One of the things you can safely bet on when it comes to the religious right: the worse the fund-raising goes, the more extreme the language gets. Oh sure, it’s not unusual to see nonprofits raise alarm levels in an effort to raise more money. But the religious right seems especially adept (and shameless) in vilifying their vicims, especially gay folks.
Case in point: Vision America, based in the East Texas town of Lufkin.
Founded in 1994, Vision America seeks to mobilize pastors to promote a conservative political agenda in their congregations. That agenda is, among other things, anti-gay, anti-abortion rights, anti-sex education and anti-embryonic stem cell research. In short, they’re against a lot of things.
The group’s president is Rick Scarborough, a former Southern Baptist pastor wh0 clearly sees a bigger role for himself in the national spotlight. In March 2006, for example, Vision America hosted a national conference in Washington, D.C., called “The War on Christians and Values Voters.” Speakers included former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and Alan Keyes, the fire-breathing former Republican presidential candidate.
But Scarborough’s group has been sinking into the shadows of other religious-right groups, partly reflected in a decline in fund-raising. The group’s 2007 Form 990, which nonprofits must file with the Internal Revenue Service, reported $499,390 in revenue but $523,673 in expenses. That left the group with a net asset balance of -95,048 at the end of that year. (Figures for 2008 are not yet available.)
The bleeding has been going on for a while. The group reported $923,136 in revenue in 2006, with expenses of a bit more than $1.1 million. Ouch.
So what to do? Stoke the fires, baby! Scarborough’s rhetoric about “activist judges,” “the war on Christians,” abortion and homosexuality has become increasingly virulent. For example, a press release from the group today:
Noting that President Barack Obama has proclaimed June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month,” Vision America President Dr. Rick Scarborough asks: “Exactly what do these people — defined exclusively by their aberrant sexual behavior — have to be proud about?”
“Does the president think gay militants should be proud of the part they’re playing in the deconstruction of marriage and assaults on First Amendment freedom of speech and religion, through so-called same-sex marriage, ‘hate crimes’ legislation and public school indoctrination?” Scarborough inquired.
Scarborough’s press release trots out the usual junk about gay folks having thousands of sex partners, being responsible for AIDS, etc.
Dr. Scarborough added: “Barack Obama is the first president to ask us to celebrate that which the Bible specifically and unequivocally condemns.”
Vision America notes that the president’s support for homosexuality isn’t limited to proclamations. He has appointed open homosexuals to high public office, and actively promotes civil unions, passage of legislation which would outlaw preaching what the Scriptures teach about homosexuality and repeal of the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy.
Scarborough: “Those who engage in unnatural acts should hang their heads in shame — so should the president who asks us to celebrate their sinful lifestyle.”
That’s just a taste. Vision America’s Web site currently calls a federal hate crimes bill the “Pedophile Protection Act.” Too extreme? Not when you’ve got money to raise!