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So-called “maverick” Republican presidential candidate John McCain skewered religious-right leaders in 2000 as “agents of intolerance.” Yet he has spent the past year groveling for support from religious-right pooh-bahs like the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio and the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio. Of course, McCain was finally forced to repudiate Parsley and Hagee because of their hateful diatribes against Muslims, Jews and Roman Catholics. But when McCain floated the possibility that he might choose a vice presidential nominee who supports abortion rights, religious-right leaders made it crystal clear that they would find such a decision unacceptable. So his surprise choice today of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the GOP vice presidential nomination looks like a total surrender to the religious right.

First, Palin is an opponent of gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, according to the Washington Post:

On her campaign Web site, she described herself as a “conservative Republican” who believes firmly in free market capitalism, as well as a “lifetime member of the NRA” with a strong commitment to gun rights. She also said she opposes abortion and believes that “marriage should only be… Read More

We told you earlier this week how Gov. Rick Perry has employed a disturbing mix of faith and militancy in a note to conservative evangelical pastors. Gov. Perry wrote the note in an invitation for pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month. The governor isn’t the only person linked to the Texas Restoration Project who dips into the rhetorical well of militant Christianity. Another prominent speaker at the far-right group’s events has been the Rev. Rod Parsley of Ohio, who has said the mission of a Christian United States is to destroy Islam. Republican presidential candidate John McCain welcomed Parsley’s support earlier this year, calling him a “spiritual guide.” But Parsley’s rhetoric has been so incendiary that McCain was finally forced to distance himself from the Ohio pastor. For a taste of that red-hot rhetoric, see the video clip below. (McCain’s repudiation of Parsley came later.) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCy2yMarPqI&hl=en&fs=1] You can read more about Parsley here and here and about his connection with the Texas Restoration Project in a Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report here. Gov. Perry, who claimed in his invitation to pastors that…… Read More

The Texas Freedom Network has released the following statement following today’s opinion from Attorney General Greg Abbott that House Bill 1287 does not require public school districts to offer elective courses about the Bible.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said today that the state’s public school districts are not required to offer courses about the Bible. Note that this opinion takes on extra significance since the State Board of Education last month refused to adopt clear, specific curriculum standards required by the Legislature. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said the attorney general’s ruling correctly interpreted the Legislature’s intent that school districts have the option to offer or not offer these elective classes. Miller said:

“Local school boards can now breathe a sigh of relief. The State Board of Education threw them under the bus last month by refusing to adopt the clear, specific standards schools need to give the Bible the respect it deserves and help them stay out of court. Now schools won’t be required to maneuver through a legal minefield without a map.”

The attorney general’s ruling is available here.

For background on this topic, click here.… Read More

by TFN

Pope Urban II may have sparked the Crusades by calling European Christians to war against Islam in the Middle Ages. But now, in starkly warlike language, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling on Texas pastors to defeat "radical jihadists" who threaten our nation's "Judeo Christian heritage." The governor's disturbing mix of faith and militancy comes in an invitation to conservative evangelical pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month: Both our nation and our Judeo Christian heritage are under attack by a force that is more dangerous than any threat our world has faced in recent memory. I am convinced that our ability to defeat the radical jihadists who threaten our nation will be significantly impacted by the prayers and leadership of America's evangelical pastors. . . .While Congress occupies its time trying to legislate defeat in Iraq, we hope you will attend a Pastors' Policy Briefing that will equip you to walk point in the war of values and ideas. . . . . . . (W)e must rally godly people and seek God's provision for the resources, the courage, and the strength necessary to win and, ultimately, glorify Him. Those of us raised to believe that Christianity is a religion of peace might be forgiven for wondering just what in the world the governor is thinking. You can read all of Gov. Perry's message at the end of this post. The Pastors' Policy Briefing on Oct. 9-10 in Austin will be the group's eighth since May 2005. Gov. Perry has been the featured speaker at all of them, including one to celebrate his reinauguration as governor in January 2007. In fact, he was the only candidate for governor invited to speak at Restoration Project "briefings" before the 2006 election. Thousands of pastors and their spouses from across the state attended these events free of charge. (You can read more about the Texas Restoration Project in a 2006 report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. Gays and same-sex marriage were the major Restoration Project demons in 2005 and 2006. Muslims now appear to be the enemy du jour.) The Niemoller Foundation, a private foundation funded by voucher sugardaddy James Leininger and three other major Perry backers, covered the costs of those events -- at least $1.26 million for 2005. Earlier this year, the Texas Freedom Network asked the federal Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Niemoller Foundation violated tax laws by funding partisan political activities. The IRS has not responded to TFN's request. Read More

With the State Board of Education beginning its revision of science curriculum standards for Texas public schools, the battle over what to teach students about evolution will be heated. That debate has also been raging in other states, especially Kansas and, more recently, Florida. A report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund reviews how this debate has unfolded. At the center of controversy is the perception -- promoted disingenuously by religious fundamentalists -- that accepting the science of evolution is incompatible with faith in God. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church and many mainline Protestant denominations see no such conflict. Even so, regardless of what statewide curriculum standards require, teachers still have to bridge that manufactured divide, writes the New York Times in a fascinating article this past weekend. (I)n a nation where evangelical Protestantism and other religious traditions stress a literal reading of the biblical description of God’s individually creating each species, students often arrive at school fearing that evolution, and perhaps science itself, is hostile to their faith. Some come armed with “Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution,” a document circulated on the Internet that highlights supposed weaknesses in evolutionary theory. Others scrawl their opposition on homework assignments. Many just tune out. With a mandate to teach evolution but little guidance as to how, science teachers are contriving their own ways to turn a culture war into a lesson plan. How they fare may bear on whether a new generation of Americans embraces scientific evidence alongside religious belief. The Times looks at one Florida teacher on the front lines in the clash between science and faith. David Campbell, a biology teacher and church-going Anglican, was part of the committee that added instruction on evolution to Florida's science curriculum standards earlier this year. Florida had never required that students learn about evolution and its importance as the organizing principle of life science, and the debate over doing so was bitter. In fact, observers expect the Florida Legislature to introduce a bill in its next session to permit teachers to teach about alternative concepts such as "intelligent design" (essentially biblical creationism dress up in a lab coat but based on not a shred of science). Read More

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