It didn’t take long for religious-righters to use the horrifying tragedy in Connecticut last week as another opportunity to bash America for supposedly ignoring God. Today, for example, a Texas-based group with too many names — Liberty Institute presently, formerly Free Market Foundation, and now with a special offshoot called Texas Values — proclaimed its agreement with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s assessment of the murder of 20 young children and a half-dozen educators in a Connecticut school. Speaking on his Fox News show this weekend, Huckabee suggested that the shooting happened because America has been too busy “escorting” God “out of our culture” and the public square. Liberty Institute’s Facebook post today:

“Where was God during the Connecticut shooting? Liberty Institute agrees with Mike Huckabee, and we will continue to stand up for those who believe this should still be one nation under God.”

The group’s Facebook post then links to a video clip (see below) from Huckabee’s December 15 show. Here’s an extended excerpt from what Huckabee said (emphasis added):

“For 50 years we’ve systematically attempted to have God removed from our schools, our public activities, but then at the… Read More

UPDATE: The Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees refused Thursday night to rescind a new policy providing access to health insurance benefits for unmarried domestic partners of district employees. After hearing public testimony, the board voted 5-1 to uphold the policy. It goes into effect on January 1. From an Austin American-Statesman report:

“We’ve worked really hard in this district to teach our students that every person has value and deserves to be treated with dignity,” said Trustee Carol Fletcher, prior to the vote. “It means everyone. There are no exceptions to our policy. This is just good business.”

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For anti-gay groups, it’s not enough that the Texas Constitution bars same-sex couples from getting married. They also want to crush any effort to treat gay and lesbian families with even a shred of dignity. So religious-right activists are trying to bully the Pflugerville Independent School District Board of Trustees into reversing a decision to make health insurance available to the unmarried partners of district employees.

Trustees for the Austin-area school district will meet tonight (Thursday, December 13) to consider the issue. This follows weeks of agitating by religious-right groups like Focus on… Read More

Free Market Foundation Liberty Institute Texas Values, a far-right group from Plano that opposes separation of church and state and equal rights for gay families, has been caught — again — playing loose with the facts.

In a television interview on November 19, Jonathan Saenz — the lawyer/lobbyist who heads Texas Values — claimed that a proposed bill by state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, would lead all future birth certificates in Texas to drop the words “mother” and “father.” But on Friday PolitiFact Texas exposed that claim as a distortion of the truth.

The legislation, House Bill 201, actually refers to information on supplementary birth certificates — certificates used in adoption cases. The proposed change is designed to allow same-gender parents to list both of their names on the supplementary certificate for their adopted child. The PolitiFact story notes that under current law, one adoptive parent in a same-sex relationship “must choose to be designated as the father, in the case of a male couple, or the mother, in the case of a female couple, and the other parent is not listed on the resulting birth certificate.” That requirement has been in place since 1997. HB… Read More

Abstinence-only activists are increasingly concerned that more and more school districts in Texas are moving to sex education policies that include medically accurate information on condoms and other forms of contraception and STD prevention. Their latest worry: Round Rock Independent School District just north of Austin.

The lawyer/lobbyist for Free Market Foundation Liberty Institute Texas Values, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, posted to his Twitter account this morning:

Round Rock ISD meet 2night 2 discuss using drug-based sex ed, teach middle school kids bout implants, morn after pill.

What’s this all about? Round Rock’s school board is scheduled today to discuss a recommendation from the district’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) to include instruction on contraception beginning in eighth grade. Under the recommendation, sex education would include discussion of contraceptive methods such as condoms, spermicides, IUDs, natural family planning (rhythm method) and the withdrawal method. The classes would also include information on birth control pills, implants and emergency contraception.

The latter group of methods, apparently, is what religious-righters now call “drug-based sex education.” Of course, they probably hope the phrase will have parents imagining teens learning about sex in opium dens and crack… Read More

Liberty Institute/Texas Values, the lawsuit-happy Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, has now decided to harass election workers and officials in Williamson County just north of Austin. The workers’ offense? Enforcing state laws barring electioneering and trying to influence voters within 100 feet of a polling location.

The religious-right group claims that a woman’s rights to vote and to free speech as well as her freedom of religion were violated last week when poll workers told her that a T-shirt she wore urging people to “Vote the Bible” was not permitted in the early polling location at Taylor City Hall. According to a complaint Liberty Institute/Texas Values has filed with Williamson County’s election administrator, poll workers told the voter that she would either have to conceal the “Vote the Bible” message or wear a different shirt before being allowed to cast a ballot. One of the poll workers even offered to lend the voter a jacket to wear over her T-shirt — an offer the voter accepted.

Nonetheless, the voter suffered from “embarrassment, humiliation, intimidation and fear of retaliation,” Liberty Institute/Texas Values bizarrely charges. The group also claims that the state law against electioneering at a polling… Read More