Category Archives: Fibbing for Jesus

Speaking of taking it up the ass …

… our old friend Ted Haggard in back in the news. No stranger to this blog, Haggard was the golden boy of the lunatic Christian right until three years ago when his career as a megachurch pastor and de facto Bush administration advisor disappeared in a blizzard of methamphetamine and cockmeat.

After a lengthy sojourn during which he solicited donations to pay his living expenses while he pursued a counseling degree, using a convicted sex criminal as his collection agent, Ted is back in his $700,000 house in Colorado Springs. He and his lovely wife Gayle hosted a big ol’ prayer meetin’ on Thursday night.  In true hebephrenic Christian conservative style, Haggard observed:

“For the people who come tonight, that means they believe in the resurrection in me,” he told reporters before the start of the meeting Thursday night. “Because I died. I was buried.”

So, yeah. Ted is now zombified. Or something. And that’s a good thing for some reason. Maybe he’s saying that the “good” part of him is still alive; only the part that was into penis and meth died. Or maybe not. If anyone knows what Ted is trying to say here, please be so kind as to pass it along.

Haggard also wants us to know that he was never, ever a hateful anti-gay preacher. All that stuff about gays being an abomination was love, you see.

In addition, going through that silly ol’ gay sex scandal “was good for me as a heterosexual evangelical Christian, father of five, 30-year husband of Gayle.” As a result of all those Christians THINKING Ted was gay and hating him for it, his “compassion for the homosexual community has gone up incredibly.” Accepting multiple dicks in his mouth and anus no doubt helped with the compassion thing as well.

Anyhow, Ted says he’s looking to make a “comeback,” and judging from the fifty or so cars parked outside his house for the prayer meeting he’s well on his way. A fundy and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place, and rarely stay together very long. In the final analysis, that’s a fundamental truth Haggard can really believe in. And exploit the hell out of.

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Ted Haggard: Class up the Ass

Disgraced former megachurch pastor and man-penis/methamphetamine enthusiast Ted Haggard is no stranger to this blog. Soon he will be no stranger to fans of the syndicate judge show Divorce Court, either.

Ted and his lovely wife, Gayle, continued their relentless efforts at restoring shine and functionality to the Haggard money making machine by sitting for an interview a few days back with Divorce Court “Judge” Lynn Toler. The show airs on April 1.

Lest there be any doubt about the matter, Gayle says:

Biblical principals of forgiveness, compassion, steadfastness and her husband’s genuine repentance helped Gayle through the darkest hours, she said, and she believes his struggles have deepened his Christian walk.

“I think he is better equipped to minister to people than ever before,” she said.

That’s right: better equipped to minister than ever before. It’s amazing what a Schedule I controlled substance and a dick up the ass will do for ya, eh Ted?

In any event, this teevee appearance comes hot on the heels of Haggard’s HBO documentary and the shitstorm of publicity accompanying that little venture. The Denver Post article linked above reveals that Ted and Gayle received an “undisclosed amount” for their Divorce Court appearance, and that Ted has multiple speaking engagements scheduled at “prominent U.S. evangelical churches.” Expect fleecing of the faithful and stupid to begin in earnest very soon.

Right wing religious nuts unite behind McCain

So perhaps you’ve been thinking that John “Walnuts” McCain isn’t religiously insane enough to garner substantial support among the extreme Christian right. Forget it. Unhand your Johnson, Skippy, and breathe deep the odious stench of reality.

One hundred fairly well known wingnut Christian extremists met in Denver, CO on July 1 and “agreed to unify behind the Arizona senator for president.” Although the wingers aren’t deliriously happy with Walnuts, they’re convinced that he’ll be far more supportive of the Christian right agenda than presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Attendees included Mat Staver, dean of Falwell-founded Liberty Law School (who arranged the meeting), Phyllis Schalfly, Wendy Wright, Tim and Bev LaHaye, David Barton, Phil Burress, Kelly Shackelford, Don Hodel and representatives of Focus on the Family and the American Family Association.

The group also endorsed a Declaration of American Values (pdf, 1 page). Clicking on that link is for the strong of stomach only. It’s mostly just heinous, but it has amusing components as well, particularly adherence to the laughable view that Jesus was some sort of supply-siding free marketeer.

Gideons take another judicial whuppin’

The Gideon Society loves distributing Bibles in public schools. What’s more, all too many school boards love letting them do it.

Fortunately enough, courts haven’t been taking too kindly to such unconstitutional shenanigans. Here and here we discussed Doe v. South Iron R-1 School District. This week brings us Roe v. Tangipahoa Parish Sch. Bd. (pdf, 11 pages), decided on Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Seems that the principal of a Louisiana public middle school, acting on instructions from the school board, allowed the Gideons to distribute Bibles to students outside his office. The principal advised all fifth grade teachers that the Gideons would be there on a particular day and instructed the teachers to tell students about the goings-on. The principal also told teachers to advise students that taking a Bible was entirely voluntary.

Judge Carl J. Barbier held that the Bible distribution violated not one, not two, but all three of the standards for determining whether a governmental entity has violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: the tripartite test of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971); the coercion test of Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992); and the endorsement test of Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989). The nominally voluntary nature of the event was, well, nominal, and did nothing to save it.

Soldiers in the Army of the Lord that they are, the school board members voted unanimously to appeal.

Get yer free creationist shlock right here!

Thanks to Troy over at Playing Chess with Pigeons for pointing me toward this place, where you can get your hands on all sorts of free stuff for promoting the “intelligent design” “movie” Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, previously discussed here.

Actually, I don’t know whether to thank Troy or to say nasty shit about his momma. There’s some pretty heinous stuff available for download at that link.

Particularly odious is the gargantuan, thirteen-page, four-color brochure titled “Leader’s Guide.” I’ve read maybe two and a half pages and plan to continue as soon as my eyes stop bleeding. A critique of the “Leader’s Guide” is available here.

For now, suffice it to say that the political movement known as “intelligent design” trundles on as hamfistedly and disingenuously as ever.

Sputter on, Roy Moore

Some people simply refuse to bear disgrace gracefully, and disgraced former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is one of them.

You remember Roy Moore, right? Under cover of darkness and with the able assistance of now-deceased theocrat D. Jimmy Kennedy, Moore installed a gargantuan 5,300-pound granite Ten Commandments monument in a common area of the Alabama Judicial Building. Moore then disregarded a federal court order to remove the monstrosity. The federal court took steps to enforce its order, prompting emotional demonstrations by idolaters that featured much wailing, praying, gnashing of teeth and carrying of “Keep Your Hands Off My God” signs.

One particularly entertaining aspect of the Moore circus was the Eleventh Circuit decision Glassroth v. Moore, 335 F.3d 1282 (11th Cir. 2003) (pdf, 50 pages), in which Judge Ed Carnes not only upheld the trial court’s holding that the monument violated the Establishment Clause but also delivered one of the finest lines ever to grace the pages of the Federal Reporter. 500 additional law geek points go to the first who identifies the line I’m talking about.

Moore’s lawless shenanigans led to his forcible ouster from office, and a 2006 run for the office of Governor of Alabama failed spectacularly.

But never let it be said that a public bitch-slapping or two can deter a True Christian like Roy Moore. Nowadays he spends his time running the Foundation for Moral Law, which “represents individuals involved in religious liberties cases and files amicus curiae briefs in state and federal courts” and “conducts seminars to teach the necessity and importance of acknowledging God in law and government.”

It will come as no surprise that Moore isn’t the only Matthew 6:5-violating jurist in Alabama. Covington County Circuit Court Judge M. Ashley McKathan recently made news by having some 100 people gathered in his[1] courtroom hold hands a pray for amicable resolution of a civil case involving access to a church’s financial records. At one point in the proceedings Judge McKathan reportedly fell to his knees. Thankfully, the story contains no indication of gibbering or rolling.

Moore loves this sort of thing, and was quick to defend McKathan in print. According to Roy, the good judge was merely following “his oath to the Alabama Constitution, which provides that in order to ‘establish justice’ we must ‘invoke the favor and guidance of Almighty God.'” As usual, Moore is quote mining the Alabama Constitution’s preamble, and doing it incorrectly (the word “invoke” appears nowhere in that document). And the preamble doesn’t come withing hollering distance of saying what Moore claims it says. Like all great religious leaders from Martin Luther to date, though, Moore knows that a lie in the service of Jesus is no lie at all.

You stay classy, Roy Moore.

[1] That’s right. “Ashley” is a dude. What the hell is his first name, Matilda? Mary? Mabel?

The siren song of forbidden love

It seems like only yesterday that Ted Haggard, then senior pastor of the New Life megachurch and a major player in the Christian evangelical political power movement, was driven from the limelight amidst a blizzard of methamphetamine and male genitalia. In truth, it all happened well over a year ago. In November 2006, religious and business leaders in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the evangelical’s Obersalzberg, planned a massive demonstration in support of their beleaguered brother. They canceled the demonstration just three hours before it was set to commence. Turns out the stories weren’t just lies perpetrated by the liberal atheist media, as James Dobson claimed; they were quite true.

Haggard undertook a Christian “restoration” process overseen by the New Life Church. In February 2007 — a whopping three weeks into the process — Haggard pronounced himself TOTALLY NOT GAY.

Even so, Haggard was irreparably tainted. Gone were the high-paying job at New Life, the substantial revenue from sales of his fundamentalist books, and the weekly phone conferences with the Bush White House. Haggard and his family hit the road, ultimately ending up in Phoenix, Arizona. Despite his own proclamation of absolute heterosexuality, though, Ted remained in “restoration.”

Haggard, still very much a millionaire, made news last summer by begging donations to assist with living expenses while he and his wife pursued college degrees. Ted asked that the faithful make donations through Families with a Mission, a ministry owned and operated by twice-convicted sex offender Paul Huberty. Teddy Boy got himself in a heap o’ trouble with his overseers behind that shit.

Just when you thought the schadenfreude value of this saga was pretty much maxed out, Cara DeGette goes and posts this at Colorado Confidential. Seems that New Life Church issued the following press release earlier this week:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ted Haggard’s leadership of New Life Church for many years was extraordinary and the depth of spiritual maturity that is found today in the church is in large part attributed to his leadership as the founding senior pastor.

In January 2007, Ted Haggard voluntarily agreed to enter a process of spiritual restoration. He has selected Phoenix First Assembly and Pastor Tommy Barnett as his local church fellowship and is maintaining an accountability relationship there. He has recently requested to end his official relationship with the New Life Church Restoration Team and this has been accepted by them.

New Life Church recognizes the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete and maintains its original stance that he should not return to vocational ministry. However, we wish him and his family only success in the future.

Because spiritual restoration is a necessarily confidential process, the church does not anticipate that it, or its Overseers or Restorers, will make further comment about it.

What? Ted “should not return to vocational ministry”? The restoration “incomplete”?!

Oh! Oh, deary dear!

Maybe, just maybe, Haggard jumped the proverbial gun a year ago in announcing his absolute devotion to vagina. Perhaps his brain is still awash in thoughts of the sweet, sweet milk of meth intoxication and/or the irreplaceable bliss of abomination.

If so, good on you, Ted Haggard! The United States is asshole-deep in hateful, hypocritical, drunk-with-power Christians of the Dobson ilk. There are gay Christians out there, but not nearly enough of ’em.

So don’t hide your lovelight under a bushel basket, Ted. Fly that rainbow flag! Rock out with your cock out!

This 100% non-gay sausage fest’s for you!

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW

9th Circuit: State’s refusal to approve “Choose Life” license plates violates organization’s free speech rights

Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided Arizona Life Coalition, Inc. v. Stanton (pdf, 27 pages). If nothing else, the case well and truly illustrates the perils inherent in a state giving private organizations broad access to its motor vehicle registration system.

Arizona Life Coalition (“ALC”) is an anti-abortion nonprofit corporation that claims some forty organizations and 100,000 individuals as members. Arizona law provides that any nonprofit with 200 or more members may apply for a “special organizational” license plate. By statute, the Arizona License Plate Commission must approve the application if three criteria are met:

(1) The primary activity or interest of the organization serves the community, contributes to the welfare of others and is not offensive or discriminatory in its purpose, nature, activity or name[;]

(2) The name of the organization or any part of the organization’s purpose does not promote any specific product or brand name that is provided for sale[;] and

(3) The purpose of the organization does not promote a specific religion, faith or antireligious belief.

ALC submitted an application for a specialty plate that would display the organization’s logo and its “Choose Life” motto:

For reasons not at all clear, everyone agreed that the plate met all the statutory criteria quoted above. Yet the Commission denied ALC’s application.

Surprisingly enough, the Commission did not base its decision on the design being simply too retarded to appear on a license plate. The Commission’s action was instead based on concern that the state would appear to be sanctioning ALC’s message.

ALC sued the Commissioners in federal court, alleging violations of the Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit and ALC appealed.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that the Commission’s action violated ALC’s First Amendment rights. Along the way the court of appeals held that: (1) authorizing the plates would not constitute government speech, i.e., government endorsement of the “Choose Life” message; (2) Arizona’s specialty license plate program established a “limited public forum” for First Amendment purposes, such that “any access restriction must be viewpoint neutral and reasonable in light of the purpose served by the forum”; and (3) the Commission’s decision to deny ALC’s applications for reasons other than those spelled out in the statute was unreasonable in light of the forum’s purpose, namely “to allow nonprofit organizations a means to promote their community-based cause to the public in the hopes of raising awareness and revenue . . . .”

In view of its First Amendment ruling, the court declined to address ALC’s equal protection argument.

The Alliance Defense Fund, founded in 1994 by renowned theocrats James Dobson, the late D. James Kennedy and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, represents ALC in this case. ADF’s website trumpets another victory in a “Choose Life” license plate case, this one brought in a Missouri federal court. ADF’s heavy involvement in these cases renders the notion that ALC’s Arizona license plate “does not promote a specific religion [or] faith” more than a little suspect, IMO, but Arizona didn’t press the issue.

Missouri school board slapped down yet again

Back in August 2007 this blog discussed Doe v. South Iron R-1 School District, a case in which parents with children attending a Missouri public school challenged on Establishment Clause grounds a school board policy allowing members of the Gideon Society to enter classrooms during instructional time and hand out Bibles to fifth graders. To recap briefly, the parents sued the school district in federal court, seeking among other things a preliminary injunction preventing the board from enforcing the policy.

Ten days before the preliminary injunction hearing, the board adopted a new, supposedly religion-neutral policy. At the hearing the board’s attorney contended that the new policy rendered the entire case moot. The trial judge granted the preliminary injunction anyway, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed.

Back then I wondered “[h]ow any lawyer could argue for the Board’s mootness contention with a straight face . . . .” Well, now we know.

Earlier this week the trial judge granted the parents’ motion for summary judgment on their federal constitutional claims. Roark v. South Iron R-1 Sch. Dist. (pdf, 42 pages). In her latest opinion the judge informs us that the board’s attorneys were none other than Dissemblin’ Mat Staver and his merry band of theocratic zealots collectively known as Liberty Counsel. Dissemblin’ Mat & Co., no doubt painfully aware that the old policy stood no chance of surviving Establishment Clause scrutiny, drafted the policy adopted shortly before the preliminary injunction hearing.

Anyhoo, after the Eighth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction last August, the case proceeded along the normal lines in the trial court. Both sides filed motions for summary judgment on the federal constitutional claims. After those motions were fully briefed, the board amended its policy again.

The parents filed a motion to strike the district superintendent’s affidavit, which was the board’s sole evidence regarding the content of the new policy.  The judge noted the obvious, namely that “defendants’ repeated behavior of making changes to their policy at the last minute and then arguing that such changes radically alter the constitutionality of their actions is frustrating and appears intended to evade final review.” Even so, the judge left the late-filed affidavit in the record because the statements therein “do not alter my decision . . . .”

On the merits, the judge ruled that the old policy was unconstitutional and that the amended policy  didn’t obviate the need for declaratory or injunctive relief:

Based on the timing and the character of the defendants’ past actions, I cannot conclude that the defendants had bona fide motives and were passing the new policy with a genuine intent to comply with the law.

The judge also held that the “[t]he new policy is a mere continuation of the past unconstitutional behavior.” Although courts will usually defer to a legislative body’s declaration of the purpose underlying its actions, the board made no such declaration in connection with the new policy:

The silence of the School Board when passing the new policy not only leaves this Court with no statement of governmental purpose, it also indicates no repudiation or change of heart on the part of the School Board members. This silence, in combination with the history and evolution of the new policy, including the timing of its passage, would lead a reasonable observer to believe that the Board’s purpose has not changed.

The purpose behind the old policy was patently religious in nature, and the board’s efforts at polishing a turd failed.

The court granted the parents’ motion for summary judgment on the federal constitutional claims. Still remaining for adjudication are the parents’ claims that the board’s past and present policies violate the Missouri Constitution. The judge says that once those claims are resolved, she will enter a final judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor declaring all the boards’ policies violative of the Establishment Clause and permanently enjoining their enforcement. Until then, the preliminary injunction remains in effect.

Chalk one up for the good guys, but it ain’t over yet. The board plans another appeal.  We can only wonder how many additional disingenuous changes the policy will undergo between now and the time the Eighth Circuit rules again.

Jesusizing history by legislative fiat

When they’re not busy hating on brown people or stealing everything that isn’t nailed down, Republican Congress critters enjoy wasting legislative time on shit like House Resolution 888, introduced last month by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va). The resolution, which currently rests in the lap of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, concludes with:

Resolved, That the United States House of Representatives—-

(1) affirms the rich spiritual and diverse religious history of our Nation’s founding and subsequent history, including up to the current day;

(2) recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation’s most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America’s representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures;

(3) rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources; and

(4) expresses support for designation of a `American Religious History Week’ every year for the appreciation of and education on America’s history of religious faith.

All of which is more or less typical of the vacuous drivel that so often infests these non-binding religion oriented resolutions.

H. Res. 888 is noteworthy for the seventy-five (count ’em – 75!) “Whereas” paragraphs preceding the actual resolution language. The distortions, purposeful shadings, selective quoting, and outright lies in that material paint a portrait of U.S. history that could have fallen — and in many instances did fall — directly from the dissembling maw of renowned liar-for-Christ David Barton.

Such shenanigans are mighty appealing. After all, you can propound a misrepresentation in a single, confidently-worded declarative sentence. It’s easy. By contrast, discovering and explaining why and how the statement is a misrepresentation involves much hard work and a ton of verbiage.

To cite one example, Rep. Forbes informs us in H. Res. 888 that “political scientists have documented that the most frequently-cited source in the political period known as The Founding Era was the Bible[.]” The effort required to rebut such claims is well and truly illustrated here. And let’s not even mention the analytical contortions required to wring “God has favored our undertakings” from the subjectless Virgilian phrase annuit coeptis.

Rep. Forbes’ religious beliefs are his business, and he can parade them publicly to his heart’s content as far as I care. Wanna pontificate regarding religious matters on the House floor while clothed in sackcloth, standing in a pile of ashes and shoving live serpents up your ass? Knock yourself out.

He’s also free to believe whatever he goddamn jolly well pleases about U.S. history.

But asking the House of Representatives to place its imprimatur on a series of misleading one-sentence snippets as the official religious history of the United States, which is essentially what Forbes and his thirty-one co-sponsors are doing here, is way over the proverbial line. I have no idea whether this resolution will go anywhere, but anyone having any respect at all for the study of history or the precept that religion-government entanglements are bad for both institutions should keep a close watch.