Travis County GOP Promotes Anti-Muslim Screed That Also Calls George W. Bush a ‘Coward and Traitor’

The Travis County Republican Party here in Austin dived into the deep end of the crazy pool Monday evening:


The tweet (which was removed late this morning) links to a blog post on the Conservative Daily News website. The hate-filled screed starts this way:

“Christianity is a religion but Islam is merely a satanic cult of rape, torture, murder, bestiality, and satan worship!!!!!”

It’s all downhill from there, with the writer demonstrating (despite his protests) an almost unhinged hatred for Muslims. But he also attacks George W. Bush, calling the Republican former president a “coward and traitor.” He even goes after other Christians, notably the Roman Catholic Church. Some choice passages:

“I remember an instance in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein where a group of ‘jihadists’ fired on American soldiers then hid in a mosque. The Americans returned fire, causing minor damage. The ‘outrage’ of the worldwide islamic cult and the Bush hating ‘American’ media was vociferous. The American government led by the coward and traitor George Bush immediately dispatched millions of dollars to the islamist terrorists to pay homage to allah/satan but before any repairs were made the other sect of the satanic cult blew it up with a truck bomb. The total destruction of the house of satan was met with silence from moslems and the ‘American’ media.”

“The catholic church is very prominent in the importation of members of the satanic cult of islam while ignoring middle east Christians who are being slaughtered by islamic satanists.”

“Liberals in America stand with the Godless islamic cult against Christianity.”

“Those who constantly scream ‘separation of church and state’ in regards to the legitimate religion of Christianity ( the religion this nation is based on) have no issue with the satanic cult of islam being taught to their children in the public schools.”

“I wonder how long it will be until God destroys this nation (as He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) for the cruelty to the innocent, and its promotion of immorality and satan worship.”

The Travis County GOP’s tweet went up a little after 10:30 p.m. on Monday. So now we know what kind of crazy stuff the folks over there are reading late at night.

Posted in Islam, TFNEF | 12 Comments

Presidential Candidates and Religious Tests

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said this past weekend that he would oppose the election of a Muslim as American president because Islam (he believes) is in conflict with the the Constitution. But today we read that while Carson has a personal religious test for candidates seeking the presidency, he failed a similar religious test earlier this year.

Talking Points Memo reports that a Texas pastor was among critics who earlier this year strongly protested an invitation for Carson to speak at a Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference. Their concerns? They thought Carson’s personal religious beliefs are theologically suspect.

In particular, critics complained that Carson’s membership in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church was a problem. Bart Barber, a Southern Baptist pastor in Farmersville just northwest of Dallas, was one of the critics. Here’s part of what he wrote in a blog post last spring:

“Southern Baptists have classified Seventh-Day Adventists not as a church but as a sect. We have stopped short of anathematizing them, but we have identified aspects of their beliefs that are sub-Christian and harmful.”

Following those kinds of complaints, Carson was essentially disinvited from speaking at the event.

This isn’t the first time a Republican’s religious beliefs got him in trouble with religious-righters who make up the base of the GOP. You might recall that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism caused heartburn among conservative evangelical Christians during the Republican presidential nomination contest in 2012. Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, for example, characterized Mormonism as a non-Christian cult (although he held his nose and supported Romney in the general election campaign against President Obama). In his March blog post, Barber also calls Mormonism a cult.

We won’t get into the theological differences between Southern Baptists and Seventh-Day Adventists (or Mormons). We also won’t criticize people of faith who want only members of their own religious denomination to serve as speakers at their religious events. That’s their right.

We’ll simply point out the wisdom of our nation’s founders in insisting that the Constitution prevent government from favoring or disfavoring religion or any particular religious faith. While voters may base their balloting decisions on any reasons they choose, government is rightly bound by the constitutional principles of separation of church and state and no religious tests for public office. We should all be thankful for that, regardless of our religious beliefs.

Posted in Ben Carson, religious freedom, TFNEF | 8 Comments

The Week in Quotes (Sept. 13 – 19)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

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Defending the Indefensible

It didn’t take long for the wackaloons on the right to start defending the arrest of a 14-year-old Muslim student in the North Texas city of Irving for making a clock and bringing it to show his teachers. But it was so predictable.

Anti-Muslim hysteric Alice Linahan here in Texas is using social media in an aggressive defense of Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest. She is especially supportive of Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, also an anti-Muslim hysteric who has defended Irving police for arresting Ahmed Mohamed and taking him from his school in handcuffs. Here’s an excerpt from Linahan’s rambling post on her Voices Empower website:

What we are witnessing today by the media and unfortunately by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama; as he invited this young student to the white house for a visit.  This is an attempt to use “forced equality”  based on discrimination and Islamophobia, to shift how we as Americans perceive the world. This is known as critical theory or cultural marxism. This is a clear national security threat because it robs us of “Situational Awareness,” which gives us the ability to protect ourselves from threats both foreign and domestic.

Good grief. That weird word salad reaches almost the incoherence level of a Sarah Palin rant.

In the same post, Linahan also ties what happened with Ahmed to the mythical threat of Sharia — Islamic law — in America:

There are people with varying political agendas who are taking advantage of the revolution underway to fundamentally transform education in America, I.E. (Common Core/21st Century Learning) with the goal of global domination. One of the most dangerous is the push for “Sharia” across the world.

As defined in the book “Sharia, a Threat to America”- “Civilization jihad is a form of political and psychological warfare that includes multi-layered cultural subversion, the co-opting of senior leaders, influence operations, propaganda and other means of insinuating shariah gradually into Western societies.”

In the West a fundamental shift is beginning to be felt, as the American idea of individual freedom clashes with the political purpose of control and submission. The outcome will depend on if individuals refuse to submit.

Sorry, Alice. Ahmed wasn’t on a mission to impose “Sharia” on America. He’s a bright student who was proud of the clock he built and brought it to school to show his teachers. Regardless of whether those teachers really thought he built a bomb, it should have been clear to most folks that, on inspection, it wasn’t. And it’s hard to see any rational defense for interrogating the boy without his parents present, then arresting him and marching him out of his school in handcuffs like he’s a criminal. (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott agrees, by the way.)

Linahan, as you might recall, spearheaded the witch hunt two year ago targeting CSCOPE, a popular curriculum package used at the time in hundreds of Texas school districts. Critics made wild and unsubstantiated claims (and still do) that CSCOPE was promoting Marxism, Islam and an anti-American and anti-Christian bias in Texas public schools. In fact, Irving schools were among the anti-CSCOPE battlegrounds.

Linahan had the support (of course) of far-right members of the State Board of Education (SBOE) in her anti-CSCOPE crusade. And she even stood at a Texas Capitol press conference press conference with David Dewhurst when the then-lieutenant governor joined the attacks on CSCOPE. The anti-CSCOPE jihad finally fizzled after an SBOE investigation showed that the claims were nonsense. But that wasn’t before Linahan’s mob and state politicians forced the gutting of the program.

Posted in Alice Linahan, Islam, TFNEF | 11 Comments

‘Pure Fiction’ from Another Anti-Abortion Extremist

Republican candidates in Wednesday night’s presidential debate threw out plenty of red meat for their base supporters. Among the biggest examples were attacks on women’s access to abortion care.

Candidate Carly Fiorina made one of the most bizarre claims when she said the deceptively edited anti-Planned Parenthood videos that anti-abortion extremists have been touting in recent weeks include this chilling scene: “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

“Pure fiction,” writes Sarah Kliff at Vox:

Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage.

The videos were produced by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that argues Planned Parenthood has profited from procuring fetal tissue for researchers. The videos do show Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, sometimes in ways that are callous and jarring. But there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes.

There are two Planned Parenthood sting videos that were shot inside Planned Parenthood clinics (other videos exist, taped at conferences and lunch meetings). One was taped in Louisiana and the other in Colorado. And in both videos, Planned Parenthood employees do work with the fetal tissue, showing the pro-life advocates posing as tissue buyers the different parts of the body.

But the things Fiorina describes — the legs kicking, the intact “fully formed fetus,” the heart beating, the remarks about having to “harvest its brain” — are pure fiction. …

Either Fiorina hasn’t watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage. Because what she says happens in the Planned Parenthood videos simply does not exist.

Keep that in mind as you listen to politicians pander to anti-abortion extremists. They’re making arguments based on lies. Carly Fiorina demonstrated that quite clearly on Wednesday night.

Posted in abortion, TFNEF | 5 Comments

Welcome to the 21st Century

Sort of. From Associated Press:

Alabama is updating its decade-old science standards to require that students understand evolution and learn about climate change, topics that can still be controversial in the Bible Belt state.

Educators say the new rules — part of a major change that includes more experimentation and hands-on instruction and less lecturing — don’t require that students believe in evolution or accept the idea that climate is changing globally.

But public school students will be required for the first time to understand the theory of evolution. And teachers will be required to address climate change, which wasn’t a focus the last time the state set science standards in 2005.

Unfortunately, Alabama still requires textbooks to cast doubt on evolution. From the same story:

Textbooks used in Alabama science classes have carried a disclaimer sticker for years stating that evolution is a “controversial theory,” not fact, and the new course of study doesn’t change the warnings, which were advocated by Christian conservatives.

Back in 2009, the State Board of Education in Texas approved new curriculum standards that creationists hoped would force publishers to include discredited arguments attacking evolution in their new textbooks. But the Texas Freedom Network worked with partner organizations to make sure that didn’t happen — and, in 2013, we succeeded.

Posted in climate change, evolution, TFNEF | 10 Comments

A Tribute to Leticia Van de Putte

Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat who served in the Texas Senate from 1999 to 2015, has long been a friend of the Texas Freedom Network. We have been proud to stand with her on a host of important issues, such as supporting women’s access to reproductive health care services, including abortion care, and reining in the ability of extremists on the State Board of Education to politicize public school classrooms.

So we were pleased to see the following poem, written by Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla of San Antonio, honoring Van de Putte. Tafolla read the poem at a August 22 event in San Antonio. In honor of Leticia and with the permission of Tafolla, we’re posting the poem here:

The Leticia Stories: a tribute to a life of service

by Carmen Tafolla

You hear them everywhere,
The Leticia Stories.
Stories that make people roll with laughter,
riverflow with tears,
waterfall with love
swell with pride.
The Leticia Stories.
Almost too good to be real.
But you know they
ARE real
because SHE
is real.
The one who interrupts
her fresh-wound funeral grief
because she is needed
in the Senate
at 12 minutes to midnight
to say what no one else could say
in quite that raw-honest or gut-strong a way

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Americans Oppose Kim Davis: Individual Religious Beliefs Don’t Trump Equality Under the Law

Religious-right activists and politicians like Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz have been scrambling over each other to proclaim their support for Kim Davis. But a new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Kentucky clerk’s refusal, on religious grounds, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Released this morning, the ABC News/Washington Post poll includes a couple of key questions on religion and  marriage. The verdict: most Americans say one’s individual religious beliefs aren’t more important than equality under the law for all.

In general, when there’s a conflict between (someone’s religious beliefs) and (the need to treat everyone equally under the law), which do you think is more important?

Religious beliefs: 19%
Equal under the law: 74%
No opinion: 6%

As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry. Nonetheless a county clerk in Kentucky has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, saying she objects on religious grounds. Do you think this county clerk should or should not be required to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples?

Required to issue: 63%
Not required to issue: 33%
No opinion: 4%

Posted in LGBT issues, marriage equality, religious freedom, TFNEF | 5 Comments

The Week in Quotes (Sept. 6 – 12)

Here are some of the week’s most notable quotes culled from news reports from across Texas, and beyond.

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The Marriage of Ted Cruz and David Barton

It’s a political marriage, at any rate.

David Barton, the religious right’s favorite phony historian and political propagandist, is taking over leadership of the super-PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz. According to the Bloomberg news service, Keep the Promise PAC is the umbrella organization for a group of related pro-Cruz political committees that raised $38 million in the first half of the year.

Barton is one of the most politically influential far-right, Christian evangelicals in America. He served for a decade as vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party and in 2004 helped the Republican National Committee recruit conservative evangelicals to support President George W. Bush’s re-election.

Barton and his WallBuilders’ organization, which is based in Aledo near Fort Worth, argue that separation of church and state is a “myth” and that the nation’s founders intended to create a distinctly Christian nation with its government and laws based on the Bible (or at least a fundamentalist Christian reading of the Bible).

Barton also is a self-styled historian, but his undergraduate work was in religious education. His collection of historical documents impresses some folks, his ability to critically analyze and accurately interpret such documents much less so. Three years ago, for example, Thomas Nelson Publishing ceased publication and distribution of Barton’s The Jefferson Lies after historians criticized the book’s distortions and inaccuracies. (A scholar noted many problems in a report for the TFN Education Fund.)

Barton’s appointment to head the pro-Cruz super-PAC isn’t a big surprise — Cruz clearly is pushing hard to win the support of the conservative evangelicals who are so influential in the Republican Party. Cruz’s appeals to religious-righters have always been over-the-top, but — especially since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage in June — that rhetoric has become almost incendiary.

Barton’s rhetoric is also similarly divisive and inflammatory. (Earlier this year, for example, Barton suggested that AIDS is a punishment from God.)

Cruz and Barton appear to be a well-matched couple. They surely are hoping their political marriage is a match made in heaven and confirmed on election day.

(H/T to John Fea’s great blog about religion, history and politics)

Posted in David Barton, Ted Cruz, TFNEF | 7 Comments