Posts Tagged As: Family Research Council

Family Research Council’s Kenneth Blackwell To Lead Trump’s Domestic Policy Transition Team

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2016

Kenneth BlackwellPolitico reports that it has obtained an organization chart outlining who’s doing what on Donald Trump’s transition team. According to Politico, Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and now the so-called Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council, is the man in charge of charge of Donald Trump’s domestic policy transition team. Blackwell lobbied against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and has described homosexuality as “a compulsion.” He also called it “a lifestyle choice” comparable to kleptomaniacs:

The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes

During the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit last September, Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs bragged about the FRC’s success in shaping the Republican Party’s platform, which has been described as “the Most Anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-Year History.” She also provided the FRC’s agenda for Trump’s first 100 days in office. That agenda includes rolling back President Barack Obama’s LGBT anti-discrimination protection measures, and to reverse U.S. foreign policies calling for the recognition of LGBT rights abroad.

True to Trump’s obsession with non-disclosure agreements, whatever Blackwell’s input on Trump’s domestic policy will be, it will remain strictly hush-hush:

Reached by the Enquirer on Thursday, Blackwell said he could not talk about his role and referred questions the Trump transition team.

“I’ve signed a non-disclosure statement that I do honor,” he said.

NBA Picks New Orleans To Host All-Star Game

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2016

Last month, the National Basketball Association announced that they were pulling their 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina, in protest over HB2, which targeted LGBT people, especially transgender people, for discrimination. While the NBA didn’t say where the game would be held, sources speculated that New Orleans was in strong contention. Today, the NBA made it official:

New Orleans, announced Friday as the new location of the game, replaces Charlotte, which was set to host the game until the NBA decided last month to move it elsewhere.

Unlike several other Southern states, Louisiana has not been swept up in legislative efforts to pass laws similar to that in North Carolina — a fact Gov. John Bel Edwards has touted while lobbying the NBA to bring its All-Star weekend to New Orleans.

Gov. Edwards (D) hasn’t issued a statement since this morning’s announcement, what with having to deal with the disastrous flooding and other distractions. Tony Perkins, who’s home was flooded out, not only found the time to take advantage of those same distractions, but also found the time to respond to the NBA’s announcement:

I commend North Carolina Governor McCrory for his political courage and moral clarity in not caving in to the NBA’s threats to move the All-Star game. He stared down the giant of the NBA and stood strong against government discrimination of private entities and for the principles of protecting privacy and safety in government buildings.

“My home state of Louisiana, like North Carolina, is one of 32 states in the U.S. that does not force private businesses to allow men in women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms. On the other hand, in New Orleans—the same as in Charlotte—the NBA will be free to divide the restrooms at its own event on the basis of self-professed ‘gender identity’ instead of objective biological sex, if it wishes to do so. Only politics—not the well-being of transgender persons or anyone else—motivated this disruptive and punitive move.

“The hypocrisy of the NBA over North Carolina’s HB 2 law is utterly stunning. The NBA is willing to turn a blind eye and play games in countries, like the People’s Republic of China, that regularly oppress their own citizens.

“The NBA should focus on basketball, not on redefining what it means to be male or female,” concluded Perkins.

It looks like Perkins and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) have compared talking points. McCrory’s tantrum runs along a similar vein:

“According to his own statements, Commissioner Silver has no credibility in telling America that he’s more ‘comfortable’ playing a basketball game in the People’s Republic of China with its oppressive human rights record, rather than the 9th most populous state in the U.S.A.,” said Communications Director Josh Ellis. “This is another classic example of politically-correct hypocrisy gone mad. We are proud that Louisiana has joined 21 other states that are fighting for basic privacy expectations for our children and families in school restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities.”

While Louisiana has no North Carolina bathroom bill, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has joined twelve other states in a lawsuit led by Texas against the Obama Administration’s directives to extend federal gender-based anti-discrimination protections to transgender people.

Schadenfreude Alert

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2016

Tony Perkins, president of the Family “Research” Council, ordinarily lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and commutes to Washington, D.C. But this month, he was doing what just about everyone in the Capitol has done during the month of August ever since the city was founded: he’s taking the month off on vacation, and staying back home in Louisiana. While he was away, he left former FFRC vice president and now Breitbart blogger Ken Klukowski in charge of Perkins’s podcast. Also, while he was away and back home in Louisiana, the state was hit with horrific flooding in a disaster that has claimed a dozen lives and that many are comparing to Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, Perkins was a guest on his own podcast to get listeners caught up to date on what he’s been up to this week:

This is a flood, I would have to say, of near-Biblical proportions. … This is unlike anything we’ve seen before. In fact, we had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. …We had about ten feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, our cars… we have a few of our cars flooded. … This has effected probably eighty percent of our community.

Back in Louisiana, Perkins has also been acting as pastor at a local Baptist church. It also has been flooded. So what kind of a lesson from God does Perkins and Klukowski draw from this disaster? They get to rejoice that God considers them “worthy of suffering for His sake.” Seriously.

The sad truth remains that millions of Louisianans have lost their homes. Many have lost everything they own and many more now have to start over a second time in just a little over a decade. Some have even lost their lives. It strikes me as small-minded to take any sliver of joy over anyone else’s misfortune when it comes on a scale like this. But I have to admit it: I can’t help but to feel a small bit of schadenfreude when I think of just this one individual. I don’t think it’s anything to be proud of, but, okay, what the hell…

Family “Research” Council Withdraws Support for Modified FADA

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2016

Ahead of yesterday’s shameful hearing, where House Republicans commemorated the one-month anniversary* of the Pulse gay night club massacre in Orlando by exploring options for legalizing anti-gay discrimination with the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), the bill’s sponsors apparently made a very odd addition to the bill’s language:


(A) IN GENERAL. — Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that —

(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of —

(A) two persons of the opposite sex; or
(B) two individuals of the same sex; or

(2) extramarital relations are improper.

You see the clever change, don’t you? If someone wants to discriminate because they don’t believe in opposite sex marriages, they’d also be free to discriminate without any fear of government “discrimination” against them. Because, you know, there are tons of people that strongly disagree with the Supreme Court ruling upholding marriage equality for opposite-sex couples, right?

Of course, this is a sham and a pretty bizarre one at that. But on the off chance that someone somewhere might actually decide that they don’t to bake a man-woman wedding cake, the Family “Research” Council has withdrawn its support for this legislative masterpiece:

Unfortunately, the proposed language of FADA was changed late last week by bill sponsors in response to criticism to make it protect the view that marriage is the union of “two individuals of the same sex” as well as the view that it is “two individuals of the opposite sex.” The hearing made clear that this “two views” approach has done nothing to mitigate opposition to or win support for FADA.

The Court’s ruling and the Obama administration is already promoting such views, but natural marriage supporters are not protected from government punishment at all. Rep. Bonnie Waston Coleman’s (D-N.J.) commented that this “two views” version of FADA, which was meant to appease the Left, is a “facade”. It is unfortunate that the bill sponsors decided to affirm the Court’s redefinition when it is clear the Left does not want a live and let live policy which the original version of FADA supported.

That policy and reference to FADA’s nondiscrimination protections for supporters of natural marriage was added in two places to the conservative GOP platform! Members of Congress should not be asked to implicitly affirm the Supreme Court’s illegitimate decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in order to protect religious liberty or conscience rights, a message that was clearly articulated in the GOP platform this week. Because of the weakened language of the bill FRC has reluctantly withdrawn its support for FADA.

They are right of course in one sense: this change makes the bill even worse than the original bill by allowing more people to discriminate. But that explains only part of their objection. The other part they couldn’t have made any clearer: to them, “live and let live” was never going to be a two way street. It’s right there in black and white.

*I’ve tried avoiding the contradictory phrase “one-month anniversary.” I really have. Believe me. It makes no logical sense. But everyone else is using it, so I’m throwing in the towel. File this under: choosing your battles.

Family “Research” Council Gearing Up for GOP Floor Fight Over Anti-LGBT Platform Provisions

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2016

Moments ago, FRC Action, the political action wing of the Family “Research” Council, sent out the following email blast to try to head of a floor fight at the Republican Convention next week:

LGBT Activists Attempt to Hijack GOP Platform

When the gavel fell in Cleveland yesterday evening, delegates at the Republican platform committee had succeeded in crafting one of the most conservative GOP platforms in modern times. Not all were celebrating the clearly enunciated conservative principles that underscored the party’s pro-military, pro-life, pro-natural marriage, pro-religious freedom stands. In the concluding moments of the platform gathering, a small group of delegates were engaged in an outright deceptive effort to derail the platform and potentially the convention. After repeated efforts to redefine marriage for the Republican party and interject special LGBT provisions in the platform, an effort was launched to create a Minority Report promoting items for an LGBT agenda, under the guise of creating a preamble for the platform from the 1860 Republican platform.

As soon as the proceedings concluded, the initiators of this effort announced to CNN that 37 delegates had signed on to a call for a Minority Report that would circumvent the process and put the platform onto the floor of next week’s convention and potentially derailing the GOP gathering. David Barton was one of the delegates that was misled into signing the resolution. He wrote a letter to delegates last night explaining what took place and urging others who may have been lied to, to remove their names from the resolution.

The use of such deception is not surprising, given the tactics of LGBT activists. Social media, fueled by anti-Christian organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, has been abuzz that I added language to the GOP platform that has embraced “reparative therapy” for homosexuals. Nothing provides a clearer example of both their dishonesty and their self-absorption. Here is the exact language that I added to the platform under the subsection of “Protecting Individual Conscience in Health Care:”

“We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children. We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children and urge enactment of legislation that would require parental consent to transport their daughters across state lines for abortion.”

The subcommittee adopted the language without any opposition — even from a LGBT activist who was on the subcommittee and leading the effort for Paul Singer, the wealthy Republican donor.

Despite the deceptive and desperate attempts by those who want to undermine the Republican Party’s longstanding support for the traditional family values which have made America the envy of the world, the GOP’s stand for these values is stronger than ever.

Here is a bit more information that I am pretty confident you will not read in media reports. Those attempting to change the party’s stand on marriage and morality repeatedly claimed that they represented the next generation, and that the party could not hold these views and survive. What was interesting is that with the exception of maybe one delegate making those claims, they were my age or older. But in contrast, those who passionately and successfully advanced natural marriage and traditional values in the platform were mostly conservative millennials. Once again, I challenge you not to believe what the media and the Left claim about the next generation. Keep training them up to stand firm in the truth.

Stay tuned. I’ll have more from Cleveland as the FRC Action Team continues to represent you and the values that make America — America.

You can read some background about how the “therapy for their minor children” clause made it into the final draft of the platform here. Dallas Morning News has more background:

And taking a page from the Texas Republican Party’s platform, Louisiana delegate Tony Perkins proposed language endorsing so-called “conversion” or “reparative therapy.”

The practice, which has been widely criticized by doctors and therapists, seeks to “cure” homosexuals through analysis and, oftentimes, prayer. The new platform language, which the committee approved, does not actually explicitly mention the practice, but says parents should be allowed “to determine the proper treatment or therapy” for  their children.

After the meeting, Perkins said the language would extend to any “physical, emotional” therapy.

According to Time’s Zeke Miller, the clause was slipped in even though Perkins had missed a deadline to pre-file the amendment:

GOP Endorses “Most Anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-Year History”

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2016

As Time reported:

On Tuesday morning, the first openly gay member of the Republican Party’s platform committee said she was offering amendments to see “just how far this committee is willing to go to avoid a single positive reference to the LGBT community.”

According to reports, the platform committee went about as far as they could. The committee voted twice yesterday — exactly one month to the day after the Orlando massacre at the Pulse gay night club — to erase the gays from the worst mass shooting on American soil in a century. For example, under “War on Terrorism,” the platform now reads:


War on Terrorism

We are a nation at war! Islamic extremists have declared war on our Nation and the civilized world. The terrorist’s attack on the LGBT community in Orlando on June 12th ads to the long list of hundreds of attacks of war against the United States…

The strike-out “on the LGBT commiunity” was a proposed amendment to the platform which was rejected by the platform committee. That move builds on a predominantly-Republican theme of refusing to say our name. In another statement on “radical Islamic terrorism,” the platform committee rejected a mention of “LGBT individuals, Christians, Jews and women” as being “a target of violence and oppression.”

The New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters reports: “Jim Bopp, a delegate from Indiana, said the Republican Party had always rejected ‘identity politics.’ Arguing against the measure, he said, ‘Obviously, there’s an agenda here’.” Peters continues:

But nearly every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. The platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and makes references to appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”

“Has a dead horse been beaten enough yet?” asked Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York, who chastised her colleagues for writing language offensive to gays into the platform “again and again and again.”

Additional provisions included those that promoted state laws to limit which restrooms transgender people could use, nodded to “conversion therapy” for gays by saying that parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference and stated that “natural marriage” between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins, who is a Louisiana delegate to the platform committee, was in a celebratory mood going into yesterday’s final meeting ahead of the convention. In a email blast to supporters:

The marriage plank was strengthened with language explaining why children deserve a mom and dad. Religious liberty text was added protecting businesses and military service members. …

We are also pleased that the party is now on record standing with the 23 states that are suing President Obama over his bathroom & locker room edict. These amendments were overwhelmingly adopted. There were a handful of LGBT activists and sympathizers who opposed language highlighting the privacy and safety concerns related to the president’s locker room decrees as well as the party’s clearly stated view that natural marriage is the cornerstone of society. Some in the media attempted to seize on this as evidence of a divided party. Far from it. My prediction is that Republicans will leave Cleveland with a solid platform and will unite around the party’s nominee for the purpose of saving America for the next generation and beyond.

Log Cabin Republicans were outraged:

There’s no way to sugar-coat this: I’m mad as hell — and I know you are, too.

Moments ago, the Republican Party passed the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.

Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of “pray the gay away” — it’s all in there.

This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either. Heck, it’s not even Donald Trump’s! When given a chance to follow the lead of our presumptive presidential nominee and reach out to the LGBT community in the wake of the awful terrorist massacre in Orlando on the gay nightclub Pulse, the Platform Committee said NO.

Peters said the platform that emerged from yesterday’s meeting “amounts to a rightward lurch even from the party’s hard-line platform in 2012.” With the public moving steadily toward support for marriage equality and non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, moderate Republicans say they have enough signatures to demand a vote on their proposals to take to fight over the party’s anti-LGBT planks to all 2,475 delegates on the Convention floor, which should make for some compelling must-see TV.

Reports: Draft Republican Platform To Include Support for Ex-Gay Therapy

Jim Burroway

July 11th, 2016

According to Zeke Miller, political reporter for Time magazine, a Republican Platform Subcommittee on Healthcare, Education, and Crime, has approved a plank offered by the Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins:

An amendment offered by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins offered support for the controversial practice of “conversion therapy” for children who identify as LGBT.

“We support the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children,” the amendment said. Perkins originally drafted a more explicit embrace of the practice, but amended the text after consultations with top RNC officials. Perkins’ amendment, which passed the subcommittee, also calls for legislation to require parental consent for minor women to cross state lines for the purposes of obtaining an abortion.

Perkins is an official GOP delegate from Louisiana.

The subcommittee also recommended platform amendments calling internet porn “a public health crisis,” and it reportedly strengthened language opposing marriage equality. Miller doesn’t say what the new language consists of. He also reports that a separate Subcommittee on Restoring Constitutional Government has approved its own language opposing same-sex marriage. Miller also reported on the debate over the so-called “bathroom bills”:

The subcommittee also considered several “bathroom” amendments following the ongoing controversy in North Carolina which requires transgender individuals to use bathrooms as their birth gender, rather than how they identify. “I think this takes us to a dark place,” (New York delegate Annie) Dickerson said. “It shrinks our tent. We should be about addition not subtraction,” she added. West Virginia National Committeewoman Melody Potter disagreed, speaking in favor of amendments to echo the North Carolina law, which has sparked a backlash in the state, “nobody wants to discriminate against anybody, but I think it’s an issue of safety.” The measure ultimately passed.

Dickerson is a longtime fundraiser for Paul E. Singer’s conservative think tank that has been pushing for more support for LGBT equality in the Republican Party.

Dallas Morning News reporter Lauren McGaughy adds that “the same subcommittee approved platform language that opposes prekindergarten, supports the teaching of the Bible as a literature elective in all public schools and calls for a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution” to “give parents the right to direct their children’s education, a tacit critique of the English language and math standards known as Common Core.”

The full Platform Committee is set to begin taking up subcommittee recomendations later this afternoon, with the final draft expected to be completed tomorrow afternoon.

Another Regnerus-Like “Research” Paper On Gay Parents Making the Rounds

Jim Burroway

July 7th, 2016

Paul Sullins, defending a flawed paper by Mark Regnerus.

Paul Sullins, defending a flawed paper by Mark Regnerus in 2013.

The Federalist website is giving this research significant play:

The study by sociology professor Paul Sullins found that “[a]t age 28, the adults raised by same-sex parents were at over twice the risk of depression as persons raised by man-woman parents.” In addition, there was an “elevated risk associated with imbalanced closeness and parental child abuse in family of origin; depression, suicidality, and anxiety at age 15; and stigma and obesity.”

Given these findings, Sullins concluded that “[m]ore research and policy attention to potentially problematic conditions for children with same-sex parents appears warranted.” This study is significant, Sullins writes, because other studies that have “reported ‘no differences’ in well-being” most often use “psychometric measures of depression or anxiety,” which has led to “a lapse in policy attention to the potential needs of such children.” Sullins’ research challenges the “benign findings” of these other studies.

“Reanalyses have confirmed, not surprisingly, the presence in such samples of strong ascertainment bias, social desirability bias, and/or positive reporting bias” in studies that have concluded there are no differences between children of same-sex couples and those of opposite-sex parents.

Let’s go to that paper, shall we? First of all, the good thing here is that the paper, published in the Egyptian journal Depression Research and Treatment, is available online for free. That’s also the bad thing, which I’ll get to later. Second, this paper has many of the same problems with the widely-panned 2012 paper by Mark Regnerus that purported to show that children of parents in same-sex relationships fared significantly more poorly than children who were raised in homes by their biological opposite-sex parents. In fact, Regnerus’s paper found no such thing, although he did his best to make his turd look nice and shiny.

Like Regnerus’s paper, Sullins says that he based his research on a nationally-represented sample from the US National Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health. He combed through 15,701 respondents, at ages 15, 22, and 28. But like Regnerus, Sullins quickly ran into a problem. Remember, Regnerus could only find two same-sex couples in his sample who had actually raised their children as a couple. Two! So he stacked the deck by re-defining “children,” “raised,” “by,” and “same-sex couples.” Sullins had a similar problem: out of a sample of 15,701 respondents, he could only find 23 adolescents raised by just 20 same-sex couples, “consisting of 17 lesbian partners and 3 gay male partners.”

And what do we know about those families? Not much. We don’t know how much time those children spent with their same-sex parents. We don’t know whether they spent the most formative periods of their lives with opposite-sex parents who then got divorced, or whether they were children of a single parent who had gone through multiple parters over time. We know nothing about the stability, or lack there-of, of either the opposite-sex or same-sex parenting that these children experienced.

But let those numbers sink in: Sullins is basing his entire eight page on those tiny numbers. Twenty same-sex couples.

Out of how many? In 2013, Gary J. Gates at the Williams Institute combed through census data and found that “more than 111,000 same-sex couples are raising an estimated 170,000 biological, step, or adopted children.” Sullins found just twenty out of 111,000 couples. That would be about 0.018% of the total. Which means that if this were a poll, Sullins’s margin of error would be, at best, plus or minus 18.4 percent at a 90% confidence level.


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

But let’s also look at it a different way. The Standard Error (SE) that Sullins calculated for outcome measures of the children of those twenty same-sex couples is huge when compared to the the data set for opposite-sex couples. What this means is that it only takes one or two individual adverse scores coming from one or two dysfunctional families to throw off those averages. When you see such large swings in the data, you know right away that you need a larger sample to get a clearer picture of what’s going on. Any small sample can sweep up significant anomalies that diminish or disappear once the sample size gets larger. A sample size of 2,000 gay- or lesbian-led families could decrease that standard error by a factor of ten. At least then, you’d start to look at something that can approximate the rest of the 109,000 same-sex couples raising children. Running the numbers again, an opinion poll of 2,000 respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.8%.

How does this scale up to the 111,000 same-sex couples raising children? Well, because it’s supposed to be a peer-reviewed paper — more on that in a moment — Sullins covers himself here somewhat:

Limitations. Despite the signal strengths of Add Health as a large nationally representative longitudinal dataset and notwithstanding the strong significance for contrast effects reported above, the very small size of the sample of children raised by lesbians imposes important limits and prompts great caution regarding the conclusions of this study. As with all observational studies, causal inference is not possible. Moreover, many subtle distinctions and pathways of influence simply cannot be addressed with only 20 cases, and unobserved differences between the parent comparison groups may well confound some or all of the child differences observed. In particular, the lack of useful measures for parent mental distress, depression, family history of violence, alcohol consumption, and substance abuse precluded examination of important familial risk factors which may be associated with child distress. For these reasons, the findings of this study should be considered only provisional and exploratory until and unless they are confirmed by further research.

I wonder if Sullins would be so careful when he’s interviewed about this. Somehow, I doubt it. After all, he’s a research fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, which is an arm of the Family “Research” Council.

So how did a paper with such sweeping conclusions make it into a professional journal? Well the biggest problem with professional publishing these days is that there are literally thousands of medical and social science journals around the world begging for papers to fill their issues. A few are influential because they can attract the best of the best. And because they can attract the best of the best, they can by very selective about which papers they publish. Many of them reject far more papers than they publish. Other journals however are left fighting over scraps.

Cairo-based Hindawi Publishing Corporation, which publishes Depression Research and Treatment, has been criticized for using spam email to solicit manuscripts (PDF: 111KB/2 pages). What’s more, it’s a pay-to-publish journal, charging its authors about US$1,000 as an “article processing fee.” Truly reputable journals don’t rely on charging authors to submit their manuscripts for their profits, not when they can charge a subscription or they sell the articles on a per-article basis because the quality of their content justifies the price.But Hindawi is among the new class of “Open Access” free journals, which advertises its bug as a feature. It gives away its articles for free, in exchange for charging authors exorbitant “fees” on the front end. Naturally, this creates an incentive  to publish more articles already paid for by authors –especially from those who can’t get their papers published elsewhere — with little regard to whether the article has any merit in the first place.

And Hindawi goes a step further. They increase their profit margins by not employing editors for their journals. Editors fill a critical function. An editor is ordinarily a recognized subject matter expert who can act as a gatekeeper to ensure the quality of the journal’s content. More critically, that editor is also tasked with overseeing the peer-review process, which involves knowing which reviewers are qualified to review a paper. Instead, the editorial role at Hindawi is handled by staff members at the company’s headquarters in Cairo, which leaves the most critical task of peer review in the hands of those who may know little or nothing about the paper’s subject. That is, if Hindawi actually has a peer review process. Many open access journals use the practice of publishing now (and collecting the author’s “processing fee”) and letting people ask questions later.

Those problems at Hindawi are evident not only with Sullins’s paper itself, but with the overall reputation of Depression Research and Treatment. Among the 1,061 psychology journals listed at Scimago Journal and Country Rank, Depression Research and Treatment is ranked at number 380. From a top-to-bottom perspective, they can at least brag that they’re in the top half. Unfortunately, Hindawi’s poor publishing practices have become far more common in the publishing world as newcomers to professional publishing scramble to find manuscripts to publish.

So the real question is this: what do other professionals think of the kinds of papers that Hindawi publishes in Depression Research and Treatment. One key measure is to count how many times other researchers cite papers in a given journal when they’re writing their papers. Articles in the top twenty psychology journals are cited, on average, 8.8 times for each paper. For the top fifty, each paper on average gets 6.1 cites. For Depression Research and Treatment, that average is just 1.7.

So there you have it: Sullins had to pay $1,000 to publish a flawed paper using flawed methodology in a pay-to-publish journal with no editor to oversee a questionable peer-review process, and that is generally ignored by his peers.

Donald Trump To Court Anti-Gay Extremists

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

Time magazine has reported that the Trump campaign is actively courting religious and social conservatives as he turns his attention to the fall general election. A meeting has been set for June 21, and invitees represent just about the entire anti-gay brain trust:

The invitation. (Click to enlarge.)

The invitation. (Click to enlarge.)

Former presidential candidate Ben Carson is working with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Bill Dallas, who leads United in Purpose, to plan a closed-door session for about 400 social conservative leaders to meet with Trump in the coming weeks in New York City. A broader steering group of about 20 people includes people like American Values president Gary Bauer, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats.

“We are looking for a way forward,” Perkins says. “The main thing here is this is to have a conversation.” He described the planned meeting as “a starting point for many.” The Trump campaign has not publicly confirmed that the meeting will take place.

Other anti-gay activists include Phil Burress (Citizens for Community Values), Ken Cuccinelli, Ronnie Floyd (Southern Baptist Convetion), E.W. Jackson, Harry Jackson, Cindy Jacobs, Joseph Mattera, Penny Nance (Concerned Women for America), Ralph Reed (Faith and Freedom Coalition), Pat Robertson, Rick Scarborough (Vision America), and Tim Wildmon (American Family Association).

Trump’s outreach doesn’t end there:

Trump campaign surrogates are separately organizing a more official faith advisory committee for the candidate, with Mike Huckabee being discussed as a possible national chairman. Televangelist Paula White, a Trump supporter and a senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, have been organizing the group behind-the-scenes with Tim Clinton, president of the 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors, according to several people familiar with the project.

They Really Love Gridlock, Don’t They?

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2016

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins has joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, and GOP presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in demanding that Justice Scalia’s seat remain vacant until after the next President is sworn in. According to Perkins:

“The Supreme Court has now become the centerpiece in this presidential election. There has not been an election-year nomination in generations and the Senate must not break that trend now. With the election only 269 days away, the people should decide what president should fill this seat,” concluded Perkins.

You can pretty much count on Perkins being wrong whenever he opens his mouth. Within the current generation — well, the current generation of still-living Supreme Court Justices anyway, there is one Justice who was nominated during an election year. That would be Justice Anthony Kennedy, was nominated by Reagan on November 30, 1987. Cruz counters out that, technically speaking it wasn’t yet an election year and this is supposed to matter somehow. But it seems to me that what really ought to matter is that the Dem0cratic-led Senate had no problem with the idea of confirming him on February 18, 1988, which is about the same spot on the Election year calendar as where we are today. You see, that was back in the olden days when having a split government between the White House and the Senate (where Democrats enjoyed a 55-45 majority) was not seen as an excuse for not getting anything done.

Appointing Supreme Court Justices has often been brought with political calculations. That’s why justices who are considering stepping down are nearly always careful to do so in a non-election year. Which is why it’s true that it’s not common to name a new Justice to the bench during an election year. And yet there is a pretty good history of Supreme Court Justices inconveniently dying in office and their replacements getting named and confirmed throughout the history of the Republic. It’s odd seeing a political party that prides itself on constitutional and historical precedence, not to mention the actions of our much-invoked Founding Fathers, ignore that history.

Besides Kennedy, I’ve found these other examples of Supreme Court nominees ascending to the bench during an election year, even sometimes in during extremely contentious election years. There have even been a few notable lame duck appointments in our history:

William Brennan Jr., was named to the Court through a recess appointment by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, just three weeks before the presidential election. Brennan was selected to succeed Sherman Minton, who resigned following a period of declining health and tired from trying to place peacemaker through the many violent personal feuds among his colleagues. Political calculations played an important role in Brennan’s appointment. Eisenhower’s advisers thought that naming a Catholic Democrat to the bench would help solidify Eisenhower’s support in the Northeast. (They needn’t have worried; Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson in a landslide.) When the Senate returned and took up Brennan’s nomination, he faced fierce opposition from the National Liberal League who thought he’d be too beholden to the Vatican, and from Sen. Joseph McCarthy who objected to Brennan’s characterization of McCarthy’s Red Scare as “witch hunts.” McCarthy wound up being the only Senator to vote against Brennan’s confirmation.

Frank Murphy, Attorney General in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, was nominated on January 4, 1940 to fill the seat vacated by the death of Pierce Butler. He was confirmed by the Senate on January 16.

Benjamin N. Cardozo, a well-know Democrat, was appointed by Republican President Herbert Hoover in February 1932 to succeed the legendary Oliver Wendell Holmes. At ninety and in ill health, Holmes had stepped down at the urging of his colleagues.  The New York Times hailed Cardozo’s nomination: “Seldom, if ever, in the history of the Court has an appointment been so universally commended.” The still-Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Cardozo by a unanimous voice vote. The following November, Hoover and more than a hundred Republican Representatives were wiped out in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Democratic landslide.

John Hessin Clarke was nominated by Woodrow Wilson on July 14, 1916, just a few weeks after Clarks Evans Hughes resigned as Associate Justice to run against Wilson in 1916 that year as the Republican Presidential nominee. (Hughes would later be named Chief Justice by Herbert Hoover in 1930.) Clarke was confirmed unanimously on July 24.

Louis Brandeis was nominated by Wilson on January 29, 1916 following the death of Joseph Rucker Lamar four weeks earlier. Brandeis, an Republican economic ally of the Democrat Wilson’s anti-monopoly policies, was so controversial that the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the nomination for the first time in history. This resulted in an unprecedented four months gap between Wilson’s nomination and the Senate’s final confirmation.

Mahlon Pitney, a prominent New Jersey Democrat, was nominated by the Republican President William Howard Taft on March 13, 1912 to fill the seat vacated by Marshall Harlan’s death the previous October. Taft was defeated in his bid for re-election the following November.

Rufus Wheeler Peckham ascended to the bench on January 1896 after having been nominated by President Grover Cleveland the month before. Peckham was selected to fill the seat vacated by Howell Edmunds Jackson’s death. All this happened during Cleveland’s second term of office, which, if you will remember, was not consecutive with his first. Benjamin Harrison had defeated Cleveland in 1888, only to lose to Cleveland four years later. By the way, Peckham was the last Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic president and confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate, although until this year this appears more a product of circumstances than thickheaded GOP posturing. And also by the way, two years earlier, Cleveland nominated Peckham’s brother, Wheeler Hazard Peckham, for a different seat on the Supreme Court. That nomination was blocked in the Senate.

Howell Edmunds Jackson was nominated by Benjamin Harrison on February 2, 1893, nearly three months after Harrison lost his bid for re-election the previous November. (This was when presidential terms began on March 4th. The twentieth amendment changed the start date to January 20 beginning in 1937.)

George Shiras, Jr. was also nominated by Harrison, on July 19, 1892, nearly six months after Justice Joseph P. Bradley’s death, and just a little more than three months before the election that would turn the unpopular Harrison out of office. As unpopular as Harrison had become by 1892 — his economic policies would eventually lead to the Panic of 1893 — he somehow managed to place two Justices on the Supreme Court both during and after his failed bid for re-election.

Melville Fuller was nominated as Chief Justice by Cleveland on April 30, 1888, after the death of Morrison Waite a month earlier. Fuller’s nomination came just a little more than six months before Cleveland lost his bid for re-election to Harrison. Which makes Cleveland the only president to have successfully nominated a Supreme Court justice during two different presidential election years which ended his term in office.

William B. Woods was named to the high court by Rutherford B. Hayes on December 21, 1880, just a few months before Hayes was set to leave office. Hayes, a Republican, was succeeded by another Republican, the ill-fated James Garfield. Associate Justice William Strong waited until after the election to tender his resignation and make way for Woods. As well he should.  Strong was one of five Supreme Court Justices who sat on the Electoral Commission whose sorry task it was to sort out the disputed 1876 Presidential election. Strong and his fellow Republican commission members awarded every disputed vote to “His Fraudulency” Rutherford B. Hayes.

Samuel Nelson was nominated by the Whig President John Tyler in February 1845 following the death of Smith Thompson in December, and just one month before the highly unpopular Tyler was to leave office. Tyler had been so hated that he had to fend of an impeachment attempt by his own party in the House of Representatives. Thanks to his enmity with his fellow Whigs and the lack of support among Democrats, four of his own Cabinet nominations were rejected by the Senate, the most of any president before or since. Tyler also had a difficult time getting a replacement for Thompson through the Senate. Before he hit upon Nelson, Tyler had nominated John Canfield Spencer, and Ruben Walworth. With Nelson, the third time was the charm, and despite the Senate’s animosity toward Tyler nominations, he still managed to get Nelson seated on the high court just before leaving office. (The Whigs themselves would go extinct just nine years later.)

Peter Vivian Daniel was a lame-duck nomination by Martin Van Buren on February 26, 1841, to fill the seat vacated by the death of Philip Pendleton Barbour just one day earlier. Daniel was confirmed two days before the Democrat Van Buren was succeeded by his already-controversial Whig successor, John Tyler.

John Catron was nominated by Andrew Jackson on March 3, 1837, on Andrew Jackson’s last full day as President. This case is unusual because Jackson was given the opportunity to name two new justices after Congress expanded the U.S. Supreme Court from seven to nine members. Catron was the only nominee to accept the nomination, leaving the second seat to be filled by Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren.  The new Senate of the next Congress confirmed Catron’s appointment after Jackson left office. Catron would go on to side with the majority in the Dred Scott decision.

William Johnson was nominated by Thomas Jefferson on March 22, 1804, following the resignation of Alfred Moore the previous January. He was confirmed by the Senate on May 7.

John Marshall, perhaps the most famous and influential of all of the Chief Justices, was nominated to the post by John Adams on January 20, 1801 after the death of Oliver Ellsworth. Adams and his Federalists had lost badly during the 1800 election, and they were about to lose both the Executive Mansion and Congress to Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Adams and the Federalists not only pushed through Marshall’s nomination, but they also passed what became derisively known as the Midnight Judges Act, which reduced the size of the Supreme Court from six members to five (the reduction would occur upon the next vacancy), which meant that it would take two more vacancies before Jefferson could make an appointment. The Judiciary Act of 1801 got its more common name when it was alleged that Adams stayed up until midnight on his last day in office packing the Federal judiciary with his chosen appointments. The controversial law was repealed in 1802, and Jefferson was able to make three appointments to the bench during his eight years in office. Meanwhile, one of those last-minute Adams appointments, William Marbury, went to court to try to force the Jefferson Administration to honor Adams’s commission. That case led to the landmark Marbury v. Madison decision which declared an earlier law that Marbury cited in his attempt to force the commission was itself unconstitutional, thus establishing the doctrine of Judicial Review for all of the courts to come.

Alfred Moore was also nominated by John Adams in April of 1800, seven months before the election that would see the Federalists tossed out of office. Moore was nominated some six months after James Iredell died.

Oliver Ellsworth was nominated by George Washington to be the nation’s third Chief Justice on March 3, 1796, eight months before the election that would make John Adams the nation’s second President. Ellsworth’s nomination closed a contentious chapter in the early history of the Court. In 1795, Washington named John Rutledge as Chief Justice as a recess appointment while the Senate was not in session. Rutledge became Chief Justice on June 30 and on July 16, he have a controversial speech lambasting the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, saying that he’d rather the President would die than sign “that puerile instrument.” That speech cost him support in the Senate, which ratified the treaty with the constitutionally-mandated two-thirds support. By the time the Senate took up Rutledge’s nomination, his support had evaporated and the Senate rejected his appointment.

Samuel Chase was nominated by George Washington on January 26, 1796 to fill the seat made vacant by John Blair’s resignation.

Against that history, I’ve only found six cases where a Supreme Court Justice died or left office and his seat went unfilled until after the next Presidential election:

Earl Warren, the legendary chief justice who will forever be remembered for steering some of the nation’s most important civil rights decisions through the Court, announced his retirement in June 1968. Lyndon Johnson nominated Abe Fortas, already an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, for the top spot. But a coalition of conservative Republicans and Dixiecrats, led by Strom Thurmund rebelled against the Fortas nomination and its likely extension of the Warren Court’s pro-civil rights legacy. Fortas’s case wasn’t helped when it was learned that his moonlighting teaching job came with a lucrative income secretly provided by a group of Wall Street investors. With a full-on filibuster blocking a vote on Fortas’s confirmation, Johnson was forced to withdraw the nomination. Fortas resigned in 1969 as his ethics problems continued to grow. The Supreme Court plodded along without a Chief Justice until Richard Nixon nominated Warren Burger the following June.

Roger B. Taney, the nation’s fifth Chief Justice, died on October 12, 1864, just three weeks before Abraham Lincoln’s successful re-election bid, although by then his soon-to-be landslide re-election was no longer in doubt. Perhaps that explains why Lincoln wasn’t in any hurry to fill the post. Lincoln selected his former Secretary of the Treasurer and longtime frenemy Salmon P. Chase to succeed Taney on December 6, 1864. The Senate confirmed him that very same day.

Peter Vivian Daniel, who himself ascended to the bench as a lame-duck appointment in 1941, died n May 31, 1860 during James Buchanan’s last year in office. Buchanan didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to replace Daniel. Neither was Buchanan’s successor, Abraham Lincoln, who waited until 1862 to name Samuel Freeman Miller to the bench.

John McKinley died on July 19, 1852 as Millard Fillmore was in the middle of his last year in office. Fillmore, the last Whig President, tried three times to fill the vacancy. Three times Fillmore’s nominations were rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Fillmore’s successor, Franklin Pierce, took the rare step of consulting with a group of sitting Supreme Court justices to fill McKinley’s seat. He chose Alabama lawyer John A. Campbell in an attempt to appease southern Senators. The Senate unanimously approved Campbell’s appointment, and he would later form part of the majority for the infamous Dred Scott decision. Meanwhile, the Whigs never recovered form Fillmore’s presidency. The party outlasted Fillmore’s administration by a mere two years.

Henry Baldwin died in 1844 during Tyler’s last year in office. Tyler made two tries to replace him, nominating Edward King, and then John M. Read. The Senate refused both appointments, and the seat remained vacant until James Polk became president. Polk tried two more times to fill the seat, naming James Buchanan (the future president who refused the appointment) and George Washington Woodward, who the Senate refused to confirm. Finally Polk nominated Richard Cooper Grier on August 3, 1846 and the Senate unanimously approved his nomination the next day.

Robert Trimble died on August 25, 1828 during John Quincy Adam’s last year in office. Adams, a Democratic-Republican, nominated John J. Crittenden to fill the spot, but Andrew Jackson’s Democratic supporters in the Senate (who that year had split off from the Democratic-Republican) refused to confirm him. After Jackson became president the following March, he named John McLean to the position.

Republicans are now trying to say that there is a “tradition” of waiting until the next president is elected before filling a Supreme Court vacancy during the president’s last year in office. But it turns out that there is precious little evidence of any such “tradition.” The actual history of the Republic says otherwise, although there are exceptions. And when you look at those exceptions, they are just about always during periods of political crises. Johnson was so badly despised by members of his own party that he had already withdrawn from the primary. Buchanan, well he more or less sit on his hands as a civil war loomed. Fillmore was so disastrous he broke his party for all time, completing a feat that his Whig predecessor, Tyler, very nearly accomplished eight years earlier. And John Quincy Adams had the misfortune of being president just as the anti-establishment Andrew Jackson began his scorched-earth path to the Executive Mansion. The Constitution tells us that the Senate has the obligation to consider any Supreme Court nominations sent its way, but history tells us that when the Senate is broken, it tends to stay broken, at least until the next election comes along and clears the air. Which means that the Republican-led gridlock in Congress now threatens to create a Republican-induced gridlock in the Supreme Court.  Yes, there’s precedent for that, but not a good one.

Schadenfreude Alert: “A Spiritual 9/11”

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

America Family Association’s Tim Wildmon calls it a “Spiritual 9/11”

Tim Wildmon“We’re not surprised but extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision. I fear for our country, quite frankly, because this is a spiritual 9/11, I believe. We have said to God Almighty, We don’t care what you say about marriage and your definition of what’s natural and normal.

“If you look in the scripture, often times when God’s people rebelled against Him, He turned them over to destruction. Christians need to pray for mercy and we need to pray for a revival in the land.

“I think the next line of defense is religious freedom. We must take a stand for religious freedom in this country and fight back in the courts and in the state legislatures, if not the federal legislature, to uphold religious freedom.”

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins’s reaction was a veritable word salad of anti-equality talking points:

tony-perkins-photo“Five justices on the Supreme Court have overturned the votes of 50 million Americans and demanded that the American people walk away from millennia of history and the reality of human nature.

“In reaching a decision so lacking in foundation in the text of the Constitution, in our history, and in our traditions, the Court has done serious damage to its own legitimacy.

“No court can overturn natural law.  Nature and Nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court.

“Marriage is rooted not only in human history, but also in the biological and social reality that children are created by, and do best when raised by, a mother and a father. No court ruling can alter this truth.

“It is folly for the Court to think that it has resolved a controversial issue of public policy. By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, the Court has instead supercharged this issue.

“Just as with Roe v. Wade in 1973, the courts will not have the final say on this profound social matter.  The American people will stand up for their right to have a voice and a vote, especially as they experience the ways in which redefining marriage fundamentally impairs their freedom to live and work in accordance with their beliefs.

“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has set our government on a collision course with America’s cherished religious freedoms, explicitly guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

“Americans will not stop standing for transcendent truth, nor accept the legitimacy of this decision.  Truth is not decided by polls or the passage of time, but by the One who created time and everything that exists therein.

Perkins may have been long-winded, but not nearly as much as National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown. I won’t post the full thing — it’s way to long — but one way to sum it up is to imagine him stamping his foot and screaming, “We’re not irrelevant, damn it!“:

brian brownThough expected, today’s decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.

Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.

The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today’s ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.

Mission America’s Linda Harvey says your children are in danger:

Linda Harvey“Parents, it’s time to make some hard decisions. Your children will now be told in public schools that there is only one view of sexuality and it is that anything goes. Thirteen year olds can ‘date’ people of the same sex and go full speed into the homosexual life, and any efforts to prevent them from doing so will be subject to restraint by the full force of law. And so, God help us,” she said.

“The majority on this court has defied the testimony of nature, anatomy, history and Almighty God. Jesus declared marriage to be one man and one woman in Matthew 19,” Harvey stated. “Because of this arrogant and unsustainable decision, America now stands in defiance of God, and we can only pray now for His mercy on our nation.”

Austin Ruse gets his dystopian imagination worked up over  “what’s next“:

Austin RuseWhat’s next? It is hard to tell.

Proponents of abortion thought Roe v. Wade effectively ended that debate, but recent history has shown that to be abundantly false.

But the road ahead is decidedly uphill for those who support traditional marriage. Some have already called for a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Others have called for an incremental battle that would include federal and state protections for those who oppose same-sex marriage. This would include protection for county clerks who may resist issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The fear now is that the federal government, under urging from the gay community, will work to stamp out any vestige of opposition or even dissent, including eliminating accreditation and tax exempt status for religious schools that do not recognize same-sex marriages.

Rose’s imagination isn’t nearly as colorful as Scott Lively’s though. Lively is positively apocalyptic:’

Scott LivelyIn response to the ruling, Mr. Obama called it an example of “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.” That phrase turns logic and morality on its head as it relates to official government endorsement of sexual perversion. But I suspect it will eventually, perhaps very soon, be recognized in retrospect as an unwitting prophecy about God’s punishment on America for what she has just done.


12:30pm  I just received an email from my ex-‘gay’ friend Greg Quinlan informing me that today’s “gay marriage” ruling happens to fall on the anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah in 586BC to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzer: the ninth day of the fourth month of the Hebrew calendar.

“Coincidentally,” in our daily chapter by chapter Bible study at Holy Grounds Coffee House that we began in Genesis more than two years ago, we arrived today at Jeremiah 39, which reads in verse 2:  2And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through.



Now consider all of this in light of Revelation 16: 17Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” 18And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19The great city [Jerusalem] was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great [America] was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.

Michael Brown lies about Irish vote

Timothy Kincaid

May 27th, 2015


Anti-gay activist and Charlotte pastor Michael Brown has long been fond of demonstrating his contempt for gay people, his callousness towards bullying, and his astonishing arrogance as to his own discernment of truth. He will twist and turn any factlet that he encounters and has less credibility than your ordinary used car salesman, but generally he has, in our interactions, avoided demonstrably false declaration of observable facts.

Not so today.

In a desire to “explain” the decision of the people of Ireland to include gay Irish citizens fully into civil life – or to do so in a way that demonizes gay people (his favorite tactic) – Brown repeats a lie and calls it “absolutely right”.

In a hit piece hosted by Family Research Counsel’s American Family Research’s OneNewsNow, Brown pushed his theme of “tried and true tactics of bullying, intimidation, media bombardment, aggressive activism, and massive U.S. funding” by the horrible horrible gays. And as evidence, he presents a letter that he claims is from “a woman who supports our ministry and lives in Ireland”:

We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of US dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire, Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million.

See there! Americans paid for the Yes campaign! Feeney gave $24 million!

Except that isn’t true. Not even close. It’s a false statement presented by The Irish Catholic and the National Catholic Register and other opponents of equality in an effort to conflate social pressure efforts with a political referendum so as to suggest that the results are not valid. For example:

Between 2004 and 2014, Feeney’s foundation virtually created the gay-rights movement in Ireland, with direct investment of more than $17 million and priceless indirect support, according to Breda O’Brien, a Catholic columnist at The Irish Times, research compiled on the blog Yes Funding Exposed and Atlantic Philanthropies’ own website and reports.

Wow, that certainly sounds damning. Except that the referendum hasn’t been going on since 2004. And most of the funds had nothing at all to do with same sex marriage.

Here’s what happened: Mr. Feeney and many others both in and outside Ireland have contributed over the years to various groups, including those who have the goals of advocating for gay Irish people. And part of their efforts include public outreach to change hearts and minds as to how one treats your gay son, niece, or neighbor. And, over time, part of that discussion included the notion that civil services should be offered to gay people on the same terms as straight people, including the rights of marriage.

In 2010, the government set in place civil unions so as to offer rights without the prestige of marriage. They argued that the nation’s constitution prohibited same-sex marriage and only through a vote of the people could that be change.

Then, a few years ago, a referendum was set by the government and scheduled for 2015. Campaigns were created to support or oppose the referendum.

But Ireland bans foreign contributions to political referendums. And, after accusations by the No Campaign, the press made inquiries. (TheGuardian)

Atlantic Philanthropies declined to answer questions about the claims, but backers of the yes campaign firmly rejected them. They said their group adhered to the strict rules on campaign funding set up by Ireland’s Standards in Public Office (Sipo) commission. The Sipo register of lobby groups shows that at least 10 of the pro-gay marriage organisations have fully complied with its rules, including a ban on foreign donations.

Brian Sheehan, the co-director of pro-gay marriage group Yes Equality, said: “Atlantic Philanthropies are not funding the Yes Equality referendum campaign. Yes Equality is fully funded through its supporters organising fundraising initiatives throughout Ireland.

“In addition we ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise monies for our poster, bus tour and booklet campaigns. All elements of the Yes Equality campaign are appropriately registered with the Standards in Public Office commission. Yes Equality is entirely dependent on generous small donations from around the country. The average donation made to Yes Equality has been €70.”

Get that? The Yes Campaign registered it’s fund with an oversight agency and the media verified their compliance. Feeney’s funds may have gone to various groups, but none went to the Yes Campaign.

Now Brown and others may say that this is splitting hairs, a mere technicality. They might argue that because Mr. Feeney funded organizations that advocate for marriage equality, he is funding the campaign in a more general sense. He’s not actually funding buttons and flyers and posters, maybe, but he’s helping fund groups that are pro-gay so it’s all the same really.

But that is nonsense. A contribution to Amnesty International is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. A contribution to a Child and Family Agency is not a contribution to the Yes Campaign. Even if some members of each group – like most Irish – voted Yes.

It makes as much sense to say that anyone who has given to the Catholic Church in Ireland is “funding the No Campaign”. After all, Catholic Bishops called for the adherents to go to polls and vote No.

There is a difference between funding organizations with an ideological bent and who seek a social position, and funding an actual campaign for a referendum. This is a clear distinction and one that Michael Brown knows well.

But, as is becoming more and more the case with anti-gay activists, honesty holds little currency. And it appears to me that Michael Brown has taken the step from truth-spinner and fact-bender to blatant liar.

UPDATE: Michael Brown has issued a rebuttal in which he states that he is not a pastor.

Where Do You Begin With Something Like This?

Jim Burroway

May 22nd, 2015

Welcome_Duggar_612x187How about with a little bit of snark? Throughout the Family “Research” Council’s 32-year history, it has promoted the lie that gays and lesbians were far more likely to molest children, even though it is not and never has been true. In fact, we now know that, at least as of yesterday, it’s FRC leaders who are statistically much more likely to molest kids than pretty much any other group.

That fact came to light after Josh Duggar, the executive director of FRC Action, the group’s political lobbying arm, resigned amid allegations that he had molested at least five girls between 2002 and 2003.

Josh Duggar joined the Family “Research” Council in 2013 to become their rock-star anti-gay activist. Last December, he led successful effort to defeat an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He charged that the ordinance would pose a threat to children, an argument that his mother, Michelle Duggar, repeated in a robocall to voters. ThinkProgress has a pretty good round-up of examples of Josh Duggar’s lectures on family values. As FRC’s superstar political executive, he campaigned on behalf of ultra-conservative candidates in Kansas, Virginia, and Mississippi, and he’s had so many photos and selfies taken with GOP presidential aspirants that there’s an entire Tumbler dedicated to them.

DuggerFRCJosh Duggar reached his rock-star status as the scion of the humongous Duggar clan, headed by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. The family follows a strict form of conservative Christianity which includes the Quiverfull and Christian Patriarchy movements. The names of those movements are suggestive. The Quiverfull movement eschews birth control so that families can raise up large numbers of children as foot soldiers for Christ, while the Christian Patriarchy movement teaches that families must follow a strict patriarchal order. Millions of viewers have become familiar with these movements through the Duggars’ TLC reality series “19 kids and counting.” It had debuted as “17 Kids and Counting” in 2008. That series grew out of a series of TLC specials, including “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” (2005),  Raising 16 Children” (2005), and “16 Children and Moving In” (2005), in which they move into a 7,000 square-foot house that was partly built by TLC.

But it was at about that time when Springdale, Arkansas, police had opened a felony investigation against the Duggar’s oldest son, Josh. The scandal magazine InTouch Weekly broke the story yesterday, that Springdale police opened their investigation following a tip from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, which had received an email from an un-named Arkansas resident detailing some of Josh’s molestations. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette added that at the same time Harpo Studios passed on the email to authorities, Springdale police were notified about a letter “containing allegations of improper touching in the Duggar home. The report says the letter, written 31/2 years earlier, had been found in a book lent by a family friend of the Duggars to someone else.”

Police followed up and interviewed Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who said that they learned in March 2002 that Josh, then 14, had, on multiple occasions, touched another girl’s breasts and genitals while she slept. Their reaction? They “disciplined (Josh) after this incident,” but otherwise kept quiet.

Then nine months later, they found out that “there was another incident” — actually incidents, as multiple girls were involved. This time, Jim Bob consulted church elders — none of whom reported the abuse to authorities — and promised to send Josh to a “program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling.” That “program” appears to have been little more than helping out a family friend in the remodeling business for three months, although new reports are emerging that the family friend, Harold Walker, was a former leader at the Little Rock-based Institute in Basic Life Principles Training Center. The faith based and unaccredited center was founded by Bill Gothard, who resigned after more than thirty young women and teenagers claimed they were sexually harassed by Gothard.

After Josh returned from Arkansas, Jim Bob took him to family friend and Arkansas State Trooper, Jim Hutchens, who gave Josh a “very stern talk,” but otherwise took no official action. Hutchens, it turns out, is serving a 56-year prison on child porn charges. When police asked to talk to Josh, the Duggars lawyered up — after two lawyers refused to take the case — and refused to cooperate further. The investigated ended in late 2000 because the statute of limitations ran out. The Democrat-Gazette reports however than investigators filed a “family in need of services” affidavit in Juvenile Court, which resulted in a trial in 2007. The records of that trial are sealed.

Well, now that this has come to light, TLC has announced that they are pulling “19 Kids and Counting” from their schedule. That was after having unwisely run a three-hour “19 Kids and Counting” marathon last night, which provoked a giant social media backlash. Another seven-hour marathon had been scheduled for tonight.

Immediately following Josh Duggar’s resignation, the Family “Research” Council issued the following statement:

“Today Josh Duggar made the decision to resign his position as a result of previously unknown information becoming public concerning events that occurred during his teenage years.

“Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work. We believe this is the best decision for Josh and his family at this time. We will be praying for everyone involved,” concluded (FRC President Tony) Perkins.

You can bet that this statement is a very far cry from the one they would have released had it been the oldest son of a famous same-sex couple who had been accused of molesting children. It’s also interesting that FRC posted the statement to its front page where it will likely disappear over the weekend, instead of to a dedicated press release where it might remain available for future reference. Meanwhile, the Dugger family — Jim Bob and Michelle, Josh, and his wife Anna — posted these three statements on Facebook:

From Jim Bob and Michelle:

Back 12 years ago our family went through one of the most difficult times of our lives. When Josh was a young teenager, he made some very bad mistakes and we were shocked. We had tried to teach him right from wrong. That dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before. Even though we would never choose to go through something so terrible, each one of our family members drew closer to God. We pray that as people watch our lives they see that we are not a perfect family. We have challenges and struggles everyday. It is one of the reasons we treasure our faith so much because God’s kindness and goodness and forgiveness are extended to us — even though we are so undeserving. We hope somehow the story of our journey — the good times and the difficult times — cause you to see the kindness of God and learn that He can bring you through anything.

From Josh:

Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

From Anna:

I can imagine the shock many of you are going through reading this. I remember feeling that same shock. It was not at the point of engagement, or after we were married – it was two years before Josh asked me to marry him. When my family and I first visited the Duggar Home, Josh shared his past teenage mistakes. I was surprised at his openness and humility and at the same time didn’t know why he was sharing it. For Josh he wanted not just me but my parents to know who he really was — even every difficult past mistakes. At that point and over the next two years, Josh shared how the counseling he received changed his life as he continued to do what he was taught. And when you, our sweet fans, first met me when Josh asked me to marry him… I was able to say, “Yes” knowing who Josh really is – someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right. I want to say thank you to those who took time over a decade ago to help Josh in a time of crisis. Your investment changed his life from going down the wrong path to doing what is right. If it weren’t for your help I would not be here as his wife — celebrating 6 1/2 years of marriage to a man who knows how to be a gentleman and treat a girl right. Thank you to all of you who tirelessly work with children in crisis, you are changing lives and I am forever grateful for all of you.

Do you notice what’s included in these statements? God has forgiven him and so should you. Also, they’re closer to God now. (Is that supposed to make it okay? I wonder how Josh’s victims feel.) And lots of concern for Josh’s well-being in this “difficult time” — but don’t worry. He’s moved on and is much better now.

Notice what’s missing? Any mention of his victims or their difficult times, which must undoubtedly stretch back at least a dozen years and is being revived all over again today. How are they doing today? Are they thankful for their “journey”?

This is more than mere hypocrisy. That word is far too trivial to use here. This is abusive, both in the original acts of molestation, and in the parents unconscionable decision to turn their entire family into a public spectacle. Because here’s the thing: At least one of the victims was a daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle.* That fact right there, which they well knew at the time and were busy sweeping under the rug, makes their decision to turn their entire family reality TV starts all the more revolting. For the sake of their pride and the opportunity to become big-time TV stars and culture war activists, they coerced at least one sexual abuse victim in their own family to smile and pretend that nothing was wrong. I can’t imagine too many things more vile than that.

* A number of other sites have reported this detail about Josh’s victims, and it’s not too difficult to find out more, including the precise numbers and other details. I recognize how important it is to keep sexual abuse victims’ details private, and I struggled with whether to provide this information here. But I decided to include this because it is particularly germane to a broader issue of abuse that goes beyond Josh’s activities and the parents’ egregious response. Please do no disclose any further details about the victims in the comments. They will be deleted, without exception.

Tony Perkins: “Winning!”

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2014

Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins has cornered the market on rose-colored glasses this afternoon:

Tony PerkinsIf liberals should be anything, it’s worried. When it comes to marriage, time is not on their side. Deep down, the Left knows it needed the Court to force same-sex “marriage” on America before more people saw the fallout for Christians like Aaron and Melissa Klein. Or sportscasters like Craig James. Or CEOs like Brandon Eich. Ask them if same-sex “marriage” is just about two people who love each other. For them, it was about losing their business, their livelihood, and their freedom.

If the Supreme Court thinks America isn’t ready for same-sex “marriage,” they’re right. As more states are forced to recognize it, people will see the ensuing attacks on religious freedom. They’ll feel the wedge driven between parents and their children when school curriculum is changed to contradict the morals moms and dads are teaching at home. They’ll shudder as more people lose their jobs because they refuse to celebrate (not just tolerate) same-sex “marriage.” Maybe then they’ll realize that the true goal is not about the marriage altar — but fundamentally altering society.

As disappointing as the Supreme Court’s silence is, the good news is that the debate over same-sex “marriage” will continue. With 92 cases on marriage flooding the courts, conservatives have a chance to push back and demand that Congress step in where SCOTUS has not. By refusing to get involved in a mess it helped create, the justices are leaving our laws vulnerable to rogue judges on the lower courts. With the exception of one district court, the benches have been filled with black-robed tyrants who insist on substituting their radical ideology for history, legal precedent, and the consensus of voters and the law. That has to stop.

Working Through the Five Steps of Grief

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2014

The first step in the Kübler-Ross model is denial and the second step is anger, but leave it to anti-gay activists to go through the steps in the wrong order. They hit anger first, but now they’re backtracking to denial:

And Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance:

“It is important to note that the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex ‘marriage.’ They have merely declined to address the issue at this point in time, and that is actually better than imposing their view of marriage on the whole country. Americans are having a robust debate on this important issue, and for the Supreme Court to interrupt that debate and decide the issue for the country would be disastrous.”

And then there’s this, from the Family Policy Institute of Washington:

However, this is certainly not the final word on this subject either in the courts or in the culture. In the courts, there are several other cases working their way up through the system. The Supreme Court could be waiting for one of those cases to delay their final decision a couple of years. Culturally, the conversation over this issue is just getting started. In one sense, proponents of redefining marriage are just finishing their opening argument. Time will afford the chance for a rebuttal.

…In thirty years, it is the children of same-sex relationships who will be arguing most forcefully on our behalf. That is not because those children will hate the same-sex couples who raised them but because they will be immune to the argument that the only possible reason to support natural marriage is because you hate gay people. They will also have a perspective that those who deal only in theory and never in practice will have no response for.

The other steps are bargaining, depression and acceptance. I’m not sure where delusional falls into the scheme of things.

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