Here’s another item for the “we’re not surprised”  category: a Texas religious-right group is deceitfully portraying a U.S. Army chaplain as a victim of religious persecution.

Liberty Institute, a litigation group based in Plano north of Dallas, is representing Capt. Joseph Lawhorn, an Army chaplain who ran into trouble for essentially evangelizing at a mandatory training on suicide prevention in November. His commander reprimanded him for doing so, writing in a letter:

“During this training, you were perceived to advocate Christianity and used Christian scripture and solutions,” according to the letter of concern. “You provided a two-sided handout that listed Army resources on one side and a biblical approach to handling depression on the other side. This made it impossible for those in attendance to receive the resource information without also receiving the biblical information.”

The letter goes on to state: “As the battalion chaplain, you are entrusted to care for the emotional wellbeing of all soldiers in the battalion. You, above all others, must be cognizant of the various beliefs held by diverse soldiers. During mandatory training briefings, it is imperative you are careful to avoid any perception you are advocating one system of beliefs over another.”

Another commander backed the reprimand:… Read More

Plano on Monday joined the growing list of cities across Texas with ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as other characteristics like sex, race, religion and military status. Predictably, religious-righters are angry that they might be stopped from firing, evicting or denying public services to people they don’t like — especially gay or transgendered people.

Dave Welch, executive director of the right-wing Houston Area Pastor Council, sent a particularly offensive email to the Plano City Council. (HAPC is also trying to overturn the the Equal Rights Ordinance passed by the Houston City Council in May.) In his email on Monday, Welch trots out the tired (and discredited) scare tactic about “biological males” using women’s restrooms. He sneeringly refers to LGBT people as the “sexually and gender confused.” He even claims that LGBT people don’t face discrimination:

“On behalf of our ethnic minority pastors we openly challenge the deceptive and offensive use of these ordinances as a ‘Trojan Horse’ for those with an agenda to hijack the Civil Rights movement use the power of public policy and force acceptance of their sexual behavior and gender confusion on the rest of society. Let us make this clear – there is NO DOCUMENTABLE… Read More

During public testimony before the Houston City Council on Tuesday, religious-right activists and spokespeople railed against the proposed Equal Rights Ordinance. The ordinance would protect Houstonians — regardless of race, gender, religion, military status and a long list of other characteristics — from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. But religious-right activists focused their opposition almost exclusively on nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

They denounced the LGBT community as “evil” while at the same time insisting that LGBT people don’t really face discrimination. And they bizarrely complained that the ordinance would discriminate against them if they couldn’t discriminate against people they don’t like. Many identified themselves as Christians and declared that the ordinance would limit their religious freedom — but churches are exempt and, in any case, we don’t recall Jesus turning away gay folks when he fed the multitudes.

But the most common themes in the attacks on the ordinance remain sex and fear. Opponents have suggested over and over that transgender “predators” will be stalking little girls in public restrooms if the City Council passes the ordinance. Some religious-right groups even call the ordinance the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” Texas Values, lobby arm of the religious-right group Liberty Institute, builds on that theme by calling the ordinance “a threat to public safety.”

Texas Values also… Read More

As our society slowly moves toward treating LGBT people with the dignity and equality all human beings deserve, the reaction of religious-right groups has been almost unhinged. Their leaders have adopted increasingly vitriolic and hateful rhetoric in their desperate attempts to defend discrimination. That fact has been on clear display as the Houston City Council’s Committee on Quality of Life prepared to hold a public hearing today (Wednesday, April 30) on a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance.

The Equal Rights Ordinance, proposed by Mayor Annise Parker, would bar discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, race, religion, military status and other characteristics. The measure includes exemptions for religious organizations (like churches), private clubs and organizations, and small businesses.

The proposed ordinance is so mainstream that the Greater Houston Partnership — a major regional business group that promotes economic development in the region — has endorsed it. From the Partnership’s website:

“The Partnership believes that Houston is already a great city that is welcoming and embraces diversity. Adopting the ordinance now is essentially a reaffirmation of who we are and what we believe: that all Houstonians should be able to live, work and enjoy our great city.”… Read More

As LGBT families gain marriage equality in state after state, the opposition is becoming increasingly desperate and vicious. Today, for example, a Texas religious-right group launched a new hate-filled and almost unhinged attack on supporters of marriage equality.

In a fundraising email to far-right activists, Texas Values, the lobby arm of Plano-based Liberty Institute, claims that anti-gay Christians are suffering from discrimination:

“Christians in Texas and across the country are being persecuted, intimated [sic], and punished for simply expressing the biblical view of marriage.”

The sneering email even suggests that same-sex couples don’t seek to marry because they love each other and want to protect their family. No, the email says, the fight for marriage equality is about using “government to elevate the homosexual lifestyle” (emphasis in original):

Here’s the dirty little secret––“gay marriage” isn’t about marriage at all. It’s not about couples exchanging rings or wedding vows. As marriage touches every part of our society, this destructive effort is actually a strategy to use the government to elevate the homosexual lifestyle to a status in law above the free exercise of religion. It’s true, homosexual advocates want their sexual lifestyle to trump religious… Read More