyn (TX) – Church of Christ (Restoration Movement)
    Mike Enzi (WY) – Presbyterian
    James Inhofe (OK) – Presbyterian
    Pat Roberts (KS) – Methodist
    David Vitter (LA) – Catholic
    Roger Wicker (MS) – Southern Baptist

    The 2 House co-sponsors are Representatives

    Jason Chaffetz (UT) – Mormon
    Jim Jordan (OH) – Grace Bible Church (independent)

This bill is going nowhere. It will not be brought up for a vote in either the House or the Senate. So the only reason to sign on is to publicly identify with the idea of forcing the city to do what the they want by use of the full power of the Federal government. These eleven Republicans do not really believe in what the Party claims to believe about local v. centralized power.

Conservatives are quick to claim that moderates who verge from the party platform on an issue or two are RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). I wonder if they will use the same term for these Republicans who have flipped the bird to one of the central tenets of the Party.

Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill Sparks Schism Inside The Family; U.S. Sens. Remain Silent

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2009

Rachel Maddow had author Jeff Sharlet on her program last night. Sharlet is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and has been following the connections of The Family to the current attempt in Uganda to legislate LGBT people out of existence through its draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act. That proposed Act is now reportedly being modified to drop the death penalty but add forced conversions. If true, that would provide even more evidence that the anti-gay conference last March by three American ex-gay proponents was a major factor in propelling this bill to where we are today.

Sharlet had earlier identified Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s Parliament, as a “rising star” and member of The Family. It is The Family that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and Bahati has played a role in organizing the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast for some time.

While the March anti-gay conference in Kampala played a huge role in providing impetus for the proposed legislation, Sharlet reports that the idea for the draconian bill predates that conference. According to Sharlet, Bahati got the idea for the Anti-Homosexuality Act at the October 2008 Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast where he floated the idea during a private meeting. Sharlet reports that other Family members tried to dissuade Bahati from his plans, but in the end they work a balance “between access and accountability” and the decided that access to Ugandan political figures was more important than holding them accountable for the lives of a reviled minority.

Sharlet reports that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) may have attended this particular prayer breakfast, although he’s still trying to get confirmation of that. He has been very active in Ugandan Prayer breakfasts in the past and travels to Uganda about twice a year. Ugandan Family members credit Inhofe for making the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast a success.

Sharlet reports that the bill has caused something of a schism between the Ugandan and American branches of The Family. While several American members of The Family are quietly trying to put a stop to the bill, Sens. Inhofe and Sam Brownback (R-KS) have refused to step up, characterizing the bill as an internal Ugandan matter that they don’t want to “interfere” with — despite the fact that they’ve had no reluctance to “interfere” in Ugandan matters where condom distribution to fight AIDS is concerned.

David Bahati and Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo plan to come to the American National Prayer Breakfast in February 2009. Sharlet reports that the Ugandans pushing for this bill may be dis-invited to the Prayer Breakfast.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

This is important news to help place the line of events into context. While it appears that the anti-gay conference put on by three American ex-gay proponents wasn’t the source for the idea of outlawing LGBT people, it certainly played a major role in making this proposal a reality by putting a public face on the “pressure” for the legislation. That conference served as a launching pad for a public campaign demanding that “something be done” — a campaign that included further meetings and demonstrations, culminating in an orgy of public outings and denunciations as part of a national vigilante campaign. Throughout the campaign, the words and writings of the three American activists were used as fuel to propel the hysteria further. All of this breathed new life into a germ of an idea hatched five months earlier.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Rachel Maddow: Should US Politicians Try To Stop The “Kill Gays” Bill?

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2009

Rachel Maddow last night reviewed the role that Rick Warren has played in Uganda, including his siding with the Ugandan Anglican Church against the U.S. Episcopal Church over the ordination of gay clergy and bishops even though Warren’s background is Baptist.

Maddow also reviewed the role that several U.S. politicians — specifically Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) — in their own meddling in Uganda’s political affairs, mostly in changing Uganda’s previously successful fight against AIDS by insisting on abstinence only education. These politicians, it should be noted, are also all members of the secretive Evangelical group The Family, which seeks to “take over” (in Family leader Doug Coe’s words) the political, business and other power spheres around the world in a sort of “trickle down” national salvation plan, as opposed to focusing on individual salvation that is at the core of orthodox Christianity.

Rachel’s panel last night consisted of Congressman Anthony Wiener (D-NY); Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University; and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. She asked them a very pertinent question:

“Is it reasonable to expect that American politicians who have been, frankly, pretty interventionist in Uganda in the past, should be trying to stop the ‘kill the gays’ bill there?”

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

GOP Top Tier Ignore the “Values Voters”

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2007

The great circus of extremism known as the Values Voters Debate is being held today, and the Republican front runners will not be there. NBC6 is reporting that Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson all have “scheduling conflicts” and wouldn’t be caught dead at the event.

One can hardly blame them. The debate is moderated by WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah and will host questions from “the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, Creation Studies Institute and the like”, including the brother of Terri Schiavo.

But though Janet Folger is terribly disappointed (and predicting dire results for those who are skipping the lunacy), there are some candidates so extreme (or so desperate) that they are willing to publically tie their wagons to young earthers, Ford boycotters, xenophobes, and homophobes.

Tonight’s forum, which will be moderated by Joseph Farah, the editor of WorldNetDaily, will feature Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressmen Duncan Hunter (California), Ron Paul (Texas), and Tom Tancredo (Colorado), John Cox — and former U.S. Ambassador Alan Keyes, who announced his candidacy over the weekend.

Those with nothing to do (and I truly mean nothing to do) can tune in to watch the also-rans claim to each be more extreme than the other.