December 18, 2008 - 4:52pm ET
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First of all: the creepiest thing of all about this man is his horrifying declaration of Rwanda as the world's first "Purpose Driven Nation." This is simply unhinged messianism, run amok. It offends me. President Obama, why doesn't it offend you?
But you know what really offends me?
Atrios has been pointing to this quote from Rick Warren on the family-destroying California initiative Proposition 8 because if it didn't pass,
any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships.
Now that this lie has been picked up by Ann Curry of NBC it's a perfect time to recall the point I made the week before the 2004 election about the worse thing conservative rule has done to us: "they have turned us into a nation of liars." The fact is, Ann Curry is not wrong to wish to believe that a prominent pastor can be taken at his word. The tragedy is that blackguards like Rick Warren know that, know their lies will be repeated, an make them anyway, precisely to trade off the trust they appear to have earned as spiritual leaders.
In fact, the lie Rick Warren trades off here—that gays are implicated in a plot to persecute Christians—is a venerable smear on the Christian right. Warren is supposed to be above this sort of thing—certified by the endorsement of Barack Obama as Christian who pays attention to the poor and the stewardship of creation. Well, first off, the idea that a Christian pastor should be considered something special because he pays attention to the poor and the stewardship of creation just shows how corrupt the Evangelical firmament has become.
It's one of the enormous right-wing Big Lies—like the one about how poor blacks caused the financial crisis and anti-war activists are responsible for the Vietnam tragedy—about the supposedly gargantuan and malignant power of people who are actually out of power and vulnerable.
Here's how the slur worked when Ted Kennedy was fighting to add sexual orientation to hate crimes legilsation (and how it will work when any attempt to move GLBT folk into the realm of full equality and dignity):
With the Senate considering new hate crimes legislation that adds sexual orientation to the list of protective categories, bloggers have been noting the acceleration of a right-wing disinformation campaign that I first noticed on election day in 2004. I was listening to Christian radio flush out Republicans to the polls. I learned, as I wrote then, that
a certain bill Senator Edward M. Kennedy wishes to pass, with the intention of providing federal penalties to thugs who beat up people for reasons of sexual orientation, is actually an opening wedge to anti-Christian pogroms. Dobson and his cohorts have been railing that is not just a step but a giant leap down the same slippery slope that found a Swedish minister named Ake Green sentenced to prison for preaching against homosexuality from his pulpit.
I started digging.
And I found that claim epidemic. Here was the Maryland Family Values Alliance, which said Kennedy's bill
would literally throw open the door to attacks against people of faith, who could be prosecuted with federal monies for expressing their views on homosexuality!"
A Dr. John Ankerberg invoked Ake Green to argue
that our next President and the Supreme Court Justices that he will appoint could radically change the way you practice your religion.... You will not be able to teach all that the Bible says in your church.
His authority was Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship of the nation's largest (and most politicized) Evangelical denomination. And what did the man who teaches the nation's Baptist preachers argue? That
[i]f this law is passed, which it will be in a very short time if Christians do not act, even witnessing for our Lord Jesus Christ will be a crime in America, as it is already in several countries around the world.
If you are a conservative Christian in America, it is likely that Ake Green is a household name - and that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt in 2004 that Senator Kennedy had introduced a bill to visit his fate on American ministers who preach God's word about homosexuality.
You'd have to actually have read Kennedy's S. 966 to find out, as these good ministers of the gospel counted on their flocks not to do, that this was a dastardly lie. Read it backwards, sideways, up and down. Read it a thousand times. The law covers physical violence, nothing else. Those visions of thought police and preachers in jail are simply made up. Invented. Big Lie propaganda.
Now that a similar bill is under renewed consideration, The Lie is back bigger than ever.
Wanted for revealing the truth about homosexuality in 'The Bible' and encouraging his followers not ot offend God by committing such behavior.
Here's Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Federation, one of the most powerful Republicans in America:
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592), which passed in the House of Representatives in a veto-susceptible vote of 237-180, could well lead to serious infringements of our First Amendment freedom of speech protections in the United States. Such legislation has had a very chilling effect on free speech in Canada, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.
The good word now has spread to black churches; several pastors, the Washington Post has reported, told co-sponsor John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) his bill would "muzzle the black church.... This law can be applied in the way that can keep the church from preaching the Gospel."
How badly are the lying? Let me count the ways.
Actually, just one way: they're specifically contradicting the precise text of the bill. Which adds language, to avoid misunderstanding, to the effect that
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution.
It's one of the habits make the Christian right evil. And Rick Warren knows what to do about evil: stopping it, he says, is "the legitimate role of government."
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