Twinkle lights, harried shoppers, excited kids and special church pageants aren’t the only signs that Christmas is just around the corner. ‘Tis the season also for the religious right’s silly and hyperbolic fundraising appeals warning of a mythical “War on Christmas.”

Every year at this time we see a virtual avalanche of emails designed to scare Christians into thinking that “the left” and “secular humanists” are bent on erasing Christmas from America. Of course, a December drive down just about any street in America belies such an absurd claim. And never mind that tens of millions of Christians in this country continue, unimpeded, to attend Christmas church services and publicly celebrate the season in a myriad of big and little ways.

No, despite all the clear evidence that Christianity generally and the celebration of Christmas specifically continue to be practiced and celebrated freely in America, we still see nonsense like this in an email blast today from Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family:

No matter what anybody says, the Left really is conducting an unrelenting war on Christmas. We have the cases to prove that.

They know that if they can confuse enough teachers and public… Read More

A Houston Tea Party group that made wild charges about “voter fraud” in Harris County last year apparently thinks folks should learn more about the ideas of a far-right extremist who believes that registering poor people to vote is un-American. We wonder whether Plano-based Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family that defended the King Street Patrtiots’ controversial “anti-fraud” campaign, will leap to the group’s defense again.

Talking Points Memo reports that King Street Patriots invited Matthew Vadum, author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, to speak at a lunch in Houston today. Vadum, TPM writes, thinks that registering poor people to vote is un-American and “like handing out burglary tools to criminals.” Moreover, he says, helping poor people vote “could lead to the destruction of the republic.”

Liberty Institute, which supported the State Board of Education’s politicization of new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools last year, associates with really fine people, yes?… Read More

In our latest episode of "Liberty Institute Says the Darndest Things," we look at the Focus on the Family Texas affiliate's use of a fear-mongering term we've covered before, but this time we have audio of it. We're talking about "drug-based sex education," an absurd construction used (maybe even coined) by LI's Austin-based lawyer/lobbyist any time he argues against comprehensive sex education and for the failed abstinence-only programs that dominate sex education classes in Texas schools. Read More

Lynch mobs don't care about facts. And lynch mobs made up of politicians and pressure groups really, really don't care about facts. What they care about is manufacturing rage to advance political agendas. And that brings us to the story of a gay teacher and one of his students in a Fort Worth high school. Last week a Fort Worth mother charged that her 14-year-old son had been sent to the principal's office and assigned to in-school suspension for simply telling a classmate that he's a Christian and that "being a homosexual is wrong." According to a Fox News story, the mother asked for help from Liberty Counsel,  a right-wing litigation group the Southern Poverty Law Center says focuses heavily on anti-gay activism. The Fox story repeats claims that the student's comment came when a discussion in German language class somehow shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. The student said his side comment to a classmate got him in trouble with the teacher: “It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me. I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.” Matt Krause, the Liberty Counsel attorney helping the student and his mother, protested the suspension (a punishment that the principal reversed). The student "should never have been suspended for exercising his constitutional rights,” Krause said. Liberty Institute, the Plano-based Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family, also weighed in. The group's director of litigation, Hiram Sasser, claimed the student was simply exercising his First Amendment rights: “All the kid did is leaned over and said that that kind of lifestyle was against the Bible.” David Barton, head of Texas-based WallBuilders (which argues against separation of church and state), got in on the act, pushing the story on his Twitter account: "Texas Boy Punishes Student for Opposing Homosexuality." And, predictably, notorious anti-gay hater Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association rejoiced when the school district  suspended the student's teacher with pay while it investigated the incident: "Great news: teacher who got student suspended for biblical view of homosexuality has been suspended by school. You agree?" But is this really a case of a public school trying to silence a student's free speech? Or is it, rather, a textbook case of a lynch-mob strategy in which far-right groups manufacture a controversy to inflame passions and promote a political agenda? Read More

We told you that we didn't expect the far right to take it well when they heard that students would be treated to science, and only science, in new instructional materials approved by the State Board of Education. But this we did not see this coming -- the far-right embracing an entirely new standard of success for SBOE chair Barbara Cargill: pleasing us. Read More