Religious Right Targets Obama Picks, Daschle and Holder

/images/managed/Story+Image_picture+1_1231371501.pngReligious Right Targets Daschle and Holder

In 2002, American Renewal, a political action committee affiliated with Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, placed advertisement in South Dakota newspapers comparing then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. According to Americans United’s Church & State magazine, “The ad place[d] photos of Daschle and Hussein side by side and ask[ed], ‘What do Saddam Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?’ It then goes on to assert that both oppose drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.” In the subsequent election, Daschle lost his Senate seat.

That was then. Now, although Daschle, nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, appeared to sail through the first of his two hearings before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) this past Thursday, the religious right will not be letting him off the hook quite so easily. While conservative evangelical groups haven’t revived the Hussein linkage, two days before Kennedy’s committee was scheduled to meet on Daschle, Focus on the Family began mobilizing its supporters, calling on them to contact their senators and urge them to vote “no” on Daschle’s nomination. Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said that “Citizens who care about family values should be concerned about Daschle’s nomination. Constituents should make their opposition heard on this nominee.”

“Tom Daschle is a disaster appointment, the opposite of a national protector of health and human services,” Jill Stanek, the head of BornAliveTruth, the anti-abortion group that ran advertisements against Obama during the election, told the Catholic News Agency. “Daschle ardently supports abortion … and he disdains abstinence education. The only reason Obama appointed Daschle was to assure Obama’s radical support of the abortion industry would be extended through HHS.”, a project of L. Brent Bozell III’s Media Research Center, pointed out that Daschle had “an overwhelmingly pro-abortion rights voting record while a US Senator, according to voting records as far back as 1994.” According to the news service, in 1999 and 2003, Daschle “supported a Senate decision endorsing the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.” He “voted for federal funding of abortions on a number of occasions,” including 2003, when “he voted for an amendment that would repeal President Reagan’s ‘Mexico City Policy’ and allow funding for abortions—and abortion counseling—abroad.”

In 1999, “he voted to kill an amendment that would prohibit taxpayer dollars to fund abortions covered by federal health insurance plans… [and] in 1997, [he] voted for an amendment that would remove the Hyde Amendment provisions—which prohibited states from using S-CHIP (State Child Health Insurance Program) funds to pay for health plans covering abortions, except in cases where the life of the mother was at stake—from the bill S.947.” reported that “According to the National Right to Life Committee’s legislative scorecards, Daschle scored 27 percent pro-life during the 108th Congress (2003-04); 0 percent during the 107th Congress; 11 percent during the 106th Congress; and 20 percent during the 105th Congress.” Daschle’s rating by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) was just 50 percent as of 2003.

Even if the religious right fails to prevent Daschle from taking his post—and all indicators point to the fact that it will—expect Daschle to be in their crosshairs on a regular basis.

Eric Holder, Obama’s pick for attorney general, is another nominee drawing attention from the right, both from Republican Senators and religious right groups. While early Republican-stated objections to Holder have revolved around the Clinton-era pardons he was involved in, the fight over Holder may be more of a zoom lens into future battles to come over Obama’s judicial appointees.

CNN reported that Holder “has drawn heavy criticism from Republicans over his involvement [as deputy attorney general] in former President Bill Clinton’s last-minute pardon of Mark Rich, a major Democratic donor and billionaire financier charged with federal tax evasion.” Holder’s confirmation hearing, originally scheduled to begin in The Judiciary Committee last week, was delayed at the insistence of Republican committee members.

“Some Senate Republicans see the Holder confirmation process, which will take place largely in the Judiciary Committee, as a proxy fight for judicial confirmation battles to come (including for the Supreme Court),” Kathryn Kolbert, President of People for the American Way, said in a recent e-mail. “They want to see how far they can push Obama and the Senate Democrats. There have even been indications that the Republican backlash against Holder could be orchestrated by none other than Karl Rove.”


The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission’s ‘Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008’

Yes, I know it’s nearly mid-January and “Top Ten Lists” are so last year, but here’s a list that I couldn’t pass over: The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC)’s Top Ten List of the most outrageous Christian bashing in America in the year 2008. Repeat Offender?: Bill Maher (He’s probably worthy of a list unto himself!) The weirdest claim on the list?: “CADC has determined that by any biblical and historic Christian standard, Barack Obama is not a Christian, although he claims he is a ‘devout Christian.’”

According to the organization’s news release, “Every day in America serious Christians face increasing hostility at work, school, and in the culture because they stand for their faith and values.” Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO of CADC said that “It is time for the Christian bashing to stop and for Christians to no longer be treated like second-class citizens. Anti-Christian bigotry is real and growing. Those who engage in it should be exposed and called to account.”

The List: While he may not win an Oscar anytime soon, Jack Black rocked the Internet as Jesus Christ in “Prop 8 The Musical.” For his performance, “Jack Black Musical Video” comes in at #10 on the CADC list. Originally posted in December at, the video (go here and scroll down) has been viewed more than 3,400,000 times. (For YouTube stat freaks, in the Nonprofits & Activism category for December, the video ranked #32 as Most Discussed video; #17 as Most Viewed; #1 as Top Favorite; #60 as Top Favorite All Time; and #30 as Top Rated.)

#9: “Bill Maher Gratuitously Attacks Pope”—Maher, the host of the HBO’s Real Time, is cited for having “made light of the Pope during his recent visit and the tragic [Catholic Church] sexual abuse scandal.”

#8: “ESPN Anchor Dana Jacobson’s ‘F—- Jesus’ Remark”—While speaking at an ESPN corporate event in Atlantic City, N.J., to honor ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, “Jacobson let go with a steam of vulgar remarks; ‘F—- Notre Dame,’ ;F—- Touchdown Jesus’ and finally ‘F—- Jesus.’”

#7: Minnesota University Professor Desecrates Communion”—Paul Zachary Myers, a Minnesota University Biology Professor, “recently desecrated a consecrated communion wafer from a Catholic Mass.”

#6: Religulous, the movie—Bill Maher, who could fill out the list by a season’s worth crosses the line “with a very shallow, pseudo-intellectual documentary. “

#5: “Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name”—“Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name.”

#4: “Colorado Law Criminalizes the Bible”—According to the CADC, “SB200, a Colorado state bill recently signed into law, criminalizes the Bible.”

#3: “Barack Obama Defames Christianity”—“CADC has determined that by any biblical and historic Christian standard, Barack Obama is not a Christian, although he claims he is a ‘devout Christian.’”

#2: “Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin Is Attacked”

#1: “Radical Homosexuals Assault Prop. 8 Marriage Supporters in California”—CADC charges opponents of Prop. 8 with stealing pro-Prop. 8 signs; “verbally and physically assault[ing]” pro-Prop. 8 supporters; vandalizing “church property and private automobiles”; and threatening people’s “jobs and pastor’s lives.”


RD Tidbits:

Claims of Support for Prop. 8 Among Black Voters Exaggerated: In the months since the passage of Proposition 8 in California, several national religious right leaders have maintained that same-sex marriage is anathema to both white conservative evangelicals and African Americans. On January 7, GLAAD reported that a new report commissioned by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that “exit polls showing high levels of support for Prop. 8 among African-American voters, widely cited in media reports, were exaggerated.” The report, written by two New York-based academics—Patrick Egan of New York University and Kenneth Sherrill of Hunter College in New York, “concludes that although exit polls suggested black voters supported Prop. 8 by 70 percent, an in-depth analysis of precincts in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco Counties yielded a substantially lower level of support, around 58 percent. Nearly two-thirds of California’s African-American Voters live in those counties.” The full report, “California’s Prop. 8: What Happened and What Does the Future Hold?” is available here (pdf).

Conference on Race, Religion and Rhetoric: “Americans at the Pulpit and in the Public Square: A conversation on race, religion, and rhetoric in a diverse America,” is a conference organized by the American Jewish Committee and the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, and is scheduled to be held at Xavier University in New Orleans, from January 17-19.

Trouble in Narnia: Bad news for Narnia fans. It appears that after co-producing two films based on the C.S. Lewis series of novels, Disney has opted out of its partnership with Philip Anschutz’s Waldon Films. Although the first Chronicles of Narnia-based film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, was a big hit at the box office, the second film in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, was not well received by critics or theatergoers. The third film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, will apparently move forward without Disney. Variety reported that the Disney opt-out comes at a time when Anschutz’s company has hit rough patch, including shake-ups with its executives, a highly publicized flop with City of Ember, and a reduced output that includes only two films set to open in 2009.

Arkansas Adoption Law Challenged: In November, the good folk of Arkansas passed a ballot measure (Act 1) which limits adoption to married couples, effectively eliminating all unmarried couples (gay or heterosexual) living together from adoption. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit (representing nearly thirty adult plaintiffs) challenging the Arkansas law. Jerry Cox of the Family Council Action Committee of Arkansas told the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, that “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or social scientist to know that the best place for a child to grow up is in a home with a married mother and father—a stable home like that. Anything that departs from that moves in the wrong direction. We all know that.”

AFA Boycotts Pepsi: Despite requests from the American Family Association “to remain neutral in the culture war,” PepsiCo continues “to support … the homosexual agenda,” says a recently issued AFA Action Alert. According to the AFA, PepsiCo has plowed more than $1 million dollars into gay rights organizations, including $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and $500,000 to the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). (Those so inclined can sign the boycott Pepsi pledge here or you can call the company at 914-253-2000 or 1-800-433-2652 and thank them for supporting human rights.)

Worst Anti-Gay Voices: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has compiled a list of “the most outrageous and defamatory comments about gays, lesbians or transgender people last year.” According to On Top Magazine, “leading the list is Bill O’Reilly, author and host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.”