As attacks on the religious liberties of American Muslims grow, where are the supposed voices for religious freedom among far-right groups in Texas? Pressure groups like Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family) and Texas Eagle Forum often grandstand about threats to FirstĀ  Amendment's protections for religious freedom when they claim Christians are the victims of unjust government actions or court decisions. Why are they silent as some call for discriminating against Americans because they are Muslims? On Tuesday, for example, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association demanded that the government bar the construction of "even one more mosque" in America, charging that every Muslim is a terrorist-in-training: "Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government."…… Read More

by Dan Quinn

We just got a look at the new candidate questionnaire from Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right group Focus on the Family. None of the questions are particularly surprising -- they hit the list of issues typical for this group (such as abstinence-only/sex education, anti-gay discrimination, Ten Commandments in public schools, private school vouchers). But is it too much to ask that Liberty write questions that are based on, well, the truth? Example: "Do you support the current law which says the [State Board of Education] may reject a textbook if it believes the book is unsuitable?" There is no such law. Read More

by Dan Quinn

Can they get any sillier? Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right group Focus on the Family, just sent out a statement claiming that today's Senate confirmation of Elena Kagan as a U.S. Supreme Court justice "will most likely move the Court even further to the left." "Even further to the left"? That kind of silly statement shows you how out of touch the lawyers and lobbyists at Liberty Institute really are. Read More

In case you missed it, over the weekend the Dallas Morning News ran a profile on Liberty Institute, the Dallas-based religious-right outfit that has grown its national profile in recent years by suing schools for alleged First Amendment violations and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep Sarah Palin's ethics problems from seeing the light of day. The group has long been known in Texas as a promoter of abstinence-only sex education, defender of discriminatory policies against gay and lesbian citizens and a reliable shill for culture warriors on the Texas State Board of Education. (Liberty lobbyists have strongly supported the state board's controversial and heavily politicized rewrites of science and social studies curriculum standards.) The Morning News did a good job exposing the bad reputation the group has among many school districts, as an attorney for Greenville ISD pointed out: "They exist for two reasons: To push a conservative agenda and to gain attorney fees, to make money. Do I think that there is a hidden agenda? Yes." But notably absent from the story was the fact that Liberty Institute is actually the Texas affiliate of James Dobson's right-wing empire Focus on the Family. Just an oversight on…… Read More

One of the most frustrating things during the long debate over proposed new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools was watching far-right pressure groups get away with distorting the truth about what was really happening. Among the worst distortions: pressure groups like Plano-based Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, repeatedly charged that curriculum writers were trying to make leftist, anti-American and anti-Christian changes to the social studies curriculum. Right-wing media outlets -- especially Fox News -- dutifully echoed the absurd claims that "leftist" teachers and scholars on the curriculum teams didn't want students to learn about patriotic holidays (like Independence Day and Veterans Day), symbols (like the Liberty Bell) and revolutionary heroes (like Nathan Hale). Viewers also heard that curriculum writers wanted to remove astronaut Neil Armstrong and Christmas from the standards. And some groups and State Board of Education members shrieked that kindergartners would learn they were "global citizens" before they learned they were "American citizens." So it was gratifying when Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller had a chance to correct many of those ridiculous distortions at a forum in Austin last night. Read More