Standing with Bigots and Extremists?

by Dan Quinn

Why is Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the right-wing Focus on the Family, standing with religious bigots and an extremist who hates the Statue of Liberty? It’s a question worth asking about a group that bills itself as “protecting freedom” and wanting students to learn how to be patriotic.

LI sent out an email Friday calling on supporters to “join us at The Response,” a planned Christians-only prayer rally on August 6 in Houston sponsored by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. You might remember that LI is the same group that has bizarrely and very dishonestly suggested that teachers who helped write new social studies curriculum standards in 2009 were engaged in a “war on Christmas,” unpatriotic and opposed to teaching Texas kids about national icons like the Liberty Bell and holidays like Veterans Day.

But not only is the Houston prayer rally Liberty Institute supports being organized by a vicious hate group (the so-called American Family Association) and anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic zealots. One of the event’s most prominent backers is also a religious fanatic who calls the Statue of Liberty “a demonic idol.”

What? Liberty Institute wants to share the stage with a hate group, religious bigots AND an extremist who presumably would be happy taking a wrecking ball to one of our nation’s most famous patriotic icons? Apparently so. We think LI got it wrong when changing its name from Free Market Foundation a couple of years ago. Perhaps a more appropriate new name would have been the “Hypocrisy Institute.”